Stress Management Begins with Organization

Fordham University Research Study 

Recently, students at Fordham University conducted a study to identify the perceived value of hiring a Professional Organizer. This study identified reasons for hiring a Professional Organizer, the functional results of having hired a Professional Organizer and the perceived value of having done so.  A notable result of the survey was the perceived value of a reduction of stress.  In conjunction with the June theme of “stress management” this latest research supports the positive effects of hiring a professional organizer or productivity consultant.

THE VALUE OF A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER? Priceless.

Courtesy of Judith Kohlberg,  FileHeads Professional Organizers, Member of NAPO Information & Research Committee

So, you’re working in your client’s home. You are doing all that magic you do to make space for possessions where before there had been none, identifying excess for donation or give-away, and enabling your client to access what they want when they want it. But when your client hands over the payment, do you know what they value the most? According to a survey entitled “Customer Value Perception of Professional Organizers”* conducted by researchers at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, nearly half of the respondents reported that hiring a professional organizer is associated with spending more quality time with their family and friends. What clients feel they are paying for, most of all, is a social value of getting organized. Getting organized is also highly correlated (49%) with reducing stress. Although the price of paying a professional organizer is not reported as “economical,” the perception is that it’s really worth it for its “social” value.

Another primary finding of the survey is that our clients want to be heard. Of the clients surveyed, 65% of respondents report that the “empathetic nature” of a Professional Organizer builds trust. They value the conversations we have with them and the time we take to hear their stories. Our experience and our confidence in ourselves is also perceived (over 90%) as a trust-builder. Building trust makes it possible for our clients to accomplish what the researchers identify as one of the foremost psychological values of getting organized: overcoming the emotional attachment to stuff. Fifty-eight percent of respondents cite this as a specific value of hiring us. But an even more prominent (66%) psychological value is that following the instructions of a professional organizer is easier and less stressful for our clients than making an organizing plan on their own.

From a functional point of view, 55% of respondents experienced greatly increased confidence when organizers shared organizing processes such as sorting, labeling and storing. These benefits are notable, but the most valued outcome for our clients is the capacity to find what they are looking for quickly. A full 74% felt increasingly more confident or greatly confident that hiring a professional organizer would help them in this area. Boom.

Now let’s talk bottom line: Ours and our clients. Our clients do not perceive hiring a professional organizer to have a strong financial value as measured by typical residential organizing indicators like paying bills on time, buying fewer new items, or avoiding duplicate purchases. Because neither productivity consultants’ clients nor business clients were the focus of the survey, the perception of the financial value of organizing definitely deserves more research.

However, what about our bottom line; what can we do to increase business with the knowledge we now have? Most importantly, we can be the kind of organizers who know how to communicate well with clients, to show empathy and to listen to their needs. NAPO and many coaching organizations offer classes that can “up your communication game.” Our research partners at Fordham University recommend that professional organizers also sharpen their sales pitch to clearly define the social and psychological benefits of getting organizing and not just the functional value. And lastly, it wouldn’t hurt if we implement innovative pricing schemes to make our services more economical, if we are not already doing so. Concepts such as sliding scales, pricing packages, or special discounts are examples that are economical but do not undercut our value-rich rates.

There is much fertile ground for ongoing research. One fact that leaps out from the survey is that both we organizers and our clients are overwhelmingly female-identified. Would the results of the survey be different if the sample included more male respondents? We simply do not know…yet. But we do know that the market for bringing men into the profession and into our client base is wide open. The motivation of millennials (26-35 year olds) for hiring professional organizers is least well-known. Over 80% of respondents were over 46 years old. Perhaps millennials are too young to need us…yet. But we should get ready. They’ll be here. Let’s be sure we’re reaching out to younger people to join NAPO. We may find that their cohort clientele will have totally different perceptions of the value of professional organizing and productivity consulting.

* NAPO professional organizers and productivity consultants volunteered the names of clients to participate in the survey. The researchers contacted the clients by email. Assuring anonymity, 96 clients actually completed the survey. Background research was also gathered from industry-related blogs, articles, white papers, personal interviews with professional organizers, and websites.

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NAPO in June: Turn Up the Heat!

Stress Management

I have always felt as though the approach to summer is a lot like taking that innocent, first step down the steep hill you have just finished climbing.  As we approach summer, we often think of it as the “slow” quarter – warm, lazy days – often a time to rest and relax.  While the calendar year starts in January, for many on the east coast, in the academic world and even in the non-profit world, there is a second “year” that starts in September and ends in June.  From September until the following June, we steadily climb…sometimes easily, sometimes with struggle… and by the time we reach May we have reached the summit.  We can look back over the past year and view accomplishments, strategic goals achieved, tasks completed and those which still need to be addressed.

And then we begin to go down the hill…

To me, June is like that first innocent step… the step, that unless your foot is carefully placed and your eyes are wide open, may turn into a slippery, rapid descent down.  June can become a month of stress and chaos that unless properly managed can upend even the most organized person.  June is frequently a planning period full of deadlines, new schedules, completion of existing projects and preparation of new goals.  In the world of non-profits, June is the time for strategic planning, transition and goal setting.  Taking lessons learned and creating a new set of goals to meet the needs of the organization.

Consequently, the NAPO theme for June is “The Heat Is On: Pressure and Stress Management.”  So what does that mean?  June is a month that is filled with tying up loose ends and establishing new initiatives and working toward those initiatives in a manner that does not create additional stress.   How individuals, groups or organizations handle stress dictates not only how successful they are, but also how well they respond to set-backs, course corrections and unforeseen obstacles.

Stress Management is a theme that is common throughout life – personal, professional and communal.  What are keys to managing stress?  What kinds of tools are needed?  What kinds of methods employed?  These are the questions often asked of NAPO members.  “What can I do to be better organized in my …insert forum here – home, business, family, studies?”  “Are there methods I can employ to be more efficient to reduce street?”  “Are there tools that will help me to reduce my stress?  Products?  Platforms?”  These questions and more are what make NAPO members invaluable to the public.  Each NAPO Member provides their clients with techniques, processes, tools and methods to achieve organization and consequently to reduce stress.  And for that reason, we ask NAPO Members – “how do you manage stress?”

NAPO wants to share your successes in dealing with Stress Management through the Get Organized Blog.  Take time to share with other NAPO members, potential members and clients the tools, methods and strategies that work for you.  Submit a blog to the NAPO blog by visiting the Members Only POINT and submit a blog today!

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Blog courtesy of Kahra Buss, NAPO HQ

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Need help getting organized? Visit NAPO's Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultants Directory to search for professional organizers or productivity consultants in your area.

NAPO Research on Baby Boomers Strikes a Chord

One of the greatest advantages of belonging to a professional association is the membership benefits that are provided.  One of the many benefits made available to NAPO members are “micro-volunteer-opportunities” where experiences can be shared with other members and important information in the organizing and productivity industry can be disseminated.  One such opportunity was afforded to NAPO Members following the “Organizing For Health: Help Baby Boomers Manage Health Information at a Pivotal Age.” The theme of NAPO content for March is “Clearing the Clutter” which was an underlying theme of the “Boomers” webinar.  

When NAPO members were asked to reflect and share on the Boomers webinar, the flood of responses was incredible.  Sue Pine, Senior Director of NAPO asked webinar attendees about the value of this educational experience.  Members responded that the session was “invaluable” and “game changing.”  The depth of this webinar reached many NAPO members, some of whom currently work with “Boomers” and many who have just started working with senior clients and even more who are now identifying this as a new market for their existing business.  This webinar was led by doctors Cynthia LeRouge, Ph.D. and Deborah E. Seale, Ph.D. who presented the highlights of their research on this important topic.

Dr. Cynthia LeRouge of the University of Washington provided a starting point for the session by defining Baby Boomers.  The Baby Boomer generation spans the 18 years between 1946 and 1964.  This nearly two decade age difference identifies individuals from their early 50s to early 70s.  The difference in needs, technological aptitude and living situations is so vastly different that the needs of each individual within this group vary greatly.  NAPO Member Judith Kolberg found the webinar truly enlightening.  Kolberg identified Boomers’ needs as trending in many unique ways.  “Boomers are besieged by health information from doctors, insurance companies, the internet, health apps and digital health devices like FitBit.”  Add to that the following factors: A growing number of multi-generational households which complicates living and storage spaces;  downsizing by older Boomers; and increased home-based businesses for younger Boomers.  This generation is drowning in information overload.

Julie Bestry shared her surprise over two interrelated comments that “Boomers are both overwhelmed by paper and feel anxiety about [using digital information systems , however, they also feel a sense of] co-responsibility (with the medical community) for maintaining [this information].”  Meaning that they are aware of their need to increase their personal advocacy but do not feel equipped to actually be able to advocate effectively.   

The shifting forms of data collection, in addition to the shift from doctor managed care to patient self-advocacy has created a tremendous need for guidance and assistance.  Ellia Ryan of Less Mess, Less Stress! was intrigued by the idea that Boomers are being expected to have more personal responsibility when it comes to their health care.  The amount of information that comes in paper form as well as digitally can be overwhelming to this generation which is “struggling with cognitive decline and less energy.”  Ryan really resonated with “the statement that [Boomers] can continue to learn, which helps make up for cognitive decline.  Teaching new skills, helping develop systems that work, and being their cheerleader [can help to] bring order to the chaos.”  Organizing professionals who choose to assist this “Grey Tsunami” of the population with the rapidly changing needs in health care will find many opportunities.  

Kimberly Dahline, Your Paper Professional felt validated following this presentation.  “[To] my knowledge there isn’t a really good system for capturing all of your medical information in one central location.”  Dahline encourages clients to be strong personal information advocates but recognizes the importance of having an organizing professional help.  For individuals “it can be a full time job if [they] have a chronic illness or are the caretaker for another.”  The questions flooded in about centralizing information so that it is an easily accessible resource that is secure.  

Barbara Trapp from Zen Your Den, found the presentation invaluable saying “I hadn’t considered adding healthcare/information management to my list of services until this seminar.  Although I had done quite a lot of work for one client in this area, I thought he was the exception, not the rule.  With his many health issues, piles of EOBs and other medical mail, ADHD and memory loss, navigating the red tape was an overwhelming task.  For example, he thought he owed over $11,000 for some procedures when in fact he didn’t know how to read his EOBs or check status n his insurance portal.  I made a spreadsheet for him with the bills, insurance payments and amount due and he was ecstatic to see he owed less than $1,000…I now recognize there is a real need for these services among Baby Boomers, their parents, and anyone with significant health issues.  Professional organizers have the skills and background to meet this need.”

For more information about this informative and engaging topic, or future webinars please visit the Members Only Forum POINT at www.point.napo.net and use the search tool.  NAPO University is pleased to provide NAPO Members with relevant content, current research and opportunities to connect with other professionals in the organizing and productivity industry.  Register for an upcoming opportunity and complete the survey.   

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Clients Love CPOs®

CPO® Stories: How Certification Attracted New Business

Five months after I earned my certification, I was contacted by someone who wanted me to organize her whole house. I asked how she found me.  She said, “The NAPO website. You’re the only one.”  I knew I wasn’t the only NAPO member showing up in her search because I’m not the only one in my city. But I also knew I was the only CPO® within 250 miles of my city, so I asked about that. She confirmed that was what she meant and explained she “wasn’t comfortable with someone who wasn’t certified.”

I was excited that my new credential was paying off so quickly, though not surprised. I’ve heard lots of stories from CPOs whose credential played a large role in being selected for lucrative jobs. Here are some of those stories:

A woman called me from Chicago requesting help unpacking her two-bedroom apartment in New York City. She said, “You’re a CPO® right? That’s why I chose you. My organizer in Chicago said to look for a CPO® and I would be in good hands!”

Angela Kantarellis, CPO®, AKorganizing

 

Last spring, I received a call from a woman who answered my question, “How did you find me?” with, “I searched ‘certified professional organizer’ in my city.” She wanted to work with someone she deemed qualified. She chose me because I was certified and we both felt it was a good fit. After working with me, she recommended me to a friend.  Another time, a man wanted to hire me but needed to run it by his wife. She emailed me asking about my qualifications and requested more information about my organizing business. I wrote back with a link to the BCPO’s website so she could read about what it means to be a CPO® and sent links to my listings on a handful of websites, including some that had reviews. That led to a phone conversation with her, where I told her the exam content covered ethics, action plans, and foundations of organizing principles. She was very impressed by the requirements for eligibility to take the exam, how the BCPO® keeps up with industry standards, and the recertification requirements. She told me she knew of other professions that didn’t have standards that high. Then she hired me. I think my years of experience and the reviews helped, but the certification was what sold her. I’m still working with the family.

Glenda Evans, CPO®, Glenda Evans Organizing

 

Several years ago, the city of Yonkers was looking for someone to do a series of training workshops for their municipal employees. They contacted Pace University to ask about workshops. Pace recommended me. Yonkers was interested, but due to the regulations around government jobs, they were required to put out a bid asking for qualified people to apply. They made being a Certified Professional Organizer® part of the criteria. At the time, I was the only CPO® in my county, so no one was qualified to apply except me. I did 6-8 presentations per year for them. It resulted in thousands of dollars throughout the years.

Lisa Montanaro, JD, CPO®, Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises, LLC

 

After being in business for six years, I was contacted by an international certification board. The Executive Director visited the NAPO website, and upon reading about CPOs, decided she wanted to hire someone with the credential for a large and complex office relocation job. When we met, we spoke extensively about getting certified. She appreciated the dedication it took and realized it’s an important credential. She hired me for the job.  As we were nearing the end of the relocation project, the ED mentioned she had a position open requiring an organizer’s skill set. When I expressed interest, she was very excited. After some negotiation and board approval, I was offered the job! I am now Director of Finance and Internal Operations. I love the varied duties my job requires, such as staff management involving project and time management, including conducting productivity trainings for my team. After organizing and attending the Board Meeting in Lima, Peru, my next project is to totally reorganize the organization’s paper and digital system, which we estimate will take two years to complete. No boring days!

Eileen LaCreca, CPO®, Sensational Spaces, LLC

 

A client moving into a new home hired me because I was a CPO®. Before calling me, she hired an organizer who was not a CPO®. She was unhappy with the other organizer’s skill set, so she hired me to finish the job even though she had paid the other organizer her package deal. My fee was even higher than the other organizer, but the client felt it was well worth it after seeing what we accomplished. – Cynthia Braun, CPO®, Organize Your Life

 

I didn’t include every story but collecting them showed me that the return on investment for the CPO® credential is enormous! I know certification doesn’t make sense for every organizer’s practice and there are many talented organizers who’ve been in business more than ten years without earning the CPO® designation. However, becoming a CPO® is a strong demonstration of a professional organizer’s or productivity consultant’s commitment to the profession, requisite organizing knowledge, and experience transferring skills to clients. That’s why it’s a credential the public finds so impressive.

For more information, contact Miranda at miranda@wiselyorganized.net

 

Contributed by:  Miranda Wise, CPO®, BCPO® Director of Communications; Wisely Organized, Lubbock, TX

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NAPOCares

A New Twist on NAPO’s Long Standing Community Service Initiatives

NAPOCares is NAPO’s Community Outreach Committee.  This committee began in 2015 with the first outreach projects happening in 2016 at the NAPO2016 Conference in Georgia.  The Community Outreach Committee created the NAPO Cares initiative as an extension of Quantum Leap, a program which encourages organizers and productivity professionals to offer professional services to low income individuals and communities.   Quantum Leap trainers have helped thousands of people since the year 2000 who struggle to make life changing transitions.   

The NAPOCares goal is to encourage our members to give back to their community and also to recognize members who give back.  The first NAPOCares event took place at the 2016 conference in Atlanta where our committee collected a large amount of clothing items for the Foster Care Support Foundation (FCSF) in Atlanta.  FCSF serves a vital and growing need throughout Georgia by providing free clothing, infant equipment and developmental toys to thousands of children in foster and relative care.  FCSF was nominated for, and won,  the NAPO Organizing Excellence Award.

In the fall of 2016 NAPOCares launched the NAPOCares Giveback Challenge, a social media campaign.  The idea  was for the campaign  to a be fun and easy event which not only served communities but also raised awareness about the professional organizing industry.  For the event, NAPO Members shared pictures of items they were going to donate to a local organization or event.  Donated items came from cleaning out their own materials or by helping clients with their organizing and downsizing projects.  NAPO Members shared pictures from their events on social media and tagged it #NAPOCares Giveback Challenge.  The next step was even more fun – to challenge friends, family, clients and colleagues to do the same by tagging them.  Several hundred posts across multiple social media platforms from all over the country were submitted.  It was so successful that we hope to do another #NAPOCares Giveback Challenge in the fall of 2017.

Now you want to know: “How can I join the NAPOCares movement?”  Watch for news regarding the NAPO Cares project at NAPO2017.  The NAPOCares Committee will be sharing additional information in the coming weeks about partnership organization, The Education Partnership in Pittsburgh, PA.  The Education Partnership puts basic school supplies into the hands of at-risk children and  teachers in their communities.  The Mission of The Education Partnership is “to address educational inequities by providing and enabling access to the tools and resources necessary to support teachers and enhance a student’s ability to learn and succeed.”  This empowers the children to learn, grow and strive for a brighter future. Their vision is to serve the more than 38,000 local Pittsburgh students in need every year.  For more information about The Education Partnership visit http://www.theeducationpartnership.org.  

NAPOCares welcomes you to share a post and tag #NAPOCares anytime you or your clients make a donation, work with a local charity or serve your community in some capacity.  NAPO will retweet or share with their followers.  By engaging in community outreach, NAPO can share the good that your business is doing while helping to promote awareness of the productivity and organizing industry.  It’s a win-win we all can love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Need help getting organized? Visit NAPO's Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultants Directory to search for professional organizers or productivity consultants in your area.