Time for another SOS, today I would like to introduce Melanie Unger!
Business Name: Organized Inspirations LLC
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Number of Years in Business: 4
Helping clients find their “A-ha” moments is so rewarding; writing and publishing my first book: Organized Teacher, Happy Classroom in 2011 is a dream come true.
What is your favorite space to organize?
As a teacher, it is no surprise that I love to help teachers think about efficient ways to organize their classrooms. I also enjoy helping people with organizing paper. I’m not really into complicated filing systems, but I do like helping people see the value in the paperwork they have, and in guiding them to recycle the rest. Mostly, it’s so rewarding to work with people in purging paper clutter so that spaces seem so much more functional. People feel a heavy weight lifted (both literally and figuratively) after tackling projects involving paper clutter.
What is one of your favorite organizing products? Why?
For students, I love 8-pocket organizers, where students store all of their current subject area work. For teachers, as simple as it is, I love all sizes of binder clips. They are infinitely useful, and so handy for everything dealing with paper. For the home, I can’t do without photo boxes. They are such helpful tools for gathering like objects and storing things in a way that is both pretty and functional!
What do you find is the toughest part about being an organizer?
I think that determining each person’s unique organizing concerns is harder than most people think. I try to ask clients questions in a couple of different ways so that I really understand what their goals might be for a project. For example, instead of just asking, “What do you envision for this room?” I try to probe a bit deeper with something like, “What items would make this room special and functional?” The first question is sometimes too general for people, and may not be formed in their minds due to the clutter at hand. Asking the second question helps bring to mind specific things they enjoy or want to use in the space.
Do you think you were born with the organizing gene or have you developed the skills over time?
I have always appreciated a sense of order, and when my older sister went to college and I moved into her room, I recall dusting and vacuuming the room without being told. I wanted all clothes off the floor, and clutter was not an option. I liked things to have their own place. Taking care of my own space made me feel proud. I liked walking into my room and feeling it was clean and neat. That sense of order and preference for things being tidy has been pretty constant. However, I am always growing and discovering new techniques for organizing, so I do develop new skills over time.
What area of your own home do you find the most difficult to keep on top of?
There is so much junk mail and other mail that comes into the house, so I’d probably say the kitchen table. I try to handle mail in a reasonable time frame so it doesn’t pile up. Sorting through mail on a regular basis, recycling pieces as quickly as possible, and shredding mail that has sensitive information is the key to keeping it under control.
What do you have a collection of? How do you display/organize it?
While I don’t have a collection per se, I do have lots and lots of BOOKS! I make a point to sell back books twice a year to a local bookstore, in order to keep my book buying in check. Having a collection of something you love is wonderful, as long as it does not take over your life or your space.
How would you describe your room as a kid (in terms of organization)?
As mentioned above, I wanted to be sure things all had their proper places. I didn’t like clutter, so “knick-knacks” weren’t really my thing. I did like having my trophies for softball on display, and a few small animal figurines no doubt graced my dresser, but I remember really liking those specific items, and did not just dump anything and everything all over the room. If it was out on display somewhere in the room, it had meaning. Everything else was either in the closet or stored elsewhere.
Do you have an organizing mantra for yourself and your clients?
The tagline for my business is “Personalized Organizing Solutions for a More Inspired Life.” The key word in that tagline is “personalized.” If an organizing solution is not tailored for the individual, no matter how exciting or “new and noteworthy” an organizing technique or product is, it will not work if it does not mesh with a client’s personality or preference. Personalizing an organizing experience means deciding what works for each person in each instance. There is no “cookie-cutter” solution for organizing; what truly works is whatever strategies individuals can use so that they will be successful in keeping a space organized for the long haul.
In a few sentences, can you tell us what your approach is for taking clients from overwhelmed to organized?
The most important thing is to identify with the client why they are dissatisfied with a given space. It’s important to discuss what they envision for that space. Taking the step from overwhelmed to organized is often all about helping clients to see that progress is any change in a positive direction. Not everything will get accomplished in one day. Organizing even one small space (one file cabinet drawer, one individual book shelf, one corner of a basement, one section of a closet) will yield good results. They absolute key is follow-through and commitment over time in completing the tasks necessary to achieve the final result.
What is one thing you want others to know about working with a Professional Organizer?
Thinking ahead of time about long-term goals is very helpful. Provide as much information as possible about what you want to change about a given space; ask lots of questions, and be open and honest.
Before and after pictures are so motivating. Could you share an example of your work with us.
School library before:
The “after” photo is actually showing the library still “in process” of being organized.