Written by Beth Penn, Author of The Little Book of Tidying & Founder of the declutter service Bneato Bar
I have been helping clients sort, process and organize their belongings for over ten years, but I I’ve been drawn to this kind of work since I was a child. When I was little, I would maximize my closet space and repurpose it as a bedroom for my stuffed animals. Married and divorced parents caught on to my love of keeping spaces tidy and kept me as one of the busiest babysitters in the neighborhood since I also tidied once the kids went to bed. What started as something I truly enjoyed doing became a way for me to help others as they go through many of life’s transitions.
When I tell a stranger who, for example is going through a divorce or some other life changing event, what I do for a living, they usually say, “OMG, I COULD USE you in my life!” The term, Professional Organizing, brings up similar connotations for people. I get hired to make closets and pantries look impeccable post-divorce. My team and I can color coordinate with the best of them. However, it’s more likely that my divorcing clients are overwhelmed and need my services to get their lives in order. Sure, matching bins and Instagram-able moments are great but they aren’t at the heart of what I do.
Whether it's a divorce or something else, folks are usually going through a big change when they call me. Some of the most common reasons in addition to divorce that an organizer’s services are needed include a new baby, a death, or a move. These situations tend to come with weighty emotions, which result in individuals not being able to take on one more thing (like decluttering, dividing up assets or organizing a move). A professional organizer can step in and play many roles during the project: confidant, project manager and of course, organizer.
When I am brought onto a job, I am helping divorcees and other clients create systems for their home or project. Each organizing job is unique and the system mirrors that. There is no a one-size-fits-all solution. But there are organizing rules that work for everyone. I call them “Our Beliefs.” Whether you’re starting a new job, moving across the country or moving on to your next chapter following a divorce, our sentiments will help guide you.
We believe in starting. Break down your task into the smallest, tiniest, teeny bit possible and start with that. Don’t think about the finish line today, just think about your next course of action. Only have one minute? That sounds just perfect. Start with that.
We believe in finishing what we start. We get it. New habits and routines are a challenge to keep up with. That’s why it’s important to start small to curtail burnout. Take it a little bit at a time to ensure that you finish. And why rush to get to the end when this is your new normal?
We believe in simple. For us, less choices equals happiness. Why spend oodles of time laboring over options (like which of your 10 grey sweaters to wear) when you could already be done? Plus, who doesn’t love more free time to do whatever you please?
We believe that structure equals freedom. Planning rules, hands down. Planning saves time and money, which means less stress and anxiety (and that equals freedom in our book).
We believe that music is one helluva motivator. Turn it up and get busy doing whatever your heart desires. And please don’t worry that you’ll disturb the neighbors with your guilty pleasure music. Who knows, you just might inspire others with your newfound energy.
We believe in making room for you first, your stuff second. If your well-being sucks (pardon our french), how are you going to take care of your house and family? When you make time for yourself, it’s a lot easier to take care of your world.
We believe that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better. “Perfection is the enemy of good.” — Voltaire. In other words, if you’re waiting for the conditions to be perfect to start, things will never get done.
We believe that accountability is so much better. A trusted friend, family member or professional is always a safe bet to help you reach your goals.
We believe you already have what you need. All you need is you (and a really good playlist).
We believe a better life is a decluttered one. We want to create a world in which folks constantly get the feeling that they’re winning at life— which happens when you can quickly maneuver through a streamlined inbox, efficient home entryway or creative project task list.
And even though this list is for everyone, it can also be customized and tailored specifically for YOU. I have a feeling, not everyone likes to listen to my favorite Sirius station (Yacht Rock) when they organize. I’m a big fan of taking what works for your situation and leaving the rest.
Similarly, ‘It’s Over Easy’ has so many different services for each couple. I’m in awe of the vast wealth of knowledge that Laura and her team have created for folks going through a divorce. Everything from a podcast, to this blog, to varying levels of plans for every budget.
It’s a wonderful resource that allows access to services that usually cost a lot of money. Services that no one should be denied. I’m especially fond of ‘The Index’ – a curated list of resources that Laura and her team have put together. When you’re going through a divorce, access to trusted folks that can help is a must.Beth Penn is the owner of Bneato Bar, a Los Angeles professional organizing company. Beth is also an author, speaker and life hacker. She wrote the book, The Little Book of Tidying, an inspirational decluttering companion. She has also appeared on the The Today Show for her Naked Inbox service, which helps clients master their inbox and to-do list, and is featured on