It’s critical to understand a person’s dominant personality and organizational style preference…
- How do you design an approach for a client who is terrified to put something away for fear of never seeing it again?
- Would you suggest the same solutions you’d use for an individual who feels claustrophobic when there’s too much stuff around?
- What about clients who are Savers versus those who are Minimalists? Do you help clients distinguish between their individual definitions of “clutter”?
- And what do you do with a Straightener who has to share space with a No Rules style personality?
As a professional, it’s critical to understand a person’s dominant organizational style preference in order to recommend the best products or systems that will not just address the problem areas, but allow them to fix their spaces for good.
Your long-lasting success lies not in your professional guidance to help clients declutter, but it’s also critical for you to work with them to create a path to easy maintenance and clean up when, with time and use, their systems become out of control. If you don’t work WITH your clients’ organizational styles, it’s very likely that what you’re doing will not stand the test of time because it was not originally a good fit. Your ability to create lasting, customized, client-life-style solutions will determine your long-term professional success and pave the path to endless referrals.
Everything Out vs. Nothing Out
One of the least effective organizing systems I have seen was one autocratically imposed by a small business owner who had a team of twenty salespeople. Although he was clearly intending to be helpful, his solution was a one-size-fits-all – that really just fit him. He insisted that everyone have a clear desk by the end of the day, believing that this would eliminate visible mess, enhance sales, and increase the sales teams’ productivity because it would save time each morning, allowing them to get right to work. Unfortunately, his ‘Nothing Out’ solution did not take into account the needs of his ‘Everything Out’ employees who panicked when they had to dash-and-stash each evening in the name of owner-mandated neatness. Not only did it rattle them, but they actually LOST time each morning by having to reset, look for items and re-establish their systems.
Nothing Outs would experience the same loss-of-control issues if the situation was reversed — if they were told they needed to leave all of their work on top of their desks each evening, creating unmarked piles – they would probably end up completely overwhelmed, unproductive and feeling claustrophobic.
Clearly, not every solution works for every person.
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Minimalists vs. Savers
Take Minimalists and Savers: Minimalists like to feel streamlined while Savers like to, well, save. If you suggest to someone with even slight saver tendencies that they need to remove (much less throw out) 50% of their “collections” in order to have clear space needed to get organized in the space they have, they would likely rebel, whereas those with a dominant Minimalist style preference would likely enjoy and savor the challenge! They don’t have as much sentiment invested in their belongings as do Savers and so it’s easier to make decisions about what to pass along or dispose of.
One of the key behaviors that differentiates a Saver from a Minimalist is found in how one assigns value to belongings, and this determines whether a person keeps or is willing to let go of items. Additionally there are other factors that come into play between these two preferences including: how one maintains balance, equilibrium or equanimity between what comes in and what goes out; how one evaluates her possessions over time; and how one determines an item’s usefulness in its degree of sentimental significance, its aesthetic value, or its monetary worth.
Many people who have a dominant Saver style preference have deep emotional attachments to what they hold onto thereby can require a certain sensitivity, and in the most extreme cases, special training for professionals to be most effective. I was once helping a Saver client, Doreen, clean out a filing cabinet when we came to a section at the rear of the bottom drawer. She suddenly sat back and was quiet for a moment. Doreen then told me that those folders were related to a business that she had wanted to start a number of years ago and never followed through on. It was clear to me that these papers weren’t just papers, but rather were evidence of a road not taken — one strewn with regrets and guilt. We needed to process those feelings before we could make decisions about the files. (Savers who also demonstrate hoarding behaviors are best-handled by professionals with accreditation. If you are interested in working with these populations, it’s important for professionals to go in with eyes wide open. I highly suggest you explore the amazing resources and training available through NAPO’s sister organization ICD.)
Straighteners vs. No Rules
Straighteners and No Rules style preferences are at opposite ends of the continuum when it comes to their willingness and ability to tolerate disorder. Appearance is often more important to Straighteners than function, which can be aggravating (and often even invisible) to No Rules personalities who can seem oblivious to how things look.
I once coached a single mother, Mandy, and her 14 year old son, Zak, who were constantly arguing about the way their house was managed. Mandy was a Straightener and needed things to look orderly and Zak…was a teenager. He was No Rules all the way. Although not all teens fall into this style dominance, it can be, often temporary, yet a common occurrence for many. So if you encounter this with your clients, how can two people with opposite style preferences like these comfortably co-exist?
A great compromise in these situations is to divide and conquer. I feel strongly that it’s important for individuals to believe that they have some control over their personal/private space and in this case Zak’s bedroom served that purpose. We worked together to come up with a compromise where he agreed to clean it once a week by himself and keep the door closed when it was ‘status quo’. Shared spaces, however (i.e., the rest of house) were to be maintained at a certain level of cleanliness and order for Mandy to feel confident comfortable, in control, and have peace of mind.
Finding a middle ground and establishing boundaries between private and shared spaces can make all the difference when there are style clashes. Understanding the nuances and idiosyncrasies of each individual style preference will increase the effectiveness of the strategies you use with your clients. Focusing on their preferred ways of managing space and time will enable you to select the perfect systems and products for your client’s needs. To learn more about the style preferences and how you can help your clients using these styles, go to: https://www.sanespaces.com/prm/prosignup.
Once you identify your dominant preferences – are you an Everything Out™, Nothing Out™, Minimalist™, Saver™, Straightener™, or No Rules™? – you can begin to take steps to integrate more Flow Steps into your experience.
The Time & Space Style Inventory™ (TSSI™) evaluates your time style preferences and how you manage priorities, attend to details, and take action. By learning your dominant and strong style preferences, you can learn to make the most of your time and choose to take actions that increase natural flow in your life. Consistently taking the Flow Steps in your styles of dominance will help you successfully manage your self, and your decisions about time.
Can You Relate? Share What Works For You In The Comments!
- What about these style preferences resonates for you?
- Do you have any examples, tricks or techniques to share of your own?
- I invite you to pull back the curtain and reveal your techniques that work to manage your space in the comments section below!
EMBRACE your natural style!
Make it work for you – take the Time & Space Style Inventory™ and identify your time and space styles and enjoy your life @ http://bit.ly/tssifree. Cena Block (sanespaces.com) specializes in helping moms design work on their own terms and build smart supportive systems that create time for living. A business coach and author, Cena has collaborated with professional organizer and author Sunny Schlenger (suncoach.com) to create the Time & Space Style Inventory™ – a tool that not only identifies natural behavioral styles but also enables you to use that information to create a personalized road map to manage your time and space. Find Sunny’s new book: Flow Formula: A Guidebook to Wholeness and Harmony on Amazon.com.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net