Recently I read an article written by Josh Mcloughlin for the Spectator|Australia titled “Jordan Peterson and the cult of tidiness”. Full disclosure, I haven’t read Mr. Peterson’s book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules of Life. However, the article written by Mcloughlin about Peterson’s book caused me to reflect on our profession as productivity experts and professional organizers. Asking myself about the reasons we chose to pursue this profession and the value we provide our clients.
The idea that clutter makes a house a home is promoted in this article. That a person can be naturally attuned to things and the relationship with things is not bad. Beyond a general misunderstanding of what clutter is, there is also a lack of understanding that, as in most areas of life, our attachments can become unhealthy. It made me realize, as well, that Mr. Mcloughlin may have a general misunderstanding of what professional organizers and productivity experts do. Even though this article could be dissected even more, I want to address the idea that separating someone from clutter is done even at the expense of the client’s wellbeing and mental health.
As members of National Association of Productivity and Organization (NAPO) we are bound by an ethical code. Causing someone mental anguish is not on our list of a successful client session. It is about empowering the client to be in control of the things in their environment rather that the other way around. It is also about giving them power over their time and their calendar. I am positive we have all worked with clients that have varying levels of comfort with the amount of items in their space. A true professional organizer is not there to impose these ideas on the person, but to help that person better define those boundaries for themselves to truly have joy in their space.
As professional organizers, and members of NAPO, we work hard and thoughtfully to support our clients with compassion through the process of decluttering and organizing. Many of us have seen severe and extreme situations that put a person’s health and well being at risk. All of us have experienced working with a client who has distress, anxiety or concern about clutter and disorganization they personally live with – that’s why they call us. We have witnessed firsthand the energy change and the emotional uplift decluttering and organizing their space has given them.
Being organized and managing your time (productivity) to live your best life is not just a cultural phenomenon, there are true benefits: mental, physical in some cases, and financial. Professional organizers and productivity experts are trained to support their clients through the process and help them find a system that works best for them. They are successful when their clients are successful and have achieved their goals. We are not there to cause our clients mental anguish, but in fact the exact opposite. We are trained professionals that are there to help our clients achieve mental clarity and hopefully a new found happiness and joy.