Meet St Albans' Queen of Decluttering
PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 September 2016 | UPDATED: 09:40 07 September 2016
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Lifestyle management guru Tracy Ross helps busy local families keep their clutter under control. She tells us how she does it
Frantically hunting for lost car keys, or rifling through the recycling in search of that one piece of vital paperwork is a way of life for many of us.
Tracy Ross is here to say that it needn’t be this way. She started her Lifestyle Management business, Blissfully Organised, in 2011 after an 18 year career in marketing, and now makes a living out of helping others get their lives in order.
Whether you’re looking for someone to help clear a lifetime of clutter from the loft, or make your household admin more orderly, 49-year-old Tracy – who lives in Bernards Heath with her husband and sons, aged 12 and nine – is your woman.
How would you describe Blissfully Organised?
It’s a Lifestyle Management service, aimed at helping busy people to reorganise their homes or workspaces. I work with clients to eliminate chaos and restore order into their lives. I also support them to build better habits, create effective routines and improve time management. I offer a confidential service and respect each client’s privacy. I will listen to the way they live and tailor my recommendations to their specific requirements.
Are you naturally very organised?
Yes, and I like to fit a lot into my time. Being a working mum, there are a lot of demands on your time to organise the family, the kids’ homework, to stay healthy and respond to any other unexpected surprises. Being organised really saves time. Little things like making sure you have enough milk for tomorrow’s breakfast and filling the car with petrol so that you can head off promptly to your next client meeting can make your day run in a less chaotic way. I believe in doing things as soon as possible. So I will deal with any letters from school at home time and write up client notes as soon as I have finished a home organisation session.
When did you decide to make a career out of being organised?
Working in marketing for ESPN and ITV, I had to be super organised and have real strategic vision. I knew that I wanted a change and I have always wanted to work for myself but couldn’t decide if I should just become a freelance Marketing Consultant or set up a completely new business. Friends often ask my advice on organising holidays and time management so I started to think that offering a Lifestyle Management service would be of value to busy working people. After helping my first few clients I had no doubt in my mind that I’d made the right decision.
What kinds of requests do you receive the most of?
I offer a range of services including event planning, household management and holiday planning, but home organisation and decluttering is by far my most popular service. Toy management is a big request! I love every step from first speaking to a client on the phone or getting an email request to meeting them at their home and offering real practical assistance to make the changes that they want to achieve. The majority of my clients come from personal recommendations, which is always lovely.
Talk us through a typical consultation
I try to be as flexible as possible depending on my client’s needs. On the appointment day I arrive with my notebook and black bin bags. I usually ask my client to give me a tour around their home so that I can get a better understanding of their concerns and priority areas. We then get started. I respect that I am stepping into my client’s personal space and its big step for them to make the changes that that would like. I offer a non-judgemental approach and work with my clients to make the changes. They are usually surprised how much we can achieve in a short time and find that they enjoy it more than they thought they would.
What’s a typical working day like?
No day is the same as I am always meeting new people with different requirements. I might be helping a client prepare for a house move in the morning, then helping to reorganise a home office in the afternoon. I can respond to calls and texts on the move which offers a wonderfully mobile way of working. When you do what you love it often doesn’t feel like work.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to do?
That’s a great question. I offer a confidential service and it’s very important for my clients that their privacy is fully respected. I get to know new clients quickly as I am stepping into their personal space. When you have access to someone’s knicker drawer there may be a few surprises but I would never share that information.
Do you charge an hourly rate or per job?
I work in one of two ways. The first service is a home audit where I visit a client’s home and then make a series of recommendations that they can work through on their own or with my support. I charge a one-off, £60 fee for this service. If they then want me to support them to reorganise or declutter their home I recommend that we book a session of four hours. It sounds like a long time but they are always amazed how quickly it passes and how much can be achieved. I charge £20 for sessions of four hours or more and £25 for sessions of less than four hours or weekends. I always say no job is too small as long as it’s ethical and legal.
Do you work full time?
I work flexibly to balance my home and work life. I try to keep everyone happy even if it means a few very late nights for me.
What do people say when you tell them what you do for a living?
People are usually really interested and one of the most frequent comments is, “I really need you to come to my home!”
Top tips for chaos management
Tracy’s advice on how to stop the paperwork from piling up
• Buy a family planner. As your family grows it’s essential to keep track of everything needed for each member. This will help you plan ahead and identify your key pressure points.
• Keep an in-tray for all paperwork that needs to be dealt with, and set aside a little time each week to deal with it. Keep a good supply of envelopes and stamps.
• Set up direct debits for as many things as possible. This will help you manage the family budget and reduce the number of ad hoc things you need to deal with.
• Parents: Deal with all schools letters as soon as they come home and send responses back the next day.
• Set up a simple filing system so you know clearly where to find everything – i.e. insurance, utilities, car, tax, phone, etc.
• Have a special drawer for key documents – passports, birth certificates, cheque books etc
• Buy birthday cards/gift wrap in bulk and set up a present bag. Knowing who you need to buy for each month means you can buy ahead, post gifts earlier using a cheaper postal option and stay on budget.
To find out more about Tracy and the services she provides, visit: www.blissfullyorganised.co.uk