Betty Arnold, 67, retired nearly three years ago from her job as an administrative assistant and started her own business in Carrollwood pursuing her lifelong passion: professional organizing. She calls herself the Organizing Queen. On Saturday, Arnold will be working with other local organizers on a shred-a-thon for charity. Visit tampabayorganizers.com to learn more.
How did you get started as a professional organizer?
I was in a Toastmasters club. It's a speaking club, and people join it to hone their speaking skills. You learn voice modulation, body language and listening skills. You learn a lot, and it's very good and a lot of fun. So I was always looking for something to talk about at Toastmasters, and it was January, and that was GO month — Get Organized month. And I read this article, and I found out organizing was a profession. And a light bulb went off. I had always wondered what I would do when I grew up!
So this was something that always interested you?
Intuitively, it was a natural for me. When I worked at the publishing company, my boss used to call me the scheduling queen and the organizing queen, and he used to lend me out to other people, saying, "You need to organize a party? Use Betty! She's the organizing queen." When I was thinking about names for my business, I thought, why not claim it?
Did you need any kind of training?
I took tele-classes online, which were offered by the National Association of Professional Organizers, and I read everything I could get my hands on and learned who the pioneers in the field were, and I went to conferences and did workshops.
Are these conferences well organized?
Oh, my goodness, yes. What do you think?
Do you work full time now?
I see clients in the morning and do marketing in the afternoons. I have three organizers that work for me now, but that took time to build the business.
What is the most common thing you see?
Paper. Paper, paper everywhere. People have paper on every surface of their home, and they don't have an established filing system. It's very simple. I'm telling you, you could learn it in kindergarten.
What is the worst level of disorganization you've seen?
There is a limit that we call hoarding. People who are hoarders, that's a branch of professional organizing. It's a subspecialty. I don't do hoarders. I refer that to someone else.
So who usually calls you?
When I tell people I'm a professional organizer, people laugh and say, "I could use you." While they probably could use me, they don't usually hire me for my services until there's a disruption in their life, like an illness. It doesn't have to be negative, though. It can be a marriage, combining households, or a new baby.
What do you tell people?
I have a book called A Resource Guide to Time and Space. Over the two years, I have just written down what to tell my clients.
How does that help?
So many people are working at home, but they don't set it up first. They just do it without setting up a filing system and thinking about how work will flow. Even if you don't work from home, you still need a system for your own household to run. You might need a file for your kids' activities, whether its dance or soccer.
So it's about learning to keep track of the things you need and learning what you don't need?
I try to tell people, just as it was exciting to purchase something new, it's also exciting to let it go. Because those things are taking up real estate and making you feel crowded instead of relaxed.
What do your clients say when you're done?
They say, "This feels so good. This is such a relief I can't tell you. It's like a burden off my shoulders."
Asjylyn Loder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 225-3117.