Diane Quintana of DNQ Solutions, LLC made her first foray into organizing as a substitute schoolteacher who wanted to improve the efficiency of her classroom. Inspired, she eventually decided to take her business out of the schoolhouse and into the homes and offices of the chronically disorganized in the Atlanta metro area.
A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, the Board of Certified Professional Organizers, and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, Diane Quintana is a firm believer that the relationship between expert and client should not be a one-time fix. Rather, professional organization should be, in her estimation, an ongoing partnership along life’s quirky, challenging, and colorful path.
A blogger, consultant, and author currently working on a new book, “Now What: An Easy Organizing Guide,” Quintana is a fountain of useful, real-world organizational tactics. Consider this note from a recent blog post:
Another key component to getting things done is to take care of the things you least want to do first. Perhaps you think it will take too much time and so you decide to put off this task that you don’t want to do until you have enough time to complete it all at once. In my experience, you never have enough time and if you just go ahead and start this dreaded task you may find it doesn’t take nearly as long as you anticipated that it would. Also, starting this dreaded task allows you to more clearly break it down into manageable smaller steps. So, start and do as much as you can in the time you have allotted to the task and then move on to other tasks that are scheduled for that day.
Great advice — and advice I know I should take at times! Here are some highlights from our talk:
Meet Diane Quintana, professional organizer
Jenny Young: How and when did you get started as a professional organizer?
Diane Quintana: I was an elementary teacher working as an on-site substitute, and when I wasn’t in a class, I’d help the other teachers get organized. One day, one of the teachers said, “There’s a place for people like you.” That’s the first time I heard about NAPO, and that’s what introduced me to the concept of working as an organizer as a job.
I think a lot of us came to professional organizing in a roundabout way. And now, more and more people are starting out as organizers as their primary career. It’s a niche market, but there’s a real need.
Jenny Young: What’s your process?
Diane Quintana: Since my background is in education, I like to organize to a client’s learning style. That’s the first task, to figure out your style. The system will be more effective if they really buy into it. What supplies do people use and where does it make sense to them? There’s a lot of questions, a lot of probing.
People are funny. Sometimes they will answer a question the way they think you want them to. People have this preconceived notion of how organizing is “supposed” to be.
Jenny Young: Why might a person hire a professional organizer?
Diane Quintana: I think a time is going to come when having a professional organizer in your life is going to be like having a general practitioner. It’s going to become a go-to, because our lives are so busy.
Organizing is not a done-once-and-you’re-done sort of thing. As your life changes, your organization style is also going to change. That’s where a professional is going to be someone you have come back regularly.
Jenny Young: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Diane Quintana: When it clicks — for example, when people finally realize that it makes most sense to put like with like. I love it when that happens. I get so many calls, so many emails from clients who say, “I can find my important documents now,” those kinds of things. When people really get it and benefit from it, that’s what I love.
Jenny Young: Do you have any tips for people who want to declutter or get themselves organized?
Diane Quintana: Start small. Start with a drawer, a section of a closet. Set out four boxes: toss, donate, recycle, and marinate. That marinate box is for things that you’re not quite sure, or you’re not ready to get rid of yet. Allow yourself to think about it, and you’re less likely to get overwhelmed.
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