This Los Angeles Pro Organizer Helps Clients Look Around—and Within
It shouldn’t be a surprise that people in Los Angeles—known for being laid-back, a little bit scattered, and spread too thin—struggle with organization. Ashley Moon Stanfield has seen her role as a professional organizer evolve to meet these struggles. “I’m a professional organizer, life coach, and musical artist,” she says when asked to describe what she does. But while she’s been a professional organizer for over 21 years, and has owned her own business, Creatively Neat, since 2010, she found her calling when she realized that most of her clients’ struggles with organization had deeper roots than a messy garage or a cluttered office.
Intentional Organizing can Change Your Life
“When I first left my job (and started Creatively Neat), I thought, ‘Is this it? Am I just going to be cleaning up people’s messes for the rest of my life?’” says Stanfield, though she soon realized there was more she could do. “I started life-coaching because it became organically part of the process through organizing,” she says. “Now, I . . . help clients that need help decluttering and staying clutter-free. It’s really about connecting the inner and the outer clutter. I help busy people release and rejuvenate by clearing external clutter and internal blocks so they can live a more intentional and balanced life, so that they can feel balance and purpose.”
Sorting Through the Inner and Outer Clutter
While Stanfield uses a lot of practical hands-on strategies to help her clients literally declutter their space, she also encourages them to look at what aspects of their lives have led them to the point where they’re overwhelmed and feel like they need help. “Over the years I’d work with people’s physical clutter, but I realized that there was something else behind it. I started getting people to slow down, to connect with their breath.” By encouraging her clients to acknowledge that their disorganization is as much a reflection of busy lives, spiritual disconnect, and hectic schedules as it is a problem caused by material things, Ashley is able to help them embrace lifestyles and routines that are more conducive to keeping things ordered and manageable. “As an organizer and coach,” she says, “I help them create healthy habits and rituals for their space.”
Sort, Purge, Contain, and Organize
That doesn’t mean, however, that Ashley doesn’t roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty when the situation requires it. Like many professional organizers, she utilizes a system created by Julie Morgenstern, widely considered the founder of professional organization, known as SPACE. The acronym stands for Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, and Equalize. It’s a formula that is tried-and-true, though one that Stanfield has modified to meet her unique, individual style. “Getting organized requires the three action steps—sort, purge, and organize,” says Stanfield. “And then there’s homes and habits. Find a home for everything and then get into a habit of putting them into their homes.”
In practical terms, it means that Ashley starts by first sorting through a client’s belongings, and then going through them one-by-one to determine which items her client is ready to get rid of. Take a cluttered garage, for example, which is often where Ashley starts her work when she gets a call from a client. “People put everything they don’t know what to do with in the garage. It becomes their storage unit,” Stanfield says. “It becomes so full of stuff that they don’t know what to do anymore. I get the call, ‘Oh my God, I’m overwhelmed!’ And it’s easier for me to start to sort through everything, because it is easier when it’s not your own stuff . . . I go in non-judgmental, positive, and I tell them, ‘We can do this.’ Then comes the purge. Only keep what you love and use. The ‘keeps’ get organized. And then, finally, you buy or build storage.”; When it’s all said and done, the key is that everything that has been sorted and kept is there for a reason, and that everything that remains in a client’s space now has a clearly defined place to call home.
Organizing in L.A. Isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All Proposition
As easy as she makes it sound, Stanfield knows from experience that organizing is different for everybody. “With some clients, I just have 3 hours with them and they’re good,” she points out. “And there are others that I’ve been seeing on a regular basis over a decade. Some are okay with me doing it for them. Some want to get strategies so they can do it themselves.” The key to getting organized, and staying organized, however, is making sure that she tailors each project to the client’s individual needs. “You have to listen to where they’re at,” she says, “to where they want to be and what’s standing in their way when it comes to clutter. I will follow the same steps with each client, but each person’s way of working with you is different. Their pace, their budget. Does it need to happen right now, or can we slow it down and not rush it?” In the end, Ashley boils staying organized down to a single mantra: “Staying organized requires mindfulness,” she says. Though it’s clear that a little elbow grease and hard work doesn’t hurt any, either.
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