Happy New Year!

I hope you and your family have had a lovely holiday season, including some rest time.

It’s hard to believe, but January 17, 2023, marks my twenty years in business. Isn’t it amazing how the years can fly by?

Not only is it a big business anniversary, but I’ve also decided this is my year of semi-retirement (because I love my clients and career too much to retire fully!). I will be shifting my focus to virtual organizing, so please know that I’m still available if you need me.

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently, and I feel incredibly grateful for my varied career and the friendships I’ve made.

Many of those friendships came from beginning my membership in the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) in 2003. I’ve maintained my membership ever since and took their inaugural exam to achieve my Certified Professional Organizer® (CPO) title in 2007.

In 2004, I began my subscribership with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) and started my journey into specializing my services to serve my clients better.

My clients, students, colleagues, and family continually inspire me. In a career that has included downturns, young children, empty nesting, and a global pandemic, one thing has remained constant — strong connections with amazing people.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me, and I hope you’ll enjoy some of the highlights I share below of the past twenty years.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Things I’m Grateful For

●      My husband, Stefan, and our two children, Alex and Hannah, whose support made all of this possible

●      My wonderful clients and students – you’ve kept me going!

●      My fantastic team (Katie, Casey, and Melissa) who made the work richer and lighter

●      Incredible colleagues that feel like family

●      An industry and profession that feels like home

My Business Fun Facts

●      Attended 22 conferences all over the nation

– as well as presented at conferences in Canada (POC), Japan (JALO), and London (APDO)

●      Completed over 325 continuing education hours

●      537 (and counting) incredible clients

●      Longest project: over 400 hours

●      453 (and counting) inspiring students

Don’t worry; I’m still here!

Remember, this is semi-retirement! 😄 I’m still available for virtual organizing.

And I would gratefully appreciate you keeping the Institute for Professional Organizers in mind if you ever know someone curious about what it takes to become a professional organizer.

Last month I invited my organizing clients and prospective clients to send me their organizing project, and I would select one for my Certified Virtual Professional Organizer re-certification course project.  This offer was free and included six hours of virtual organizing services.  I received many projects to consider, and it wasn’t easy to choose the one that would be best for my course project.  I selected Theresa’s project for several reasons, and her project was also the first I received.

Theresa is a full-time Therapist, mother of two young children, wife, and the year prior to the pandemic was seriously ill and nearly died.  It took her the better part of a year to recover from her illness and then the pandemic hit.  Understandably, home organization was a lesser priority over the past couple of years and as a result, almost every area of her home needs decluttering and new systems established.

When I asked Theresa why she wants to get organized and where she needs assistance, she wrote,

I have ADHD and feel I function best when my environment is tidy, orderly, minimally cluttered. I would like to get help with some of the projects I most avoid which are:

  • Kids’ toys and art projects over the past number of years
  • My clothes (which are among the hardest for me, because of weight fluctuation and emotional attachment to them)
  • My workspace (I am aiming to start a private practice and also work three days per week from home with current employer…my home office space needs some tidying)
  • Utility room
  • Paperwork
  • Coat closet
  • Kitchen pantry and refrigerator
  • Linen closet

I will add that we have a fairly small “apartment-style” home. We own it, but it is a 1950s duplex. The kitchen and storage closets feel more like apartment sized spaces than “family of four” spaces (which is what we are). We also host a homeschool pod (4 kids, 1 hired teacher) in our family room downstairs. That said, there is a small school environment (doubling as our family room) outside of my WFH office.”

Theresa and I met over two weeks for six hours total and completed three spaces in her home; launching and landing pad for their home-school pod, Theresa’s wardrobe, and the laundry space of her utility room.  Below are before, during, and after photos of the areas we organized virtually.

I asked Theresa a few questions about our work together and if you are curious how virtual organizing sessions work and if they are successful, read on.

What did you think of the process used to identify and address your organizing goals?

I found the process very helpful.  The questions helped me think about my goals and organize (in my mind) what I wanted to accomplish.  Putting my goals in writing prior to the initial phone consultation (along with the pictures I sent) was also useful.  I found it very helpful to photograph problem areas—in and of itself, this helped me see the extent of our home organization challenges with “fresh eyes,” so to speak.

How did the actual virtual sessions work for you? Did they meet your expectations?

The actual virtual sessions worked really well for me.  The only other time I have worked with a professional organizer was in-person in my home.  While I can see some benefits (eg: she physically helped me move some items, assemble a small shoe rack, etc), I feel the outcome of virtual sessions was the same.  For our family, having virtual sessions would be more affordable and practical, time-wise, since I was able to set aside just 1-2 hours at a time for the virtual meeting and then accomplish tasks here/there in between all of my other responsibilities (ie: work/patient care, private practice start-up, parenting, etc).

I would highly recommend the virtual format for busy people such as myself!

What did you learn about yourself in the process?

I found it encouraging and helpful to hear Anne’s perception that I am actually good and accomplishing tasks in between sessions.  Generally, I have so much on my plate that I feel I am constantly “under-performing,” which frustrates me.  I learned that having someone else see my progress helps motivate me to continue the work.  I tend to be hard on myself and have trouble celebrating accomplishments, as I immediately see all the other tasks I still have to do.  Anne helped me appreciate the little “wins” throughout the process.

What did you learn about organizing, or what it takes to make and maintain progress organizing?

I found it really helpful to consider that each space or area needs to have a clearly defined and well-articulated purpose.  I can see now that some of the ideas I had about various areas within our home (and the purpose assigned to those areas) were different from the ideas that others in my family had about the same spaces.  There is still some discrepancy between my ideas and my husband’s ideas about some of the areas, but knowing we are not on the same page is a helpful starting point for moving toward agreement/consensus.

I also loved how Anne talked my kids through some of the questions they had about organizing.  Even though I had to heavily “incentivize” my kids to participate, I think their involvement was very important.

What were your “aha” moments?

As elementary as it may seem, I had an “aha” moment in the laundry area when Anne helped me see that the laundry room was a mess (in part) because the clothes that no longer fit me are taking up all the space in my bedroom, causing me to leave the clothes that I actually WEAR right now to just stay downstairs in the laundry area.

It was also an “aha” moment when Anne invited me to consider whether something makes me feel sad, mad, or bad as part of the criteria for getting rid of it.  Previously, I had tried to use the KonMari “tidying” method of asking myself if an item sparked “joy.”  However, the concept of whether something sparked “joy” felt too philosophical and elusive to me.  I can so easily relate to the idea that something makes me feel sad, mad, or bad, though.  I will absolutely continue using that approach.

Any other feedback? Ex. communication process (emails, texts, Project Session Journals), time commitment, expectations vs. accomplishments.

The process was so helpful, overall.  I do really well when I have someone else giving me an assignment that is clear, specific, achievable, measurable, and time-framed.  I tend to resist the notion of “smart” goal setting, but Anne did not present that way to me (even though that is exactly what we did together) so it was a clever way to get me to buy into a strategy that is evidence-based and effective J

Would you recommend virtual organizing to someone who wants to accomplish specific organizing tasks?

Absolutely.  I have already told several friends about it.  I learned so much.  It required minimal effort in the scheme of things, and the return on investment for me and my family has been substantial.

Would you consider our work together a success?  Would anything improve the process?

Yes.  I would say our work together was successful.  I did not accomplish quite as much as I had hoped (in the laundry area, in particular), but I made remarkable progress with Anne’s support.   I cannot really think of anything that would improve the process.  My life is going to remain excessively busy for the foreseeable future, given my professional obligations, the ages of my children, the age of our puppy, etc.  That said, I did the best I could with the time available to me.  I am very pleased with what we achieved together and look forward to working with Anne again in the future.

Would you be willing to have your feedback shared on my website or marketing materials as I promote my virtual organizing services?

Yes! Thanks again, Anne.

photo Launching & Landing Before


Overall, I’m a fan of this show! Cassandra has an approachable personality, as she is not too serious or too much of an overly exuberant cheerleader. She’s non-judgmental and compassionate towards her clients.

Cassandra classifies her clients into “clutter bugs”; Bee, Ladybug, Cricket, and Butterfly. I have watched two episodes comprising four different clients.  From those episodes, this is what I learned about the different clutter bugs:

Bees. You love visual abundance along with organizational abundance (micro solutions). You prefer to see your everyday used items and you need really functional storage or you tend to pile items until you can put them away “properly”. Bees are very visual and tend to be perfectionists. If something is out of sight, it is out of mind, and you forget you have it. You are also a sentimentalist and get attached to everything. You associate your things with memories. You keep things in case of “what if” scenarios.

Crickets (this is me). You love visual simplicity and organizational abundance (micro solutions). You prefer your everyday used items hidden out of sight and kept behind doors or in solid bins with labels. But, you do tend to pile items until you can put them away properly. You are a classic organizer in every way.

Ladybugs (Cassandra claims to be one). You love visual simplicity as well as organizational simplicity (macro solutions). You want all your items stored away behind closed doors, but you need fast and easy systems or you tend to just shove things anywhere. You get stressed by clutter.  If something is hard to put away properly, you probably won’t.

Butterflies. You love visual abundance and organizational simplicity (macro solutions). You need to see everyday used items, but you also need fast and easy systems in order to put your items away. You tend to leave your things out wherever you used them last. You like big bins that you can toss things into with simple labels. Most children are butterflies.

Cassandra’s approach with her clients is

  1. To assess how they are feeling about their environment. Most clients on the show shared they are stressed, overwhelmed, embarrassed, or a combination of those feelings.
  2. Next, she identifies what their obstacles have been to get organized, which ranged from, don’t know where to start, paid a lot of money for things, want to pass stuff to children, and get started but then overwhelmed with the decisions.
  3. Activities for the space are identified and homework assigned to declutter the things in the space
  4. Rules are agreed to, such as if it hasn’t been used or worn in the last 12 months, it is non-negotiable and needs to go.
  5. Once everything is decluttered, materials are delivered to the client, and Cassandra instructs them on why they were chosen and how to organize their kept items in the containers and storage systems.

TV makes it look as though the transformation happens in a matter of hours, but the reality is each project on this show took at least a week to complete.

I think the show represents how organizing virtually can and does work. Cassandra’s approach is very similar to mine. Additionally, clients receive from me:

  • A written summary for each session
  • Donation and other resources to assist the client with the organizing project
  • Client communication (emails, texts, calls) between sessions to discuss any issues they encounter
  • Any materials needed for the project are reviewed by the client before purchased
  • A simple maintenance plan to help clients stay organized

Are you ready to give virtual organizing a try?

Schedule your free 15-minute Get Started consultation.


What is virtual organizing?

  • Virtual organizing is a process for getting organized through the use of telephone, email, photographs, Zoom Video Conference, FaceTime, or other technology.
  • The primary difference between on-site organizing and virtual organizing is clients don’t have our hands to help you move and sort your items.

“Our expertise, your hands.”

  • It can be an accompaniment to the traditional organizing format or an alternative to on-site organizing assistance.
  • It is collaborative—both the client and professional organizer develop a plan to achieve the desired outcome based on the initial assessment.

Why virtual organizing instead of hands-on organizing?

For some people, access to an on-site professional is either limited or not possible due to a variety of factors, regardless of need.  There is also a large population that is better able to succeed through organizing virtually over the physical presence of another person.  Due to our current economic and pandemic times, we realize that the “gap” is widening, making access to professional help more challenging for both the client and professional organizer.  What I have discovered is that for many people, virtual organizing can have the same beneficial outcomes as on-site sessions in terms of skill transfer and long-term organizing success.

What are the benefits of Virtual Organizing versus hands-on organizing?

  • Virtual organizing is sometimes more comfortable for the client rather than having the professional organizer present in their environment.
  • Virtual organizing fees are often lower than hands-on organizing fees.
  • Sessions are shorter in duration, so they are more manageable to fit them into your schedule.
  • By doing the work with your own hands and more on your own, rather than the professional organizer doing the work for you, you will be learning and applying organizing skills.
  • There are no geographical boundaries.

How does it work?

  • The client walks the professional organizer through their space virtually and discusses their goals, strengths, and challenges.
  • The professional organizer prepares a plan tailored for you to make a difference in your space and with your systems.
  • To ensure a successful outcome, in-between sessions, the client completes organizing tasks that the professional organizer assigns.
  • The professional organizer instructs organizing sessions while the client supplies the physical work. The client will be learning and applying organizing skills during each session.
  • At each session, we review your progress and achievements, and, if necessary, troubleshoot any roadblocks you experienced.

Access Our Virtual Organizing Services

During times of uncertainty, people like to be able to predict things, to know what’s coming. Cleaning is a form of ritual or repetitive behavior that’s repeated, predictable, and can provide a sense of control over one’s environment. Organizing, although not cleaning, can evoke the same sense of control, of getting our things and life in order.

If you are decluttering and organizing during this time of physical distancing and staying at home and now have a slew of things to donate, it is not as easy because many donation centers have temporarily closed. Here are a few suggestions of what to do with your donations until they reopen:

  • Give Back Box provides vendor services to retailers and charities, giving every cardboard box a second life to help people in need. So, it is also a ‘green’ solution! Reuse your online shipping boxes in which you received your purchases or any other cardboard box you may have to donate your unwanted household items: such as gently used clothing, shoes, etc.
  • Rose Haven Visit their website for a list of what they are accepting.  Drop off Donations between 9m and 12pm Monday – Friday 1820 NW Irving Street, Portland, OR
  • Insider Livings Mattress Disposal Guide
  • College Hunks will pick up your items and provide eco-friendly recycling and donating.
  • Thredup has a donation program where they send you a package that you fill with items and send them back. They typically will give $5 to the charity of your choice, but right now they are doing $15 to Feeding America. You can contact them for a Clean-out kit.
  • 1800 Got Junk‘s no contact junk removal options.  Need to get rid of unwanted items and create more space in your home? 1800 Got Junk’s No Contact Junk Removal service allows them to remove items without direct contact, to ensure the comfort and safety of their customers and their teams.
  • If you have books to get rid of you can find a Prison Book Program.
  • There is also DonationTown where you enter your zip code and they tell you what organizations can provide pick up in your location.
  • Use online free-give-away communities such as FreeCycle and Buy Nothing.
  • Post your items on Facebook MarketplaceCraigsList, and other online options.
  • Put items out on the curb with a free sign on them.
  • Ask friends and family if they want any items you are discarding.
  • Reach out to local Senior Centers, Boy Scout Troops, and Mom’s Clubs to see if they’re planning an annual rummage sale. You may have to hold onto the items for a few months, but it’s motivating to know you’ll be helping your local community.
  • Contact organizations such as homeless shelters, transitional housing facilities, a local church, or synagogue to see if they need what you are discarding. Many are not accepting donations at this time due to COVID-19, but again may need them in a few months.
  • Box things up to donate later. Be sure to label what’s in the box.

Or, maybe you are not getting organized even though you have time on your hands.  Perhaps you have discovered that time is not the barrier to why you are not diving into your organizing projects head or feet first, but instead, there is an underlying reason. If that is what you are experiencing, Professional Organizers are great detectives at discovering and identifying what underlying causes prevent people from getting organized.  At SolutionsForYou, Inc. we offer virtual organizing assistance among our many services and can help you discover your barrier to getting organized during this time of physical distancing and staying at home or any time in the future.


Your health and safety, and that of ours, is our number one priority, always!  Due to Governor Brown’s Order: Stay Home Except for Essential Needs, we are not working at our client’s location.  However, your SolutionsForYou Team is available to work with you virtually during this time of physical distancing.

Anne received her certificate of Virtual Organizing training in 2014 and has extensive experience organizing clients virtually.

Virtual Organizing Certificate
Virtual Organizing Certificate

We can help you stay on track with a project we have already started or get started on a new project.

We will be with you every step of the process and keep you motivated with actionable assignments between virtual sessions.

Call us today 503.706.3502 or learn more on our website about how we can organize you virtually.

Our hope is you and your loved ones will stay healthy!

With gratitude,
Anne Blumer, CPO