Why not to clean up?

At a recent networking event I was talking to an acquaintance about the work I do. I mentioned that I encourage my clients not to clean up their spaces before I arrive. She gave me a horrified look.

It brought back childhood memories of my mother telling me to clean my bedroom before the cleaning lady came. I never understood the point of cleaning my room so it would get cleaned by someone else. There is a family disagreement about why. My mother told me it was so I would have an easier time finding my favorite things later, but my sister remembers being told that it was so that the cleaner would have more time to do deep cleaning. I assume that part of the reason was to lessen the embarrassment of the mess before the cleaning person could see it.

I have heard people in all walks of life say that they’re too embarrassed to have a professional organizer come over because their place isn’t clean enough. But as I explained to my acquaintance, I need to see what a new client’s typical set-up is. It helps me identify their specific challenges, and work with their routines and spaces so the changes we make are easy to maintain. If everything looks neat on the surface, it’s harder to identify the organizing problem spots.

I’m not saying don’t take out the trash, but think of an organizer as similar to a car mechanic. If your engine makes a funny sound, one does not hope it stops before bringing the car in to a shop. Usually you want the mechanics to hear exactly that sound, so they can identify and fix the problem. Instead of being embarrassed by a mess, look at it the way an organizer does, as a sign that your storage spaces/systems could do a better job of meeting your needs.  

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