|Working with Beth can help you tame those piles of paper, and she can also help you find more time by limiting time-wasting habits.
NW Organizing Solutions
by Virginia Bruce
Did you resolve to get more organized this year? If so you’re not alone, it’s among the top five most common New Year’s resolutions. And you don’t have to be alone in reaching your goal, either, because we have an organizing expert in our midst!
Beth Giles has always been organized, and she loves to help people and to teach. So she was able to put her natural skills together with some professional training and started her company, NW Organizing Solutions, a little over a year ago.
She began her training with an intensive one-week hands-on program at the Professional Organizers Training Institute in Oregon, followed by a guided practicum with a client. She joined NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers—napo.net), and is an active member of the Oregon NAPO chapter, and continues to take online courses to expand her skills.
She works with all kinds of people who have many different goals. From teens to seniors, almost everyone can use a little help with getting organized, whether it’s time management, cleaning out a garage, or excavating the family room so the family can actually enjoy it.
Most people are a little embarrassed to ask for help. After all, managing ourselves is something we’re supposed to learn in childhood, right? Well, not always. Beth says many people come to her for help after some kind of event in their lives has thrown them off track—“perhaps they moved and never found time to get things set up in a workable way, or they started working full time and couldn’t keep up with life, they had a death in the family, they began working from home, they had a baby or family member move in, and so on.”
But Beth is trained to help. Asking the right questions, offering encouragement, and taking things step-by-step can tame the worst situations. She says that some people are reluctant to let her see their messy spaces, but she’s seen it all and probably worse than anything you have to hide.
“There’s no one way to organize your life or your possessions, because everyone thinks differently,” she says. “And I won’t tell you what to keep and what to toss. Those are personal decisions. But I can give you some guidelines and help you to focus on your goals so you can achieve what you want, and maintain it.” Ah, there’s the rub. She does sometimes get called back to help a client get back on track. But usually she is able to teach her clients to make those little decisions, find places for everything, and maintain the hard-won order in their lives because the rewards of an organized space and life are so compelling that people don’t want to go back.
She has several different ways that she can work with a client. During a free phone consultation she explains that she can come and work with you to set some goals, create a plan, give you a to-do list, and some advice about what to purchase or re-purpose to achieve your goals. That can usually be accomplished within her minimum three-hour consultation.
Most people prefer to have some hands-on help, however. She creates the plan and works with the client over several sessions, giving them “homework” to do between visits. She says, “At first, people don’t like to get the homework, but as they progress and experience the improvement, they’re anxious to find out what they’ll be working on this week!”
For those with bigger goals or less time, she can work with you every step of the way, helping you sort and move things around, and even purchasing organizing aids like closet inserts or bins (she gets discounted prices from several local vendors like Closets to Go and the Container Store). But she still needs to have her client involved, since it will be up to them to maintain the order once it’s achieved.
One person she worked with recently had a goal of being able to use the dining table to eat on. This person had a home-based business, and the only place she could find to keep her computer was on the table. Beth worked with her and discovered some unused counter space in the kitchen, and with the purchase of an appropriate chair, the problem was solved.
Are there people who can’t be helped? Only if it’s not their idea in the first place, she says. “It cannot be another person’s desire making them hire me. It does require their involvement and they need to be committed to making it work.” And that goes for teenagers, too. She has helped several kids get themselves sorted out, but not unless they’re willing.
|Beth works on a downsizing plan for a senior move. The colored squares are pieces of furniture that the client wants to keep.
Beth recently trained for the specialty of senior moving. Most people find that they need to do a significant amount of downsizing when they move from a family home into a senior center or assisted living facility. It’s a difficult situation, both physically and emotionally, and adult children are usually both too busy and too emotionally involved to be very helpful. Beth can come in and make a plan of the new home space, and help the family decide what will fit, what’s important to keep, and what to let go of—and how to get rid of it! NAPO Oregon even provides a downloadable guide for where to recycle or donate everything from furniture and appliances to clothing and technology.
Originally from New Jersey, when she was in her 20s Beth decided she wanted to travel. She found a job teaching in the Philippines for a year. After returning home, she met her future husband, who is from England. He worked as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan for several years, and eventually took a job at Intel which brought them to our area. Their daughter, just graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in business, but her specialty is event organizing!
Her older son is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, working on a degree in biomedical engineering, and her younger son is a senior at Westside Christian. The family lives in one of the Bauer neighborhoods, and is active at Sunset Presbyterian Church, where Beth was a children’s director prior to starting her business.
NAPO Oregon is a very active group, with regular meetings and several programs that they offer to the community. One of these is an in-school workshop for kids from grades two to four. Beth demonstrated one of the exercises to the Cedar Mill Business Association at a meeting last year. “I bring along an assortment of objects,” she says. “Each object has several different characteristics, such as length, color, or use, and I ask the kids to organize them on three paper plates. Different kids choose different criteria for organizing. This lets them see that there isn’t just a single way to think.”
The group is sponsoring a free Organizing Expo on January 30 at Montgomery Park in Portland, from 10 am–3 pm. Beth will be participating in a panel of experts who will be answering questions throughout the event, and she’d love to see her Cedar Mill neighbors attend. Other activities include demonstrations of products and exhibits from a variety of partner organizations. More information is on the website at napooregon.com.
When Beth and her husband moved to the area, she had only 24 hours to find a new home. But she’s really glad she found a place in Cedar Mill. She joined the CMBA shortly afterwards, and has found the group very helpful in getting established. She participated in the Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market booth, where she found five new clients.
Beth has a great website, www.nworganizingsolutions.com, where she explains how she works with clients and offers some free advice. Plus she sends out a monthly email newsletter—this month’s issue outlines the critical steps for getting organized: sort; purge; assign; contain; and maintain. Contact her to get on the list or to get started with your resolution at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 503-709-0791.