What to do when you need professional help

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I had a pro come to help me clean my office. The cost? Minimal. The benefits? Extraordinary.

I’ve never been a hoarder except when it comes to my office.

You know what a hoarder is, right? They are displayed in all their tawdry disarray on TV shows like Hoarders — their kitchens swimming in dirty dishes, hallways littered with boxes and gewgaws and bedrooms buried in exercise gear, trinkets and unwashed clothes. While most of my house is generally clean and well organized (we’re happy to have guests drop by without notice) and my office has never been even close to anything shown on Hoarders, it has been the black hole of my universe. (Photo above is from Flickr — I was too embarrassed to photograph my office!)

My problem was hidden in files. Boxes of them. And stacks of paper in a mind-numbing variety of colours, styles and sizes. And envelopes and cardboard. And overloaded drawers. Oh, and three-ring binders – I had several dozen of them – many containing information I no longer looked at or needed. But I’d never done anything about it.

My office had me completely daunted.

So last week I finally did something I’d been itching to do for years. I paid a professional organizer to help corral this mess. She was fantastic. Ms Clean & Organized arrived at my house armed with a blue Swiffer, big plastic bags and a laundry hamper (for any stuff that could be donated.) We spent three intense hours touching everything in my office -– and I managed to fill the back of her 4×4 with donations and paper recyclables. I’m not yet finished — we’re going to meet again in a few weeks to finish my filing system. But, already, I feel liberated.

My office, which had been an ongoing source of stress for me feels as clean and open as a farmer’s field that’s been harvested for the year. I love it!

So am I instructing you to clean your office? No way! Some people thrive in what I might consider a mess. One of my 17-year-old daughters, who is a great cook and very artistic, adores getting as mucky as possible – and her bedroom reflects her style. (I’m okay with that as long as I just don’t have to look at it much.)

But while I’m not suggesting you hire a professional organizer, am advising you to get professional help when you need it. This can be for business reasons — a bookkeeper, a graphic artist, a web expert –- or personal ones –- a trainer, a chef or a dogwalker. I was reminded of the wisdom of “contracting out” not just because of my own experience but also because of that of a subscriber.

Coincidentally, the same day my organizer visited, I received an email from a customer of mine who had bought my book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster Better, about a year ago. “I haven’t had time to read it,” she confessed. “But I’d like to sign up for your Extreme Writing Makeover .”

Now you might think it odd that a client who had failed to read my book would want to sign up for one of my courses. But my hunch is that she knows herself really well. Just as I recognized I needed a professional organizer to help me tackle my office, she knew that she needed a more structured way to learn about writing.

If you’re an owner of a hard copy of my book who hasn’t opened it yet (I know, it happens -– I got rid of some stuff from my office that I hadn’t yet read) understand that you haven’t wasted a penny if you want to try the course instead.

Here’s why: One hundred percent of the cost of the book can be deducted from the cost of the course. (Premium version only.) In other words, this makes the book free.

And if you’re nervous about committing to a full course, consider getting the book. That’s because the offer applies retroactively, too.

You’ll just need a special code. And for that you can simply email me.

Don’t lug around the weight of unrealized goals. I, for one, can tell you it feels so much better to get professional help when you need it.

Photo courtesy Kate*, Flickr Creative Commons