Today I’d like to introduce you to Professional Organizer, Julie Bestry.
Business Name: Best Results Organizing
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Blog: Paper Doll
Number of Years in Business: 10.5 years
Helping clients locate and organize a decade’s worth of documentation to prove to the IRS that they did not actually owe $137,000.
What is your favorite space to organize? Why?
Although I’m a generalist and work with a variety of residential and business clients, my speciality is paper management, so the home office desk would have to be my favorite. As clutter is reduced and chaos turns to serenity, organized papers yield organized and better-managed task obligations, so dealing with the desk helps people gain control over their whole lives.
What is one of your favorite organizing products? Why?
Without a doubt, my label maker. A clear, bold text label has an authoritative air – people who would ignore their own handwritten folders and shelf tags suddenly feel motivated to follow the “orders” that they’ve given to themselves by making neat labels.
What do you find is the toughest part about being an organizer?
Helping clients combat two equally difficult issues: 1) the inertia that comes from years of poor (or nonexistent) systems and a downward-spiraling self-esteem, and 2) the obstacles of unrealistic expectations. As with any area of life improvement, clients have to believe they are capable of making changes, and they have to be willing to change their behaviours to maintain the results.
Do you think you were born with the organizing gene or have you developed the skills over time?
I was definitely innately organized – I used to organize my friends’ playrooms when I was still in kindergarten. While being organized was hard-wired, learning how to help others get and stay organized, in terms of gaining motivational and teaching skills that can be customized to different clients’ needs, is always a matter of ongoing development.
What area of your own home do you find the most difficult to keep on top of?
My research area. I vastly prefer reading in paper form, so keeping up with the volume of information I collect and mark up is an ongoing effort. It’s organized – but it’s got a little extra girth. I’m working to embrace technology solutions, but there’s just nothing like scribbling notes in the margins of a clipped article!
What do you have a collection of? How do you display/organize it?
I’m not really a collector. For a while, due to an in-joke, people started buying me cow-related items (books, statuettes, stuffed animals), and I displayed them, in groups, on a small mantle. Eventually, I gave myself the advice I give to my clients, and sent those cows out to pasture, keeping only a few token items that really amused me.
However, I’m an avid reader. Even though I regularly sell books to the used bookstore and donate to my library’s book sale, my personal library, though tidy and organized by subject, is dense. 95% is non-fiction, which I reference often enough to justify keeping. But once I’ve read fiction, unless it’s an absolute favorite I’m practically guaranteed to reread (like Jane Austen), out it goes!
How would your mom describe your room as a kid (in terms of organization)?
That requires a more complicated answer than space allows! My room was fairly organized, and I could find anything quickly within my own systems, but be assured that my mother cared at least as much, if not more, for aesthetics as for function. So, a pair of abandoned shoes in the middle of in an otherwise tidy room was lovingly, gently, but firmly, discouraged.
Do you have an organizing mantra for yourself and your clients?
It’s my business motto: Don’t apologize. Organize!
Guilt, embarrassment and backward-glancing self-recriminations aren’t useful emotions. I encourage clients to focus on taking actions that bring them closer to their goals.
In a few sentences, can you tell us what your approach is for taking clients from overwhelmed to organized?
I come from a broadcast television background, and in media studies, they teach that achieving pleasure motivates some people, but more are inspired to action that avoids pain. I start by asking clients what bothers them the most about their current situations (the pain), but also ask them to describe what being organized would mean they were able to achieve (the pleasure). As we work methodically to declutter, create new systems and advance their skills, whenever we reach an obstacle, I bring it back to how the suggested change with help them avoid those pains or achieve those pleasures.
What is one thing you want others to know about working with a Professional Organizer?
There’s no magic wand – professional organizers can work a few miracles, but if you want your space or schedule change, you have to be willing to change the way you interact with the things in your life.
Before and after pictures are so motivating. Could you share an example of your work with us and tell us a little about what you did?
I’m a statistical outlier – I don’t ever take photos, because I find that (unlike before & after photos of weight loss), photos of clutter in the before stage make clients feel judged.
You might also like to read the review Julie did of my book, Clutter Rehab.
Also find Julie on Pinterest.