Macon's My Friend Katherine Denton macon magazine organizing article

Your Questions Answered

This article was originally published in the June/July 2013 issue of Macon Magazine.

 

How did you decide to become a professional organizer?

The year was 1995 and the term “professional organizer” did not exist in my world. I was an advertising account executive in Atlanta, but I was miserable so I quit. I attempted to start a professional writing company, traveled, pondered the meaning of life, and then ultimately ran out of money. A temp agency assigned me a one day receptionist job at a company called Montgomery Watson, an engineering firm specializing in waste water. Gross, I know. Thankfully the phone rarely rang because when it did I answered it “Montgomery Ward… I mean … MMMMontgomery Watson.”

Even though I was struggling with the phone, I was succeeding at impressing the regional manager with my organizing skills. Over the course of the day I organized his desktop, his desk drawers, found creative solutions to his incoming paper problems, wrote a letter on his behalf chastising an employee for having a pornographic screensaver and completed 3 months’ worth of expense reports. By the end of the day, he asked me if I would be his “personal assistant.” Obviously I said yes! Four years later I discovered the National Association of Professional Organizers and realized there was an actual name for what I was doing.

When you help a client, what are your goals?

The majority of my clients are very successful, but they tend to beat themselves up for not being organized or “perfect”. My first goal is to alleviate any embarrassment by offering support, not criticism. Next I strive to put myself in my client’s shoes:  to understand their goals, readiness for change, responsibilities, limitations and strengths. From here my goal is to customize a plan to help my client reach their goals successfully, quickly and for the long term. This involves focusing on the projects that will have the biggest impact on their day to day lives as well as creating systems that are easy for them to maintain.

What are the most common organizational problems people need help with?

Home-  master closet, general clutter, incoming paper

Office-  desktop management, work/paper flow, filing systems

Financial- budgeting, bill pay, tracking expenses with Quicken/Quickbooks, tax prep for accountant

Businesses-  records management, storage rooms, community spaces

Personal-  time management, work/home balance, ADHD strategies and coaching

Did you receive training before opening your business, or is it a talent you have developed?

When I started the business 18 years ago, I was “winging it.” I had a talent for organizing, a Journalism degree, some advertising experience, a desire to help people and an open mind. Since then, my skill set has grown exponentially in order to meet the constantly evolving needs of my clients.

Where do you hope to see your business five years from now?

I hope to continue my one-on-one work with clients, but also have several books published, or at least in the works.

What is the most unusual organizing request you have ever received?

There have truly been so many. I love my work!!! One time a client asked me to organize the stamps she had been collecting off used mailing envelopes. Let me clarify, these stamps were the ones that somehow made it through the machine without getting stamped. She had over 200 ranging from .01-.35. I gently explained that by the time I sorted and prepared them for posting that she could have bought a roll of 100 first class stamps. But no, she insisted and I did it.

Another request I received was from a client who wanted me to organize their 500 CD changer by genre. I made a catalog to go with it denoting exactly which slot housed which CD. A couple months later they asked me to redo the project. This time they asked me to just put the discs in random order. I suggested they could put the changer on shuffle, but no, they wanted it redone and I happily redid it!

If you have any questions, just ask!

This article was originally published in the June/July 2013 issue of Macon Magazine.

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