Featured Organizer:

Kathi Burns, CPO®, Author and Founder  of Add Space to Your Life!

Sunny San Diego, California is the home of professional organizer Kathi Burns. She began her business, Add Space to Your Life!, in 2003.

How did you get started as a professional organizer?

My organizing education began early in life. My father is the ultimate organizer. I dub him “Mr. Systems Man.” He used to drive the entire family crazy with his systems within systems within systems. He began labeling items and drawers way before the advent of label makers. He not only organized everything in my life, he can also find any item requested instantly.

Ironically, it didn’t dawn on me until a year into my new business as a professional organizer that I had learned most of my organizing skills from my father. It might be true that you become what you most dislike in your parents. Fortunately, what was so aggravating about Dad in my youth has grown into a very valuable skill and profitable business. He is never at a standstill and constantly creates new ways to become better organized.

What are your specialties?

I am a paper flow specialist, space efficiency expert, image consultant, columnist and soon-to-be-author.

What was your previous career?

Over the course of 25 years I have worked in seven different industries. I was blessed to have a mother who told me again and again that I could succeed at anything that I wanted. The hardest part of this advice was determining what I actually wanted!  I have been a classical violinist, audio engineer, travel writer, national sales trainer, publisher, advertising executive, sailing instructor and a US Coast Guard licensed captain.

Many clients ask me how I learned the skills that I use in my career today. Reflecting on that question, I realize that like everyone else, I am the culmination of all that I have experienced in the past and things I learned along the way.

For instance, I learned after living for months aboard a small vessel, that almost every possession I owned back on dry land wasn’t important for me to live my life to the fullest. I did not value, miss or even think about any possession left behind.

In retrospect I believe that my de-cluttering habits began on my very first long voyage out to sea. When I returned home, I went into a deep purge of my possessions and got rid of almost half of everything that I owned. The original result was so incredibly liberating that I have continued to do this after every long trip or return from sea. This is why I haul my client’s items away at the end of each day. I want them to experience the feeling of space and freedom the day they decide to let go of their unnecessary clutter. It feels fantastic and is extremely cathartic!

What are some of your favorite organizing products?

The one product that I use on almost every project is the Sterilite shoebox (either the single or double size). These amazing little ditties are workhorses that flexibly perform amazing feats from dividing drawers to organizing office supply cabinets. Not glamorous but extremely versatile.

Give us your BEST organizing idea.

The concept that adding space and creating order in a physical environment sometimes appears to be a small change. These small changes often create huge, unexpected and lifelong benefits with the way the client views the world.

It is not boring to be organized. Becoming organized allows you to have more freedom to create and work with your true passion. Additionally, there is no “one way” to organize anything! As a creative process, organizational systems should be customized to how each client thinks, uses space, and, most importantly, remembers details.

Tell us about your most interesting organizing experience.

The first organizing job that I performed was indeed the most interesting and life altering

My friend Lyn Snow, an aspiring artist, was a bonafied packrat and thrift store junkie. She loved shopping for bargains and her home was bursting at the seams.  We both decided that she needed to clear her house and wardrobe to create new beginnings and add more energy to her life. We began clearing in earnest and at the end of that first day she said, “Hey, you are really good at this! And you were really gentle when you made me get rid of the things that no longer worked for me,” to which I replied, “This is really fun!”

These few words brought about an epiphany. I realized that my crazy quirky love for change is exactly what people need who want to transform their environment or image. Many folks are afraid of change. They are resistant to it even when they know deep inside that they need it. I saw that my greatest strength could be used to help people transform and improve their lives.  Instead of being a detriment, my openness to change means that I can help clients change. I can effortlessly see their lives transformed long before they can. I now gently hold the space and shine the light for them until they move into it and embrace it fully for themselves.

Kathi can be reached at:

[email protected] or by calling 760.840.9997

Visit her website today – www.addspacetoyourlife.com.