Lynne Ring has been organized her entire life.
“I can remember organizing my Halloween candy when I was a little kid,” she said.
Ring’s affinity for structure and neatness served her well as a mother and homemaker, as a partner with her late husband Don in Mid-Alta Motors and as sales manager with direct sales clothing retailer Weekenders.
Now it’s the basis for her current business: The Organizing Guru.
Operating since January, The Organizing Guru helps clients turn chaos into order. Ring shows them how to declutter, space-plan, improve work flows, sort and store belongings, and manage information and time.
A Red Deer resident, she is among the more than 500 people who belong to the Professional Organizers in Canada. Yet her service is a relatively unknown one.
“So many people don’t know what a professional organizer is,” said Ring.
In fact, she wasn’t familiar with the vocation when she stumbled into it late last year.
Ring had decided to leave her job at a bank, but before leaving offered to organize archived documents and other material.
“At the end of the week, I had two of the staff come up to me — one asking if I would organize a home office for her and another asking if I would organize their storage room.”
She discussed the possibility of working as a professional organizer with a friend, who introduced her to a member of the Professional Organizers in Canada.
In addition to being an association through which members can network and share resources, the Professional Organizers in Canada offers 18 courses on organizational skills, said Ring. Topics range from helping seniors to dealing with clients who are chronically disorganized.
Ring has taken 12 of the courses, and plans to complete them all. She’s found that her past experiences prepared her for her new career.
The more than 20 years she and Don operated Mid-Alta Motors taught her the importance of keeping a business organized.
“Taking your stuff to the accountant in a shoebox costs a small fortune, because they have to organize it all,” she said.
During her time with Weekenders, which lasted nearly 20 years and saw Ring end up in charge of 120 salespeople, an organized office was also critical.
Not everyone shares her commitment to order or has the mindset to achieve it, she acknowledged. Creative people, for instance, tend to operate in cluttered surroundings, and many seniors who have gone through hard times are reluctant to part with possessions.
“I always assumed, and it’s probably because I have a linear brain, that everyone would have that skill set of organizing. But there are many people who don’t.”
Plus, she added, it often helps to look at a business, home office or home with a fresh set of eyes.
“So many people are so close to the situation, they don’t see the forest for the trees.”
When new clients retain Ring, she begins by assessing their surroundings.
“An hour is usually what it takes,” she said, adding, however, that the time varies with the situation.
She likes to have clients group their belongings into four categories: treasures, which have an emotional attachment but no practical function; tools, which have a function but no emotional attachment; toys, which have both functional and emotional properties; and trash, for which there is no justification to keep it. The decluttering process proceeds from there.
“It’s the treasures that are usually the most challenging,” observed Ring. “People get really attached to things.”
In the case of businesses, she’ll discuss operations and paper flows. Solutions must be customized to the client’s personal needs, she said.
“Filing systems are only as good as the person that’s using them. So you really need to develop that system for the person that’s using them.
“Everyone thinks differently.”
At the end of the day, clients usually find themselves with increased space, improved efficiencies and a better frame of mind.
“The feeling of guilt is gone, and that’s huge with my home clients,” said Ring.
Additional information about The Organizing Guru can be found online at www.organizingguru.ca. Other professional organizers can be contactred through the Professional Organizers in Canada website at www.organizersincanada.com.