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MEET Janet Taylor:  Janet Taylor, founder of Totally Organized LLC, has displayed an innate tendency for order since childhood. Clients Taylor has worked with, helping them add order to their personal lives and businesses, include motivational speaker, Les Brown, the City of Philadelphia and IKEA. Her commitment to assisting others in becoming more organized inspires her to publish a monthly newsletter, Totally Organized Living. For her work, Janet has appeared on the lifestyle TV show Mission: Organization which airs on the Home & Garden Network (HGTV). This clutter-free organization expert is also the author of 101 Secrets To Living An Organized Life as well as a series of organizing eBooks. 

Madame Noire:     The NationalAssociation of Professional Organizers records at its website that, on average, American executives waste as much as six weeks of time searching for important documents. What keeps executives from being more organized?               

JT:        Today executives and other workers are balancing various daily tasks, meetings, voicemail and emails. Furthermore, some executives don’t have an assistant to help them with day-to-day administrative tasks, helping them maintain their files and paperwork. Executives who do have an assistant, may have to share their assistant with one or more other managers. I’m often called in to help executives and other workers find paperwork (documents they stored away years ago, but can’t find when they need them now). Many clients I work with spend 50 percent of the day searching for documents, etc.

To help workers become organized, I teach them to manage their time (i.e. don’t open and respond to emails as soon as they come in).  For example, if an email isn’t related to something you’re working on right now or if an email isn’t a priority, leave the email and work on it later. This is important, because as you switch back and forth from task to task, it takes longer to complete tasks. Bottom line, if you take one hour to plan your day, that could save you three to four hours of execution.

MN:     You’ve worked with clients like the University of Pennsylvania, Hewlett Packard, Les Brown Enterprises and the Paul Robeson House. If you had a list the top two reasons you’ve been able to land deals with major clients, what would they be?

JT:        1) I have partnered with previous clients who value what I do and know the positive impact organization has on business, and 2) those previous clients have referred me to influential business owners and organizations. A lot of my clients came through referrals. People also know that I know how to keep confidential information confidential. Also, I am consistent in networking with potential clients, building the relationships first then working on the sale.

MN:     Why did you decide to become a professional organizer? 

JT:        I decided to become a professional organizer after I was laid off from Bonetics Corporations, a company that oversaw a shared ride program for senior citizens.  Around the time I was laid off, I saw an article about a woman who went into firms and taught people how to become organized.  That article convinced me that I could be a professional organizer. Researching the industry came next. As part of  my research, I connected with other professional organizers across the country, asking questions about the field. I launched Totally Organized, working in my company on a part-time basis, in 1994. A year later, in 1995, Totally Organized became my full-time job.

MN:     How soon after becoming a professional organizer did you launch Totally Organized? 

JT:        I decided to become a professional organizer in January 1994. Totally Organized LLC launched in February 1994.  Since its launch, Totally Organized has changed. We’ve expanded our services and now offer contract administration, project management and office organization services. To support individual clients, people who want me to organize their homes, I created We also conduct tele-class workshops, covering areas like clear desk/clear mind (work space organization). Earlier in 2012, we delivered a workshop at the Philadelphia Home Show. The topic of the workshop was “creating a home free of clutter.” Topics covered in other workshops we host vary. That said, during our tele-class workshops, we cover ways to organize your home and office. We’ll eventually start presenting our workshops via webinars.

MN:     What resources did you use to finance your business and how much did you initially invest in Totally Organized? 

JT:        I’m not sure what my initial investment was, but I would say less than $500.  I was able to use severance money from my layoff to invest in my business. During those early days, I transformed an extra bedroom into my office. I also got a phone line and a business license.

MN:     Have you seen an increased interests in your services during the recession, especially as people look for ways to save money? 

JT:        Yes; I have seen an increase in the requests for my services during the recession.  Clients want to maximize their existing space and know that getting organized will save them money. For me, it’s been a big pick-up since the recession. People are becoming more aware of the impact disorganization has on their lives. They’re becoming more aware of how being organized can keep them from purchasing household, office or personal goods they already have, but don’t know they have because they misplaced or can’t find the items.

MN:     To date, what’s the most challenging organizing job you’ve taken on?

JT:        I worked for a client who showed me to a room that had boxes and boxes of paper and documents dumped on the floor.  There were enough boxes of documents to fill an average-size living room. This was before scanners became popular and people could create electronic files. I was given the task of categorizing and organizing the documents, but was not given direction as to what was in the files, how to organize the files, etc. When I finished the job nearly two weeks later, six departments at the firm had organized and labeled archive files.

MN:     Outside of money, what key disadvantages does being disorganized cost individuals and businesses every day? 

JT:        Looking for documents that are buried beneath piles of paperwork waste time. Disorganization also creates stress, especially when it causes workers to miss deadlines. You could also find yourself buying things you already have, wasting gas, wasting time, and wasting more money as you travel to stores and fill up more space with things you don’t need, adding more clutter to your life. For example, a lot of people think they need a bigger house, but what they really need is to eliminate clutter from their homes and get organized. Believe it or not, 80 percent of the stuff we keep, we never use.

MN:     Give us four signs that reveal we’re disorganized?

JT:        The signs are:

1)      You miss deadlines

2)      Bills are paid late simply because you misplaced them

3)      You buy additional household products ( i.e. batteries) needlessly  because you can’t find the ones you already have

4)      You end up with two or more of the same personal items (i.e. the same black shoes, white blouse) because you don’t see the fashion wear in your disorganized closet

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