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Question: Why do you feel so strongly about the importance of getting, and being, organized?

Answer (by Marcie Baker Turrin): As a formerly disorganized person, I know first-hand the stress, aggravation, and futility of feeling like your life is out of control. When you're struggling to remember when that bill is due while you're in a business meeting, you can't give the meeting your full attention or talents. If you're wondering what you have to take care of the next day as you're lying in bed, your ability to get a good night's rest is going to be compromised. If you feel like you're taking care of everything in the house, the kids, the shopping, the bills, and not doing any of it as well as you'd like, that feeling of failure permeates everything you do. This means that a great deal of the time, you miss out on the beauty, love, and happiness that are what life is supposed to be about. You don't have the opportunity to figure what or who is most important to you because the everyday details of your life take over. This is what happens when you're not organized. When you are in charge of your life, you have the freedom to make your life whatever you want.

Q: So you have been just like many of your clients in the past. What happened to change things?

A: In 1988, I realized how much my life revolved around playing catch up on everything I was behind on. I was constantly putting out fires that my disorganization had caused. My house was mostly a disaster, and whenever someone was coming over, I needed to throw everything into a closet just to make the house 'company-ready'. I felt stressed out all of the time.

Around the same time, I moved inside the loop, from a spacious apartment into a much smaller, but way more charming, duplex. My lovely new home had many of the architectural aspects I was looking for, but very little closed storage, whether it be closets or kitchen cabinets. As I was unpacking, I realized how much I had packed that I didn't love, didn't use, and didn't want in my new space-challenged home. I started putting away things that I wanted to keep in places that made sense for where I was going to be using them, got rid of everything that was excessive and unused, and absolutely fell in love with my new home. This was my first realization that what you choose to surround yourself with affects how you feel whenever you are at home.

As friends and family came over, they remarked on how I still had many lovely things, but my smaller home felt so much less crowded than my former, much larger place, and wanted me to do the same for them. As time went by, more friends of friends and friends of family asked me to work my magic on their homes, and my journey to becoming a Professional Organizer had begun! At first, this was just a hobby, something I loved to do in the evenings and on weekends, and I got paid mostly with free meals and good bottles of wine.

Q: How did getting organized change your life?

A: When I was in a disorganized state, there were, not coincidentally, other aspects of my life that were in disarray. I was working in a career that I admired but did not love doing, therefore I was mostly unhappy at work. Just getting up to go to the office every day took what felt like a Herculean effort.

The disorganization surrounding me was a great distraction from this hard reality. When you're struggling just to keep up with your mail, it's easy to miss what's right in front of your face. Once I became aware of the positivity that I felt whenever I was at home, in my new and improved welcoming surroundings, I recognized that I did not have that same happy, positive feeling while I was working at my 'real job'. I left, and decided that whatever I was going to do, I wanted to enjoy my time at work. So began a journey that lead to meeting my husband, discovering a knack for sketch comedy, office management, political involvement and fundraising. I eventually embraced a career I did not initially know existed. It has been more gratifying than I could ever have imagined. I love being a Professional Organizer.

Q: What kind of education did you get to help others to learn to be organized?

A: A great deal of my learning was on the job, seeing what worked, and what didn't - both for me, and for those I was working with. I learned to ask the right kinds of questions that would lead to the greatest, and most lasting, results for my clients. I found myself using my Education degree as I determined the different learning styles my adult clients had, and how best to help them set up systems that would make sense for them. I also wanted it to be easy for them to maintain.

When the Certified Professional Organizer designation was created in 2007, I had the requisite experience (1500 hours of professional organizing over the past three years) to sit for the exam, and became one of the first 200 Certified Professional Organizers in North America. This designation indicates an ability to not only organize clients, but to transfer those organizing skills to clients, leaving them with not just an orderly space, but new skills that can really change their lives!

Q: What would you like for people to know about the organizing process?

A: That if I can do it, anyone can! There's no need to feel like your space is the worst I've ever seen, or that you're going to be judged for the way your home looks when I come for the initial assessment. If you have a good teacher, learning organizing skills is just like learning to drive - at first, it might feel different, awkward, and unnatural. But after doing it, and keeping with it, it becomes more like second nature. You realize that what you have learned can be applied to so many different areas of your life, all for the benefit of enjoying this journey we're all on - spending time doing what you love, with those you love!

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We would love to hear from you:

Marcie Baker Turrin, CPO, IRN
Ship Shape Houston

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