by Crystal Sabalaske | Featured Contributor
I admit it. I am a professional organizer who has been in business for over twelve years, and until recently, I have avoided stepping out of my comfort zone to hire any outside help. My personality and profession demand a certain level of control. To give up control would be like eating shellfish and waiting for the worst to happen, or so I thought.
My tastebuds stand up in protest every time I take a bite of seafood. They always have. Friends, family and chefs have prompted me to “try just a little” over the years. Same result every time. Gag! One “try just a little” plea in 2006 resulted in an allergic reaction that lasted for days. I had eaten a BITE of crab, but I attributed the hives and the slight difficulty breathing to either bed bugs or sand mites from our vacation rental house. I swore off visiting that beach town again until…..
Years later, in 2009, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease and digestive disorder linked to gluten that damages the small intestine. The diagnosis led to additional allergy testing, and that’s when I learned that I’m highly allergic to shellfish. I finally had a legitimate excuse to refuse the “try just a little” pleas I had been fending off for years.
Now I must confess. I have been avoiding other “try just a little” suggestions too, and I’m not referring to illegal drugs. Clients, mentors, family members and friends know that I don’t stop working once I leave a client’s home or office. I send e-mail reminders, homework tasks and information that pertains to each client frequently. I donate and sell items on my clients’ behalf and perform all of the administrative tasks related to my business. I don’t get much sleep. In many ways, I’m not different from a lot of other business owners.
When people suggested hiring sub-contractors or employees to help with the physical or administrative tasks related to my organizing business, the physical reaction that occurred in my body was almost on par with eating shellfish. I was filled with anxiety. It became difficult for me to focus, and while I didn’t break out in hives or lose the ability to breathe, I felt very uncomfortable and looked for every opportunity to get out of the conversation as soon as possible.
I have worked hard to build my reputation in the organizing community as a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is professional organizer. The very thought of giving someone access to influence my community of clients is extremely scary, but I recently realized that if I continue running my one woman show at the pace I’m used to, my family will forget who I am. I may just end up buried in my own office under my own pile of papers because I’ll never have time to file them.
So I did it. I hired help. A few weeks ago, I asked a friend to help me with some minor administrative tasks like research and copying articles I’ve written. I hired a virtual assistant to help me put together a telesummit, something I’ve never done before and know requires a lot of work. I still feel a little bit of angst imagining what’s being done on my behalf without checking in on every little detail. I’m not quite ready to relinquish any work directly related to my clients, but I will continue to step outside my comfort zone and delegate activities that I either don’t have time to do or don’t know how to do well.
The idea of hiring help always seemed as dangerous as eating shellfish because I couldn’t predict the exact outcome. I finally looked at the reasons why clients hire me and discovered why I needed to hire help myself.
I am employed as a professional organizer not because my clients don’t know how to organize but because they don’t have time or know the best way to do it. I know that I don’t have time to do everything in the most efficient way possible, and this is why I need help too.
In a few short weeks, I have learned that eating shellfish really has nothing in common with hiring help. I have handed over several tasks to people who are more prepared to manage them. Hiring help is going to help me keep my business alive. For me, eating shellfish …..well, that just isn’t going to end well.
Crystal Sabalaske, professional organizer and owner of Cluttershrink, has been helping people get organized in their homes and offices since 2002. She has appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s series, Mission: Organization, and her organizing tips have appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Parents, and Women’s Health magazines.
Crystal’s philosophy about organizing involves making simple changes based on an individual’s needs at work and at home. While she is committed to getting job done, she’s not at all serious and tries infuse the process of organizing with a little bit of fun.
Being organized saves time, money, and relationships, and when you maximize the potential in those aspects of your life, you have more time to focus on doing things that truly make you happy. For Crystal, those activities involve singing, reading, taking walks, spending time with her family, making up twisted tunes, brainstorming about her next business idea, and drinking iced tea.
In addition to hands-on home and office organizing, Crystal shares her passion for organizing by offering virtual coaching for individuals and workshops for business and social groups. She also offers relocation organizing services and thinks that after moving 18 times, she knows what it takes to get the job done right. If you really want to get Crystal fired up, just ask her to speak about organizing your kitchen for food allergies. She helps her family manage 19 of them!