Little Victories

I'll admit it...one of the perks of starting Streamlined Living Colorado is that I will never again have to spend all day, every day in a stuffy, windowless office.  I love that I create my own schedule and that I can accommodate most activities with some advanced planning.  That being said, I've learned how much planning this whole being a business owner thing takes!  The less amount of daily structure there is, the more organized one has to be! 

The first several months of creating Streamlined consisted mainly of doing the front-end work.  It felt a little (A LOT) overwhelming at times (MOST OF THE TIME).  I'd get distracted easily because the tasks on my enormous to-do list were totally foreign to me (create a website?!), scary (lots of grownup decisions to be made--what if I made a wrong decision?) and never-ending (how would I ever get everything done?!).

To get a handle on things, I created a "Brain Dump" list that was everything, and I mean everything, that popped into my head that I felt I had to do for my business; even "categorize and prioritize Brain Dump" was on the list.  I did that on purpose, because, checking things off of a list meant I was making headway and thus achieving a goal.  And there is research confirming that checking things off a list releases dopamine which is a feel good hormone!   

Making lists, no matter what the list is for, is a key component of staying organized in your work and in your personal life. Lists are a way to see and track progress, reduce anxiety, prioritize time and of course, release that dopamine!

I still have and use this original Brain Dump list.  It is categorized and typed out with many, many more tasks handwritten on it, but I've also crossed off even more off the list.  Having this list reminds me that although I may sometimes feel overwhelmed being a business owner, I can see how far I've come and I can celebrate the little victories of checking another task off the "Brain Dump".  Because if I don't cross off the list, then who will?!

 

"Wow, you're good at this!"

Yesterday was a good day.  Yesterday was my second session with a new client.  She is getting back into the workforce after over a year of recovery following a serious car accident.  Her main goal was to get her home office area set up and organized since she will be taking some online classes as well as working from home.  Last week, she and I went through her paper files, essentially piece by piece, for 5 hours (FIVE HOURS!).  We actually had a fun time doing it as we chatted and got to know each other.  Together, we went through over 10 years of paper and reduced multiple bins and piles down to 2 drawers in her new file cabinet.

In yesterday's session, we wrapped up this space.  We moved some furniture to better fit the home office.  We cleaned out, de-cluttered and organized multiple drawers full of office supplies, repurposed many supplies she already had on hand and she made a short list of items she wants to purchase at Office Depot.  As I was arranging one of the 6 drawers we organized, she said, "You're good at this!”  Well, thank you!  

I LOVE helping my clients. This client and I worked together for a total of 8 hours, which was all the time we needed to really get her home office ready after that devastating accident.  By hiring a professional organizer to get her office set up, she made an investment in herself, in her education and in her career. Because after all, there is science behind having an uncluttered space and the ability to focus more clearly!  And now she has a space she's excited to work in as she starts this new chapter in her life :)

Hello 2017!!

I'll admit it, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were pretty slow for Streamlined Living.  I did have a few of my regular clients booking sessions but for the most part, I ended up doing a lot of administrative and "behind the scenes" planning for 2017 during the 3 slow weeks.  And now we're only a few weeks into 2017 and I'm so grateful to be able to say I've had several new clients reach out to schedule assessments and organizing sessions!

Last week I spent time assessing 3 new clients' projects and it really energized me!  I am so grateful to be able to help these people and I'm looking forward to making a positive impact in their lives.  All of the assessments really reminded me that I am on the right path. 

This blog post is more of a thank you card.  I'm so grateful to have pinpointed this passion.  I'm beyond grateful for the amazing and unshakable support from my boyfriend because without him, I wouldn't have even thought of doing this for a living (see blog #1).  

And I'm so grateful for my clients.  Many of them feel their organizational needs are out of the ordinary to which I remind them they are NOT abnormal by feeling overwhelmed at the thought of getting organized.  Many of my clients have used the word "hoarding" when describing their situation when in fact, they just need help and clarity with giving their items a home.  It takes trust for people to allow me into their homes (and for me to feel comfortable going into their homes) and I am grateful for all of those clients who have trusted me in their space with their belongings.  I really do enjoy bringing order to my clients' chaos and seeing how excited they get to see progress.  It's a win-win :)  So, thank you.  And cheers to 2017!

So, what's your niche?

I have to admit, this whole "being a small business owner" thing can be pretty stressful.  I knew it would be hard work, I knew it would be frustrating at times, but I also knew if I didn't do this now, I would find another stifling job in Corporate America and I'd never take this risk of creating a business doing something I honestly enjoy doing. 

But another thing I know is how to streamline spaces.  I know the benefits that I offer to my clients by clearing out the clutter and the chaos which is proven to contributes to mental focus and clarity.  I know I provide my clients with the gift of time by doing something they may not want to do or have the physical capability to do.  I know that I am good at this.  But as I continue to try and absorb business advice from seasoned small business owners, I am consistently asked "So, what's your niche?"

I found it.  It was yesterday when I was meeting with a business coach that I realized my niche. He asked me why I should be hired above other professional organizers.  And I kept going back to how I think it's really important to leave room to grow in the spaces I streamline.  What's the point in organizing spaces for a client if the end result is simply that the space is still packed to the gills but looks nicer?!  I want my clients to not only see the results of my hard work and effort but I want them to feel the results. I want my client to feel calmer in their newly organized space.  I want them to feel satisfaction in knowing where all of their "stuff" is because everything will have a place.  I want them to feel accomplished because whether they worked along side me or Streamlined Living worked alone in their space, it was the client's decision to start the movement of getting organized. 

So now when I'm asked "What's your niche?", I confidently reply that Streamlined Living will streamlined your space and leave you room to grow.

"You're doing what now!?"

"You're doing what now??!!"  

I get that question frequently.  And considering a mere 10 months ago, I was gainfully employed and working for "the man", friends and family members that I haven't seen in a while are surprised to hear that I've started my own business as a Professional Organizer. 

Last year, I was making a nice living doing a job I was decent at for a company I didn't especially like anymore.  My manager and the many friends I had at that company were the reason I stayed.  So, on that fateful November day when hundreds of us got laid off (most of my work friends included), I was stunned but not heartbroken.  However, I was TERRIFIED about finding another job...

I hadn't LOVED what I was doing.  I liked it, but I didn't feel satisfaction doing it.  It was a job that paid the bills. I was never that person that knew exactly what she wanted to do for a living.  I was forever envious of my friends that have always known they wanted to become teachers, nurses, physical therapists, midwives, photographers and even crime scene investigators!

The day after being laid off, I immediately started contacting connections I had made throughout the years.  I began updating my resume and searching for jobs.  The thought of not being able to pay my mortgage terrified me.  Sure, I was given a severance, but to be laid off just in time for the holidays was especially bad timing.  I was told over and over again that companies generally wouldn't be hiring much, if at all, before the new year and perhaps not even until Q2.  And given that I had been in the Oil & Gas industry, many companies were downsizing due to the low oil prices.  I really didn't know what other kind of job, outside of the industry, I'd be able to find.  

And then it happened.  I went home to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and spent time at my sister's new house doing some projects to help her out.  Her family of 7 had moved into a new home in September but in November, my 13-year-old niece's room was still not unpacked and was actually pretty bare bones.  My mom and I teamed up to unpack and organize my niece's room while she was attending play practice.  It took the entire day and Mom and I were gone by the time she got home from practice.  "Oh my gosh, I love it!" she exclaimed to me via text.  She had not known we were going to do this so it was fun to surprise her.  (I think being 13 years old, she was simply overwhelmed at the thought of unpacking and organizing her room so she just ignored it and made due).  

After that, another niece asked if I would "do" her room, too.  I went over while she was at school and rearranged her room, put things on the walls, and reorganized her closet to make better use of her space.  She loved it too! Then I tackled the play room in the basement...sorting and categorizing toys with storage bins, setting up an arts and crafts area and making the basement play area enticing for five kids to actually use.  My boyfriend texted me from Colorado asking what I was doing and I told him.  He responded with "Looks like you found your new career!"  Whoa.  Is this a thing???  

It turns out I've always had a knack for decluttering, organizing and making better use of space. It had never, EVER occurred to me that there was such a thing as a Professional Organizer until my boyfriend had mentioned it to me.  There was even that time a few years ago while visiting home in Wisconsin when I told my mom I wanted to clean out her basement. Yes, I was technically on "vacation" when I did this!  My mom and stepdad were so thankful for my help and leadership.  "This is my Everest!" I vividly remember telling them.  Six carloads to Goodwill later, their basement was decluttered, tidied and organized.  I wish I would have had the foresight to take before and after photos, clearly not realizing that it was my first project!  

So here I am, a small business owner after working in Corporate America for 9 years.  I'm making a living doing something I really love and I'm genuinely GOOD at.  What a difference 10 months makes!