Five Minutes with a Professional Organiser
Living North speaks to Tracy from Personally Organised, a North East personal decluttering service that brings the beauty and life back to your messy spaces
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Tracy from Personally Organised – I’m a wife, a mum, a fiercely loyal friend and I’m also a professionally registered personal home organiser based here in the North East. I’ll let you into a little secret – I’ve not always been a tidy person. I remember my nan telling a very messy seven-year-old me that she would never come to my house for a visit because it would be a tip; if only she could see my home now! It’s a far cry from the chaos of my childhood bedroom.
I’m not sure exactly when the organisation bug bit me, but it was probably around the time when I had my first home and I realised that being organised and clutter free was a smarter way for me to live. I’ve always been involved in organising – from my family and friends moving home, getting a new kitchen installed, or just generally wanting a hand to clear out the attic or garage. I was always the person who they would call to help.
Before becoming a professional organiser I worked in many roles including hotel manager and learning disability nurse. I worked as a nurse in Sunderland and South Tyneside until I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2019. I took a sabbatical for my treatment and surgery, which became permanent in 2020.
Where did the inspiration for Personally Organised come from?
To be honest, up until the end of 2020 I had no idea that the profession of personal organisation existed. It wasn’t until my friend called me and said, ‘Tracy there’s this programme on Netflix and there are two women who are just American versions of you,’ that’s when I discovered The Home Edit.
I wondered if there was an industry in the UK for organisation, and that’s when I found APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers), who I am a proud member of. At the time I was working for my husband’s business, but once I found out that there was this whole world of professional organisers out there, I decided to start Personally Organised and help people in the North East with their organisational needs.
What can clients expect when they work with you?
I have a code of professional ethics that I share with my clients when we work together, this outlines my commitment to my clients and my colleagues in terms of confidentiality and integrity. This code of ethics is also part of my APDO registration which holds members to account to uphold the integrity of the profession.
In terms of day-to-day expectations from my clients, initially I offer a free 15-minute consultation, so that they can explain what they need and I can see how I can help. Some projects are easy to organise, such as garage reorganisation, however some are more complex and they need more planning. For these projects I suggest face-to-face consultations in the space so that I can assess what needs to be done and make a plan on how best I can manage the project.
When it comes to organising, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like things to make sense to the client, look amazing and also work with everyone who needs to use the space. Sometimes this can be a challenge, especially when we are looking at reducing the amount of items in a space. The decision to let go of items is always that of the client, however sometimes I need to encourage deeper decision making, especially when there is a tendency to overstock or hoard.
Do you take recycling and repurposing into account?
Absolutely, I’m a passionate environmentalist and recycler. Re-purpose and re-use are the core values of Personally Organised and I love that I can bring these into my work. I want to make sure that the things that people are letting go of are going to purpose and not just into landfill.
What are your most popular services?
The most popular services right now are kitchen and wardrobe reorganisations. People are getting ready for the summer and they are looking to clear their homes from the winter clutter and prepare for the summer with clean and organised spaces. The other thing that people are asking me to do at the moment is a declutter to get ready for a home move. Lots of house moves are happening and I think people realise the benefits of decluttering before you move and not having to take their excess with them to their new home. I’m also starting to get busy with garage organisations, these are getting booked in for Father’s Day.
What’s the best part about what you do?
I love the effect that organisation has on my clients, especially when they see the before and after pictures and experience life in their newly organised space. When I talk to my clients at the beginning of the process there are lots of emotions attached to their spaces and their ‘stuff’ – feeling overwhelmed, guilt, shame and chaos are a few that are common. When the job is completed they can live in their homes and feel calm and free from those emotions. It’s an amazing privilege to be able to do what I love and help people at the same time.
I also love problem solving and helping to resolve my clients’ organisational challenges. Finding effective and sustainable solutions to make the best use of a disorganised space is where I find my happy place. I honestly believe that a clutter-free life is a happier life and when you have a space for everything and everything is in its place – life is so much better.
What’s the hardest aspect of your job?
The hardest part is spiders – I’m not a massive fan of big, fat black spiders and I encounter them a lot. I’m getting much better at dealing with them now, I don’t flap about when I see them, I just relocate them and get on with the job.
What are your hopes and plans for the future of Personally Organised?
My hope for the business is to continue to help the people of the North East with their organising needs.