CONCERNS-Before The First Phone Call

Deciding to make a major life change like reaching out to contact an organizer can be filled with questions that lead with words like –

“Should I....?” “Will she...?” “What about...?” “What if...?”

These concerns need to be answered – so here goes. Just click on any link below that looks interesting. You can return here by just clicking “Back to Top.” Or, if you prefer, you can simply scroll through the Q & A Section Concerns – Before the First Phone Call and stop wherever it looks interesting. All the main 4 sections remain on the left sidebar throughout this Q & A section.

Control “Who is in control during a work session?”
Limits “Are there things you won’t do?”
Protection “What protection do I have from identity theft?’
Privacy “What about private areas?”
Spouses “My spouse is the biggest problem, how do I deal with him?”
Money “What if I want to change, but my spouse won’t spend the money?”
Visioning “How can I get mentally ready for the call?”
Calling “What if I want to change, but my spouse won’t spend the money?”

Before making that first phone call, people ponder many questions – like, “Should I hire a cleaning service first?” (ANSWER: No). Some questions are asked out loud but many are not.

Focus on People – Not Stuff
At Jill-of-all-Trades Organizing! Services, the focus is on Whole Life Organization.

The stuff gets worked on, but it’s the people who change in the process. It is because of Jill’s “people focus” that this Q & A section was developed. You can find out things like –

How do I get the courage to actually make that first phone call?
And what the heck happens once she actually visits?


Your Questions Answered

Control: Who is in control during a work session?

You are. You are the writer of your own “screenplay” and Jill acts as the director. It is your story, your interests and your goals that are made manifest in this newly ordered environment.

During a work session, Jill will sort obvious “Keepers” into labeled boxes. Simultaneously, she sets up temporary piles on her portable folding tables of potential Donation and Trash items. Jill pre-sorts these piles based on answers you have given her about your tastes, future plans and goals.

Then, you either okay the items for donation or trash – or you retrieve precious articles from them which get sorted into boxes with the other “Keepers.” You are the only one who puts things into the Donation Bags or the Trash Bags.

Limits: Are there things you won’t do?

If you are concerned that the condition of your home might be too much for any organizer, here’s some information to help. Jill has not rejected any jobs so far because they were too “messy and she also doesn’t have allergies to dust or pets. Even if your family refers to you as the “packrat,” don’t hesitate to Contact Jill.

Jill Lawrence, CPO-CD® has given national teleconferences to other professional organizers on the topic of Environmental Safety through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). In that teleclass, she includes information on pest control, toxic substances and other household hazards.

She is able to help you resolve many existing problems with contractor referrals so you can have a safer home or office. In most instances, she shares precautions you can take to also prevent problems for your family and she enjoys sharing her knowledge.

Check out the Resources section for over 250 resource links in many subject areas that may be useful to you.

Protection: What protection do I have from identity theft?

It is so wise to be concerned about this issue due to concerns about identity theft. A professional organizer who works on your files has direct access to your account numbers, tax information, social security number, PINs and Passwords.

The basic membership in NAPO (our professional organization the National Association of Professional Organizers) only indicates that the individual has paid the yearly membership fee. There are no educational or background checks required for membership and there is no vehicle for removing a member for ethical violations.

One way for you as a consumer to determine the credibility of an organizer is to note how long she or he has been in business or operated from the same location.

  • What is the person’s level of involvement in education in the field?
  • Does the person attend conferences or teach skills to other organizers?
  • Are there community connections or awards that indicate stability?

Jill Lawrence, CPO-CD®

  • began Jill-of-all-Trades Organizing! Services in January 1996;
  • operates her business full-time continuing in the same Washington, DC location;
  • served for 4 years on the Board of the Washington DC Metro Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers;

  • earned Golden Circle status through with NAPO in 2001;
  • was awarded the certification – CPO-CD® (Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization) in 2005 from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD);
  • achieved all 10 Level I certificates and both Level II certificates offered by the ICD;
  • received two Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department awards for community policing activities as an Outstanding Citizen;

  • won CHAMPS (Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals Chamber of Commerce) 2009 “Hilly” Award as Volunteer of the Year Award, first runner-up, for founding a monthly lunch and learn group called LINKS Lunch in 2006.Organizer in Chronic Disorganization) in 2005 from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD);

Please visit the Credentials page for more background information on Jill Lawrence, CPO-CD® .

Privacy: What about private areas?

Please don’t be shy about declaring “Off-Limits” areas. These may be your spouse’s area (Jill defends all spouses from having their stuff removed!) or an area that is too emotional – the belongings of a loved one who is deceased. Grief stages take time. Choosing keepsakes from an inheritance may not be something you are ready to do just yet.

Also, people have personal hobbies and interests. Just say, “this is what I want to work on with you, and this other area is private.” Jill will respect your wishes.

Spouses: My spouse is the biggest problem, how do I deal?

Clutter can definitely be a source of marital discord. Unfortunately pre-marital courses usually cover finances, religion, child-rearing, sex, etc., but not a lot about this common area of dissension.

Most people do not know they are marrying a shopping addict or a person with hoarding tendencies. To avoid adding to familial friction, Jill recommends the following:

If your spouse is the so-called “problem clutterer,”

First, get started working with Jill by taking care of your own areas.
Next, work on the rooms of the young children.
Then, move to family areas like basement or kitchen.

In any case where the spouse’s stuff appears, it is either boxed and labeled by location (basement work table) or sorted and labeled in a general way – Jim’s Books, Jim’s Papers, Jim’s Tools.

It is never ethical to ever give away or throw away somebody else’s belongings. In most cases, the spouse sees the progress and feels the benefits of the organizing and then asks for help after the first few sessions. For more on Jill's Ethics & Privacy Policies, check the confidentiality section in About Jill.

No one can organize someone else to achieve a lifestyle change if that person is not ready, willing and able to participate. The individual needs to participate based on personal goals, understanding of the benefits and motivations for change!!

Money: What if I want to change, but my spouse won’t spend the money?

This can be tougher. If you can convince your spouse to contribute a few hours of time and a modest investment of money (your birthday gift, perhaps?) for a Space Planning Consultation, (usually around 2 hours), then after hearing the ideas and seeing the drawings, he/she can choose to at least try one sample session. Usually the consultation is enough to impress the “naysayer.”

Visioning: How can I get mentally ready for that first call?

Here are some things you might want to think about beforehand and maybe even jot down some notes. You can choose to share this information with Jill or not. Giving these questions some deeper thought helps to focus your motivation to move forward with the greatest speed.

Here are your questions:

“How do you feel about the clutter?”

“What are the most painful parts day-to-day living with disorder for you?”

“Can you think of any positive benefit you gain from the clutter?”

“What is the scariest part about clearing, sorting and organizing?”

“What will it cost you (stress, health, relationships) 5 years from now if you put it off?”

“What will your home or office look like when it is done and how will it feel?”

“What level of order will bring you contentment or even happiness?”

“How will you feel 5 years from now if you actually achieved your goals for organization and have been enjoying the fruits of your work every day for years?”

Calling: What happens during the First Phone Call?

Basically, this first phone visit is all about you having a chance to share your story – the current situation and the circumstances that drove you to call. Some of the questions may be similar to these below.

“Where are you now and where do you want to go?”

There is plenty of time to ask any questions that are bothering you and most important of all to express your dreams for your life in the future.

“What is getting in the way of your success now and in the past?”

Whatever obstacles to success you are worried about can be discussed to see if Jill can provide workable solutions for you.

“If those obstacles could be avoided, what would you be willing to do to achieve your goals?”

Some clients reach out and call for organizing guidance to escape the pain of their situations– the total overwhelm.

Others see organizing as more of an opportunity to prevent future problems and improve day-to-day function now before things get worse. This is especially common for those in the Boomer generation after going through piles of belongings of an older relative who has died. Some say this experience was a wake-up call!

“What was your wake-up call?”

Asking yourself these fundamental questions gets at your motivation and readiness to undertake this organizing process of transformation.

Of course, you may prefer to not share your answers to these types of questions and there is no requirement to do so. This is simply a way to open up your thinking, to shake out those cobwebs and get your brain ready to make a delightful change in your day-to-day life.

As you speak on the phone with Jill or other professional organizers, check your intuitive perception as well as your intellectual assessment. You can contact Jill now, or keep reading to learn more.

“Are you really being heard or do you sense you are being “sold” on a set of cookie-cutter services?”
“Do the questions and responses sound clear, intelligent, and caring or like a pre-written ‘needs assessment’?”

On the Cost/Benefit Ratio:

I have no regrets that I spent the money for your services. You helped me a lot and I continue to reap the benefits of your hard work and know-how. Thanks again for your help. You are worth your weight in gold!!! I have no hesitation in highly recommending you.
S.R., social worker, Gaithersburg, Maryland


































On a Client’s Turning Point:
“I was stagnating. I was trying to figure out why I was unhappy. I realized I couldn’t stand to come home to my house. I just reached a threshold. Initially, it was hard to call Jill, but once I started, I could see the change and movement, so right away, I was hooked!”
D.O., government health management, Bethesda, Maryland




















On Confidentiality:
I enjoyed your consult yesterday. You had a lot of good, practical points and some were deeply profound. I appreciate your assurance that our talk was completely confidential because we spoke about personal things.”
E.R., parental caretaker, Silver Spring, Maryland













































On a Husband’s Anticipation:
“Dear Jill-of-all-Trades,
I feel younger already after 9 ½ hours yesterday and 11 ½ hours today of learning, working with you & benefitting from your expertise, wisdom and hard work. You are a master teacher – and yes, I see myself making more income and having more happiness as we continue to implement your strategies and work with you. After 3/4 of a day, my husband said he is “excited” to have you working with him too!”

M.I., psychologist & artist, Arlington, Virginia

















On a Husband’s Joy:
“I just had to call to tell you that after you left and I came back inside, my husband said, ‘You’re right about hiring her. Nobody else could get you to get rid of all this stuff!”
S.B., craftswoman, Washington, DC
















On a First Call Conversation:
“We have a ‘spare’ bedroom that is stacked sky high, head high with inherited stuff and paper and old clothes and even kitchen stuff. Now, I want to lighten up and stop stuffing it...

But – I fear that I might stuff my emotions and go along with your ideas and then have regrets or come up against you or not be able to hear....

But – I know that I want music and exercise and meditation and an office. I want to try some hobbies. It would be so wonderful to be in a welcoming, peaceful, serene home with clear surfaces. When can you come?”
R. L., grandmother extraordinaire, Kensington, Maryland