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The Hustle

Name: Stephanie Siwinski (Sorted Shelf)

Posted By Megan Holmes

The road from aviation planning to professional organizing wasn't quite a straight line, but after taking a few years off to spend time with her young children, Stephanie Siwinski saw an opportunity to make a difference. She founded the Sorted Shelf in 2012, way before Marie Kondo's organizing revolution, to help her clients alleviate stress, worry and clutter. She helps her clients get back on track (or start on track) through personalized organizing and unpacking solutions.

Years in Tampa Bay

Personally for 20 years, Sorted Shelf for 7.5 years

Hustle (job)

Chief Organizer

What do you do?  

Sorted Shelf helps individuals and families simplify their lives by creating simple, creative and individualized solutions to complex organizing problems. Often, clients hire Sorted Shelf because they don’t know how to start getting organized or just don’t have the time to do it themselves. Sorted Shelf works one-on-one with clients or independently to declutter and organize homes. We also manage unpacking and organizing with clients who are moving, and want the benefit of quickly getting back to their regular routine in their new home, while establishing organizing systems from the start.

Why do you do it?

I find it extremely rewarding to help others get organized and overcome the stress and worry that comes with being disorganized. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone transform their home and create positive changes in their life.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

My background is in Aviation Planning. After our children were born I stayed home with them for a few years. When it was time to get back to work, I knew I wanted to do something more meaningful than planning airport facilities. I found that what gave me the greatest professional satisfaction was helping others reduce stress in their lives by organizing their homes. After a brief apprenticeship, I opened Sorted Shelf in March of 2012, and have been fulfilled with the joy of helping my clients ever since.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

A common misconception is that the solution to decluttering is buying lots of storage bins and boxes. Having bins and boxes alone won’t reduce clutter and stress in your life. A professional organizer works with you to sort through your belongings into categories and to make decisions on what can stay or go. A good professional organizer knows what types of questions to ask to get you to work through emotions that are attached to certain objects, and start to make decisions on the value of keeping items. After that, we can recommend different storage solutions (if any) that would provide the most effective solution based on use and measurements of the space. You don’t really know what type of solution you need until you know how much stuff you will keep!

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

The most challenging aspect of my hustle is separating myself from a client and their family after a project is completed. As professional organizers, we work intimately with people in their homes. We get to know each other very well, and some of my clients have become great friends. As rewarding as my hustle is, it can be hard to say goodbye. But knowing there is another wonderful family waiting for help makes it all better.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

One of the most valuable insights that I have received was when one of my clients noticed how I was completing a particular task. She laughed and told me that I was teaching her how to “work smarter, not harder.” I did not realize I was doing that, but now I always think of it when I’m working with a client – what is the smartest/most efficient way to accomplish the task at hand? For example, often when sorting through a space that has items that really should be elsewhere in the home, the client wants to bring them immediately to that place. This is a waste of energy and time because we get distracted arranging multiple spaces at the same time. As a professional organizer, we need to be good time managers and keep the client on task during a project. I recommend lining groups of items for other rooms/donation/etc. just outside of the space you’re working on, and then at the end bringing the other items to their designated location. Not only does this process save energy, it keeps us focused on the task at hand.

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