Julie Bestry is a certified professional organizer who lives and works in Chattanooga, Tenn. She’s a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, the director of program development for the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers, and founder and owner of her own consulting business, Best Results Organizing.
In 2002 — after a career working as a program coordinator in television — she left the business and started Best Results Organizing. After a dozen years helping the residents of the Volunteer State get organized, Julie Bestry is certain that she made the right choice.
Julie took some time to speak to us earlier this year and explained her career transition, her organization philosophy, and the key to staying organized — “wanting it.”
“I teach people how to take control” An interview with Julie Bestry
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: How did you go from television to professional organizing?
Julie Bestry: Well, I used to spend a lot of time helping my colleagues organize their offices, workloads, and schedules. And I wouldn’t just do it for them. I’d detail the process — explaining what I did, how I did it, and most importantly, why I did it.
Without really realizing it, I was doing organizational consulting on the side. I was helping a large number of my coworkers and, eventually, entire departments with my organization strategies. And I absolutely loved it.
I left and started Best Results Organizing, which is now 13 years old.
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: Tell us about Best Results Organizing — what you do, who you help, etc.
Julie Bestry: I work with residential, home office, and small business clients. I specialize in paper management and digital information flow.
At the base level, I teach people how to take control of their own environments, and offer them a defined path to serenity. To be a successful professional organizer, it’s about more than being personally organized. It’s about understanding different personalities, certain mental health conditions, and other intricacies of people’s personalities.
You have to figure out the person first, and then develop a strategy. What isn’t working for them? What can change that?
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: What are some the biggest challenges you face in your line of work?
Julie Bestry: An initial challenge is that some people who don’t understand “professional organization” don’t understand the difference between “organizing” and “cleaning.”
Cleaning, while very important, is about the stuff. Organizing is never about the stuff. It’s about how we interact with the stuff. It’s the intellectual and emotional component. Cleaning makes things look neat, while organizing makes them functional.
Basically, people sometimes don’t understand the difference between a professional organizer, a cleaning person, a mental health counselor, and often, a marriage counselor.
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: On the other side, what are some of the biggest challenges that your clients face in terms of getting (and staying) organized?
Julie Bestry: Doing the work to change. They have to want it.
Sometimes people aren’t willing to make those functional changes. They know they need to improve their life in some area. They recognize the problem. They know they want to change it. However, they’re not willing to work to change it.
For instance, I get a lot of potential clients who tell me their spouse wants them to get more organized. This typically doesn’t work. The client needs to want it and be willing to make the commitment to change.
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: So, if someone wants to get organized, and they’re willing to make some changes, what are some basic tips you’d give them?
Julie Bestry: Structure is key. Don’t wait until you’re out of clean pants, or you’re “inspired” to do the laundry. Instead, set aside a time and day to do your laundry every week.
It’s like, you tell a child to brush their teeth after dinner, because if they wait until they have a cavity, or they’re “inspired,” the cavity will certainly come first.
Whether it’s filling your gas tank, doing your laundry, or managing your finances, you need structure.
I often use the common cliche with my clients – “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” Everything should have a home, but not everything has to live with you. You have rooms, places, or ‘zones’ for everything. And beyond those overarching zones, you have smaller zones – places where your coffee mugs go, for instance.
If a couple each has one cup of coffee in the morning, they do not need 30 mugs taking up space in the cupboard. Group things by type and function, but get rid of the excess. Remove things that aren’t helping you achieve your goals.
A big thanks to Julie Bestry for all of the thoughtful advice to pass on to our readers.
If you have some unneeded clutter in your home (maybe 28 coffee mugs), you know you can find affordable self storage at Uncle Bob’s Self Storage in 25 states around the nation. Here’s a map to help you start your search.