By default, my nature is to shout from the rooftops whatever’s been working for me. I get so excited that I want others to try it, too. Even before starting a blog, I’d always been a helper and sharer.
“I just cured my acne with retinol and tea tree oil. You HAVE to try it!”
“I did a whole30 and it changed my lifeeeee! It’ll help you too!”
“You gotta see this DIY pillow cover I made! It’s easy, let me show you!”
“You NEED these jeans!!”
“This is your sign to paint your walls black!”
“Let me help you fix your eyebrows!”
So, it came as a surprise, even to me, that I wanted to hold back on a dark secret: my closets, garage and storage in the basement were a hot mess.
That’s not an exaggeration, either. It was BAD. I was too embarrassed to share this with my Instagram community, and so I planned on not sharing at all. I, later, changed my mind when I realized it might help someone.
One year after I started blogging, my Instagram account blew up seemingly overnight. It was a huge blessing and I was having so much fun. I’ve been grateful for all that’s come my way. However, I was unprepared for many aspects of my new job.
I hadn’t anticipated the sudden growth. Most content creators usually have years to prepare for and adjust to things as they grow their community. I was winging it. All of these great things were happening at a neck breaking speed, and I had no effective work systems set up. I was doing everything in the moment with no margin for catch up as I learned this new kind of job.
As a 2w3 on the enneagram, I felt I had to answer every single DM and comment, taking 6-8 hours a day. Emails were flooding in. Brands wanted to partner. YES!!! I had no idea what I was doing, though. Reading contracts, negotiating, and googling terms I didn’t understand.
Sponsored content was new to me. Now it wasn’t just filming, editing, and posting. It was submitting concepts for approval, reading and following briefs, pre-approvals, making requested edits, final approvals, posting on scheduled dates, and turning in analytics. This took more time than I realized was possible.
Packages were coming in hot. I was so excited about creating content with all of the items I’d receive. One, two, three, four, five plus packages a day to start, and up, up, up from there.
In the past, I’d been able to keep up with my house, regularly tidying and purging when needed. But all of this newness in addition to regular life at home created a wild situation for me.
Suddenly what was a blessing felt completely overwhelming. Why? Because I had no systems.
I’d open packages, and try in vain to find a spot to put them. I’d pile them in the closets, garage, and basement. When it was time to shoot content, I’d dig around trying to find things, creating a bigger mess. If company was coming over, I’d need to quickly tidy from my filming. If the day had been long, I’d stuff products, clothing, lighting, and supplies wherever I could.
I was also creating, filming and editing home DIY projects while creating an equal amount of fashion, beauty, and wellness content, which was rare in the influencer space. I would dig through the garage to find my tools, moving piles from one area to another, burying other things I’d probably need to find later.
With no solid process and flow for everything coming in and the type of work I was doing in my home, the layers kept blanketing the closets, garage and basement until I felt like I was drowning. I was anxious and overwhelmed, and frankly, I felt depleted of creativity. I LOVE cooking, and I didn’t even want to do that, which was a huge red flag.
Rob and I kept meaning to go through and purge everything, but at the end of an entire day of cleaning out the garage, we would have no proper place to put everything. So eventually, it would just go back to the way it was.
I finally got to the point that I realized we could pay for someone to help us. I needed a pro to assist with purging and organizing. Not only that, but I needed real systems!
It took some convincing because Rob really thought it was best for us to DIY it. Why spend the money when we were perfectly capable? But I wanted a professional’s eye on how I did my work at home. They could bring their expertise to provide solutions. Ideas to help long term with my work flow, which involved the whole house.
So, I looked for local organizers.
To find organizers, go straight to google. Search “professional organizer Cincinnati” or sub your city.
Next, look at reviews on both Yelp and Google. Look at those bad reviews closely, if there are any! How did they respond? Defensive? Helpful? Empathetic? This all counts.
Comb through their websites to gather all the info you can.
Go to their Instagram pages. Is their IG clean and organized? Are they consistently posting? What are those before and afters looking like?
The day the owner came in to asses and give me a quote, my whole body was tense. My smile was forced. I was not myself. I felt ashamed. As I led her from space to space and she stepped over the piles while taking measurements and observing, I felt like crying. Actually, I did cry. I felt so exposed. “This isn’t who I am,” I said to myself. But she reassured me that she saw this a lot, and that she could help. Not just as a bandaid, as Rob and I had feared, but with long term solutions that would give us peace of mind and our storage spaces back.
When you hire an organizer, the cost varies widely, based on their level of expertise, how much square footage you need help with, and how many hours it will take. Typically, Organizers can run anywhere from $60-$150 per hour. For this part, you will need to get an assessment and quote from your local organizer for your specific space and situation. She quoted based on estimated hours and an estimate for the cost of materials and supplies.
Here are the areas we covered:
For my situation, I needed two major systems. One for my primary closet, and one for the garage. For these, the organizer contracted with the Container Store. They helped me choose an Elfa system for each. To save, we could have DIY’d the install but I opted out. With multiple trips, Rob out of town for 8 days, and several brand campaigns to shoot, I didn’t have the capacity. Using installers took a huge weight off of my shoulders. One installer even threw in a paint job for my closet!
This Elfa system was cool because they put the tracks in and customized it based on our needs. We opted for the wood fascia on the fronts for a more polished look.
On my side, I had just two hanging bars for short items, with one shelf on top. To make better use of space, they installed a bar in the nook corner for long dresses, with two shelves above it. On the other side they added two bars for my short items (tops on top, bottoms on bottom) plus a shelf over each. Before, my long items would just hang over the bottom bar. Now they have their own spot to hang fully.
OTHER CLOSET ITEMS
We had quite a few existing clear shoe boxes for Rob’s sneaker collection. They added additional boxes, plus baskets, an over the door rack for Rob’s hats, a hanger for belts, dividers for my bags, and labels.
This was a beast. We needed to have a place for my tools, Rob’s fishing and hunting gear, wood for projects, yard stuff, soil, a project workspace, and a place to hang shovels and other long tools. They used an existing shelf and ceiling storage. They added clear bins, and rolling storage bins.
The Elfa garage system got everything off the floor, which was our biggest issue- not using the walls. A pegboard and tracks were added to store items on the wall, as well as track shelving for bins. Shop similar items at Amazon here.
The organizers used existing wire shelves to hold bins and added more as needed. They created systems for my beauty and home products for work, upcoming content items, shoes, paperwork, photos/memories, paper products, wrapping paper, office supplies and crafts. The added an over the door system in one of the closets. Finally, they included two rolling racks for all of our winter coats, and they finished by labeling everything.
They used my existing shelves and added clear pull-out bins, over-the-door storage system, laundry baskets and labels.
This closet only had a bar for hanging. They removed it and added Elfa shelves throughout and put in a holder for brooms and mops on the door, then used some existing clear bins for Lucy’s treats. They added pull-out bins for my essential oils and a space for cleaning supplies. Then they labeled everything.
In the cupboards and drawers, they made a space for my vitamins, tea, coffee, filters, small appliances, and spices, then labeled them. For the pantry, they used existing shelves and added a few new containers, risers, and bins. They labeled the whole kitchen.
The answer is relative. It’s kinda like saying how much is that house worth? It’s worth how much someone would pay for it. For my peace of mind, YES. It was worth it. I felt light again. I felt like being creative again. The overwhelm was gone. I started cooking again. I could easily clean up after filming and unboxing because EVERYTHING HAD A PLACE!
Am I gonna change my ways? I can only say that having systems in place makes it POSSIBLE to change my ways. I immediately saw my habits changing. Everything seems easier. I know if I get off track I can easily jump back in, because we have real solutions.
If you’re in a bad place organizationally, or in any area, it’s ok to ask for help where you lack the capacity. Hire an organizer if you can. But even asking a family member or friend or two is another thing you can do to provide a little relief for yourself.
Would you ever hire an organizer? Let me know in the comments!
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