Linda Birkinbine earned her Master’s in Library Science from the University at Buffalo in 1986, and had been working in the field for 12 years when she discovered the National Association of Professional Organizers.
While Ms. Birkinbine enjoyed her job as a medical librarian, she felt a calling to utilize her organizational skills in a different way. She consulted the Encyclopedia of Associations on the library reference shelf and found NAPO. She joined the group shortly after, and the following year, Ms. Birkinbine attended a conference in Cherry Hill, N.J. where she met and secured her first billable client.
She’s been on a roll ever since. Ms. Birkinbine is a now familiar face at the annual NAPO conference and currently serves as a NAPO ambassador. She belongs to the New York & Washington, D.C. metro chapters, is the co-founder of the New York chapter’s Upstate N.Y. Neighborhood program, and runs her own consulting business, Keep it Organized.
In 2007, she earned her accreditation as a certified professional organizer.
“Everyone, no matter what age, occupation, or status in life, can benefit from being more organized,” Ms. Birkinbine says. “It saves time, money, and alleviates stress because you know what you have, how much of it you have, and where to find it.”
Birkinbine: “Organization is not linear”
“People are disorganized for a number of different reasons,” she explains. “Many of my clients are ‘chronically disorganized’(and) need to be ready to embrace change. That’s how I help.”
First, Ms. Birkinbine must help her client to understand organization.
“Organization is not linear,” she notes. “It’s circular. You are constantly doing the same things, day after day, season after season, year after year, over and over. That’s life. It never stops, and you need simple routines to keep up.”
Is there a single answer to organizational issues? No — but there is a strategy that does seem applicable in almost ever case.
“Simplify!” Ms. Birkinbine announces with gusto. “Our lives are so complicated by all the tasks, opportunities, information, and distractions that hit us all day, every day. Think twice before you say yes to something, whether it’s a commitment of your time, a simple ‘to-do,’ or a possession you’re thinking about adding to your life.”
No shame, no blame
People, she added, should not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Ms Birkinbine is a firm believer in the “no shame, no blame” approach. With that understanding, however, the only way to solve the problem of getting organized is, well, by getting organized — and that means cutting ties with excess stuff.
“Whether it’s an old dresser, a collection of books, or some kitchen appliances, if you’re not using it in your day-to-day, you should remove it from your everyday space,” Ms. Birkinbine says. “This will alleviate a ton of stress and make your journey to organization much shorter and attainable.”
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