Park City organizer: For less stress, compress the mess
Being organized has always come naturally to Michelle Powell. And for most of her life, it was simply a trait she possessed, something that made her world a little more clutter free and a lot less stressful.
But after moving to Park City from Michigan, she discovered commuting to Salt Lake City for work left her unable to spend enough time with her young children. She began brainstorming ideas to find a solution.
"I just thought life would be a lot easier if I could think of a job and a business that would let me work for myself," she said.
Powell found the fix by searching where she had never before thought to look — at her organizational skills. She started her own company, Spruce Organizing, not long after and has been helping Parkites de-clutter ever since.
"It just clicked," she said. "It was something I knew I could do and was excited about. I’m an organized person, so it was natural. And I think organizing comes naturally to maybe 20 to 40 percent of people. The rest are completely uninterested or unable to be organized. So I knew there were people who needed this. I just had to figure out how to make a living doing it."
Seven years later, Powell said her company has taken off and become an important tool for people who are overwhelmed by tackling large organizing projects by themselves. As well as consolidating rooms or closets, Powell offers estate management and helps people unpack after a move or pack up before one.
No matter how big the project, Powell enjoys the challenge of organizing, even though to others it may sound like tedious work.
"I totally love it," she said. "I like going into a place that usually doesn’t look that good and turn it around. I’m supposed to take before and after pictures, but sometimes I get so excited to get started that I get three hours into it and think, ‘Shoot, I forgot to take the pictures.’ You just have so many ideas of what to do and how the room would flow better."
Powell said nearly everybody keeps a handful of belongings well past the point of actually needing them. It typically doesn’t become a problem, however, until people run out of room in their homes. She’s seen garages overflowing with sports equipment and junk, closets billowing with blouses or trousers unworn for decades and offices with old receipts and paperwork bursting out of file cabinets. That’s when she comes in.
"We have a lot of people in the community who acquire, acquire, acquire but don’t want to get rid of anything," she said. "Sometimes it just helps to get someone to come in, go through the house and get back to ground zero. That makes it easier to get rid of the things you don’t use and don’t love so you have space for the things you do use and love."
Most people in town don’t neglect to throw out items because they’ve formed sentimental attachments to them. Rather, it’s the simple fact that staying organized can be overwhelming. So when Powell comes to help, she said, it often takes a weight off her clients’ shoulders.
"It’s not like the TV shows," she said. "People know what they want to keep and are ready to clean up. They just either don’t know how to do it, or don’t have the time for it, or simply don’t want to do it themselves. Clients have a lot of relief and happiness and are very grateful to have it done. They have more space, have this monkey off their back and an idea of how to keep it organized. It’s a mental lift, I think. It’s a burden of stuff, and once they get to release it, I think there’s a happiness factor."
There’s also one other major benefit to de-cluttering, Powell said. It often comes with unexpected financial rewards.
"Everyone always finds gift certificates, cash, uncashed checks," she said, smiling. "It can actually be profitable."
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