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Organizing the Things in your Life

Mastering Backsliding: How a Professional Organizer Can Help You Stay on Track

By July 7, 2024July 14th, 202412 Comments
stacks of papers and files on a desk in an office

Backsliding is a problem which I reviewed in a recent post. I talked about some strategies to use to help navigate this frustrating issue. Unfortunately, there are times when a person is so overwhelmed by backsliding that they have a difficult time identifying their options. They may not be able to objectively evaluate where to start or what strategies to use. This is when a professional organizer can help.

The Role of a Professional Organizer

I want to first acknowledge that it takes courage to reach out to a professional organizer when you are overwhelmed. There is often a feeling of shame and embarrassment when backsliding occurs. Clients have told me they are ashamed and embarrassed because they believe they should be able to organize the space without help. They don’t like that whatever they’ve been working on has become so messy and disorganized. The fact remains that they’re frustrated and overwhelmed by the way the space looks and functions.

A trained professional organizer is there to help.

They are not there to assign blame, criticize, or scold.

Yes. They will see the disorganization and the mess. And, yes, the thought of letting someone else see this may give you the shivers or cause you to think twice about opening your door to a veritable stranger.

Think about it this way.

When you’re sick or injured you reach out to a trained professional (a doctor or therapist) for help.

So why not reach out to a professional organizer when you’re feeling frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed by the disorganization in your home.

Tailored Solutions: Personalized Organizational Strategies

If you are backsliding, you have probably tried all sorts of organizing solutions. There are many organizing books out there which are full of advice to try. The problem is the author doesn’t know you. They haven’t spent the time talking to you, asking how you want to store your belongings, or finding out about your organizing preferences. When you try to fit yourself into a generic organizing strategy it may not work.

A professional organizer can help you by creating personalized organizing strategies.

You will still need to mindfully practice it and the strategies may need to be tweaked from time to time because your circumstances or preferences may change.

Practical Tips for Daily Maintenance and Routine

Since backsliding is a problem, talk to the professional organizer about the things you want to change.

Let them help you create a daily maintenance routine to keep backsliding at bay. The professional organizer can help you think through the steps to streamline your routine and make it easier to follow.

This, in turn, makes it less likely that backsliding will be a problem.

The Benefits of Regular Check-ins and Accountability

One of the best ways a professional organizer can help you master backsliding is to be your accountability partner.

Since the organizer is aware of the backsliding problem, they can check-in with you on a regular basis to find out how the strategies are working. By sharing your wins with your professional organizer, you receive encouragement and motivation to keep up the good work.

You can also talk through roadblocks and identify ways in which you sabotage your progress through procrastination.

Finding the Right Professional Organizer for Your Needs

Since mastering backsliding is the goal here, you will want to find a qualified and trained professional organizer. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Specialists (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) have directories which list the qualifications, specializations, and areas of expertise of professional organizers on their list-serve.

Find an organizer in your area or one with the training you seek and then call them. If the organizer offers virtual sessions the geographical location will not matter. 

See if you like the way the conversation goes and then try an appointment. You won’t know if they are the right organizer for you unless you schedule a consultation or a working session.


It is possible to master backsliding or at least get it under control when you use the right tools. Sometimes having the right tool means having a professional organizer you know, like, and trust in your back pocket.

A professional organizer who can help you because they have spent time with you (either in-person and/or virtually) and who has a good understanding of the way you want things to work.

If you are struggling with backsliding and want to talk about the ways in which I can help, please feel free to send me an email to schedule a phone consultation. You can email me at:

Diane N. Quintana is the owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC. She is an ADHD Organizing Specialist, a Hoarding Specialist, and a Chronic Disorganization Specialist. Diane is also an ICD Master Trainer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Certified Professional Organizer and co-owner of Release Repurpose Reorganize LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing.


  • Julie Stobbe says:

    I like that you said a client may not be able to fit into a specific box or style of organizing. With the many programs and books available clients may feel the pressure to follow a specific program and if they can’t feel sad or stressed or a failure. Working one on one with a Professional Organizer is the best way for clients to gain skills and knowledge that work well for them. If you’re in Canada Professional Organizers in Canada has a directory of organizers that can help you too.

  • I think your point about books being full of general advice and not providing a solution tailored to YOU applies to ALL books (and tips, articles, videos, TikToks, etc.) on ALL topics of the self-help and DIY nature. Just because a solution works for the author, or for many of their readers, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for YOU. And that’s why I appreciate (and try to write) books that make the reader think about how the principles might apply to them, and offer alternatives, including asking a professional for help!

  • Julie Bestry says:

    You always approach topics with warmth and validation! We all backslide, even professional organizers. As Lizzo would say, “That’s the human in you.” But yes, we professional organizers can offer the expertise and accountability to make it easier to NOT backslide, to make doing what you avoid not only more appealing but the system more functional. Rather than judging, I think we often take on a sense of the responsibility ourselves; we look forward to helping our clients achieve those goals!

    You’re spot-on when you talk about tailored solutions and practical tips; this what we professional organizers do, day-in and day-out, so we’ve got a wealth of experience coming from all different perspectives. (Tangentially relevant: one one of the social media platforms yesterday, a woman asked her husband to help fasten her bra, as she was having some trouble with her shoulder. He helped, but asked why she didn’t fasten it in front and then slide it around to the back. The woman was shocked and asked if “anyone” had ever heard of such a thing and more than half the women replied to say that’s how they did it. Most of the other half were as shocked as the original poster.) As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, and an expert can bring that depth and breadth of experience to make it all so much easier.

    As for accountability, I consider that the secret sauce of the whole professional organizer experience! Whether it’s body doubling or just knowing someone has your back, it is such a motivator!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Love the story, Julie! You’re absolutely right – accountability and knowing that someone understands you and is there for you is a tremendous motivating factor.

  • I love that you talked about tailored solutions. That is where a professional organizer shines! We’ve worked with all types of people and educated ourselves on different systems and options, so can offer lots of options. Like you, we also talk throughout appointments with clients on ways to maintain the work we’ve done. It can be life-changing!

  • I love your follow-up to the post you wrote about backsliding. You made excellent points and validated feelings clients might have when they experience backsliding. And in turn, why they often feel embarrassed or ashamed reaching out for help. But as you so beautifully articulated, professional organizers are there to help and not to blame, shame, or harm.

    I also appreciate your point about receiving customized help. As you said, there are many excellent organizational books available. However, the authors don’t know your unique situation’s intricacies. Their strategies might be great, but not necessarily for you. And especially when you feel overwhelmed and in that dark place, working with someone who understands you and can focus on precisely what you need is beneficial.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Linda. I’ve written one of those organizing self-help books and recognize that while the advice in my book is solid it simply won’t apply to everyone. Talking through your unique situation and preferences gets the best results.

  • Seana+Turner says:

    I’m so glad you are pointing out that we are not there to judge. The analogy of seeking a doctor or therapist when sick is a good one. We don’t bring judgments, just relief! I think there is a sense of shame with disorganization that we don’t assign to other challenging situations. That’s too bad. Plus, ignoring or hiding a problem only makes it worse. Taking a step toward change really does make you feel better, and if that step is calling a professional, you will feel better quickly!

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