Smart Picks Part I

Professional Organizing

Sure, having to search for papers on a messy desk every day can be a real waste of time. But did you know how much time? A recent survey conducted by Accountemps, a worldwide temporary staffing service based in Menlo Park, California, revealed that executives waste the equivalent of about five weeks each year trying to find missing items.

Luckily for those who suffer from disorganization, an increasing number of entrepreneurs who have superior organization skills are starting businesses to help those who don't. Ruth Wong, who started her business, Organization Plus, in Aiea, Hawaii, is one of them. "Organizing is my passion," says Wong, who, in addition to owning her own professional organizing business, teaches organization classes and is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) in Austin, Texas.

NAPO's membership has increased more than 200 percent since Wong started her business in 1991, when professional organizing was still a relatively new business concept in her area. So new, in fact, there wasn't even a section for the business in the Yellow Pages. So as her business grew, Wong successfully lobbied to have an "Organizing" section introduced in her local Yellow Pages--which is how most of her new clients now locate her.

Wong works primarily with corporate clients--streamlining paper flow, purging and organizing desktops and work areas, rearranging schedules, and creating `quiet time' to help them avoid interruptions. A small percentage of her time is also spent helping residential clients rearrange living and utility spaces, such as closets and cabinets.

"Organizing is a process; it's not a one-time event," says Wong, who creates and distributes a newsletter to clients on her mailing list to encourage continued organization. "What I try to do is teach my clients the basic principles of organizing. Usually, after I teach them the basics, I let them take the principles they've learned and apply them themselves. Really, I try to work myself out of a job."

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Smart Picks Part I.

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