When my husband and I bought our first house, it was with the intention of having a home office. I wanted the flexibility. I would still have the physical office, but being able to work from home was key in creating the work/life balance and flexibility that I desired. I wasn't nervous. Knowing that many had gone before me in having a successful home office, I felt confident as I started attacking the boxes. I had no idea what I was in for. After several hours of organizing and sifting through papers, I realized all I had really done in that time was create new piles out of old ones. I left for the day, figuring a fresh set of eyes would make the difference, but the next day was the same. I wasn’t making progress. I finally had to admit to myself that I’m just not as organized as I would like to think I am.
Some time ago, I probably would have just kept working at organizing and gotten no where. The internet is full of lists and great resources – “21 Ideas for Organizing Your Home Office” or “10 Ways to Organize Your Home Office.” I would have picked eight directions at once and gotten frustrated and walked away from each of the new approaches I discovered. But I have learned too much, and I know when I need help. The stakes were too high for me, because this wasn’t just about the office, it was about the next step in my career and spending time with people and causes that are important to me.
Thankfully, my friend Terri works at Top Drawer Organizing. She is a professional organizer and frankly a God send. I emailed my plea for help. In our initial exchange, I wrote, “I’m a little worried to be showing off my mess, but I need help more than I need to hide.” Isn’t that the truth. As Terri quickly assured me, “That’s what EVERYONE says!” She’s right. We all need help but want to hide. I had reached a point where I just couldn’t get out of my rut I could successfully push paper around, but I wasn’t getting closer to an organized office. I couldn’t see what my next steps were.
Terri walked into the situation and immediately started walking me towards my end goal. A trained professional is best when asked to put together a mess. Within our three hour appointment, Terri had pinpointed the strategies that I specifically needed to solve my problems. Her solutions were going to work best for me because they were based on my work flow and personality all in the context of the space I had to work with. There was immediate progress and I was given a short list of what I needed to do. They were small, bite size items that I would enjoy doing (find this organizing tool in a color or design that makes you happy.)
I didn’t even know where to start, but Terri knew enough about organizing to know that there isn’t one right way, or a set of 10 ideas that will work for every home office. Terri wasn’t turning my office into her office, she was helping me build something that would work, just for me. Now, we are working together in organizing my home office. I have my “to-do” list and Terri has hers. I don’t know how to design a custom closet specifically for the masses of paper and the specific workflows that I have, but Terri does. And she’s good at it. I know that anything she does is going to be better than whatever I would put together and give me a greater chance of success. She ended up putting together an office that I am confident will work well for me into the future. And I know that at any point I begin to struggle or have problems, I can call Terri and she will be able to come in and pick up where we just left off.
Organization is not my strong-suit. It is difficult to admit when I can’t do something that sounds like it should be so easy, but these are the facts. We can’t be good at everything. This is why I am a financial planner. Finances are difficult, and the stakes are enormous. Maintaining your standard of living, sending your children or grandchildren to college, the confidence in knowing that you have a financial plan in place – these are high stakes. Many people don’t know where to start.
The internet has amassed more knowledge on personal finance than anyone could ever absorb and it continues to grow. However, just because there is a plentiful amount of knowledge available doesn’t mean that it is easy to apply it to your situation. What works for one may not work for the next. Working with a professional should provide a deep sense of clarity on what you need for your situation. Terri provided that clarity to me for my home office, and that’s what I strive to do with my clients on a daily basis in finance.
When the stakes are so high, and the rewards so big, it has to be okay to show your mess. Rarely is a person’s finance in top notch shape when they come to work with a financial planner – and that’s normal. If your finances were in order and you had confidence in your strategy, you may not need a financial planner. Working with a financial planner should help take you out of your rut and get you on track for your goals. One of the biggest benefits of working with a planner is the change of perspective that they can offer you. They will help you get a sense of confidence as you start to make progress towards your goals.