Readiness for Change

readiness for change

Readiness for Change.

I recently read The Other Side of Organized by Linda Samuels, CPO-CD. In the book, she states that people change when they are ready. Readiness for change is what prompts people to call a professional organizer.

Linda identifies five phases in the change process.

Phase 1. Initial Rumblings.

When you sense that what you are doing is not working for you. Take time to make these observations and clearly identify what’s bothering you.

In my experience, our clients spend too much time trying to identify what’s not working for them. They try to figure it out without input from anyone else. It’s hard to make changes unless you venture outside of your “box”. You can find ideas and options from books, articles, blog posts, social media, etc.

Phase 2. Identifying Possibilities.

When you start considering your options. Identify one issue at a time and consider the possibilities.

Linda is totally spot on here. Make one change at a time. Practice that new system or routine until you have it down. Then move on to focus on the next thing you’d like to change.

Phase 3. Reaching Out.

People are usually overwhelmed and unsure about how to get started. By reaching out to a professional, you have the greatest chances of success.

I see this all the time. That’s why we love our clients! The faster, most efficient way to make a change that will stick is to work with a professional that can bring their experience and knowledge to the table.

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Phase 4. Beyond Talking.

This is where your determination to change shows up. Linda cautions that you may stay in phase 4 for some time and experience highs and lows during the process.

This is why working with someone else (who is enthusiastic) is a good choice. Those “lows” don’t have to be so low and your support can facilitate the change you are looking for.

Phase 5. Life Jolts.

Negative and positive life changes affect the organizing process. In phase 5 you are able to cope with these changes and get back on track more easily.

We live by the idea that being organized doesn’t mean that everything is perfectly placed. Being organized means that when things get out of hand or a little chaotic, you can easily set things back right.

Linda has identified the 5 phases of change. Keep these in mind when you all working on anything you want to improve in your life.


Do you struggle with getting and staying organized?

Are you afraid to start an organizing project just to be overwhelmed or lose motivation in the middle, to be left with even more chaos? You are not alone. That’s the fear of most people who don’t have time to allot to a big organizing project.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Jonda Beattie on October 25, 2021 at 7:58 am

    Great recap! The first phase is so important. When potential clients reach out to me, I ask them to focus on what they want rather than what is wrong.

    • Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2021 at 6:34 am

      Oh yes, we always work from a positive angle, which clients don’t commonly do. We also make it fun.

  2. Sabrina Quairoli on October 25, 2021 at 10:58 am

    Great reminder! I found that it takes about five years for people to realize they are sick in tired of being the way they are to make a change. When surveying my clients at our initial interview, they usually mention that they have been in their situation for about five years, and these steps would easily unfold over these five years.

    • Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2021 at 6:35 am

      I’ve never tracked how long it takes to realize they want to make a change. I do agree that it takes years, but didn’t think it was 5 years. I’ll have to look/listen closer.

  3. Seana Turner on October 25, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Great advice from this wise woman. Love that phrase about your determination to change “showing up.” We can talk about wanting change for literally years, but at some point, action needs to be taken. I find that often just getting started with a client is what they need most. After a relatively short period of time many start feeling empowered, thinking differently, and making progress on their own.

    I also love how you point out that it isn’t a straight line “up.” We might hang out in Phase 4 for awhile, and there will be good days and bad days. The true victory is when we get to #5, and when we are ABLE to get things back under control when life’s craziness knocks us off our game.

    • Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2021 at 6:37 am

      I am a person who likes change and seeks it out. It took me a while to learn that our clients are usually people who are challenged with making changes. Sometimes the change is small but sometimes the clients are ready and ask for big change.

  4. Linda Samuels on October 25, 2021 at 11:54 am

    What a lovely surprise, that you read and wrote about readiness for change from my book! Thank you so much.

    As often as we call ourselves professional organizers, I often see myself (and I know other organizers do to,) as facilitators of change. Clients appear at varying readiness points, and the trick is knowing where they are and managing the expectations (for ourselves and our clients.) One of the things I listen for when a potential client contacts me is if they are speaking with “change talk.” There are many ways it might sound. But if they aren’t in that mindset, then working with me might be premature. I also recognize that even when clients talk about wanting to make a change, they may not be ready to do all that’s needed to make the change they desire. So we work on strengthening those “change muscles” until they are ready to move forward.

    Like many phased concepts, these are not hard and fast phases. They are quite fluid and can simultaneously encompass different change focuses. A person might be ready to make changes in one area of their life (like getting organized) but not be ready to change in another (like exercising more.) It’s all part of being human. But when we are ready for change, amazing things can happen. And having the right support at this point can make all the difference.

    • Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2021 at 6:41 am

      I love helping and watching clients make those changes and it is always interesting to me how this happens differently for everyone.

  5. Gina Weatherup on October 25, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    I wonder how much professional organizers and people certified in change management for corporations have in common! Looks to me like the processes align – any change is change!

    • Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2021 at 6:43 am

      Yes Gina. I agree. Change is change. A lot of people don’t like it or struggle to do things differently.

  6. Julie Bestry on October 26, 2021 at 2:25 am

    Linda’s book is a classic and still a favorite. I’m so glad you shared these concepts, Janet. One of the things I love about this advice is that not only is it applicable to what WE do with clients for organizing, but it can be extrapolated in many ways — to therapy, to life and career coaching, health coaching, and to so many other aspects of “change management.” I think I’ll have to pull this excellent book down off the shelf and give it yet another read this winter!

  7. Lucy Kelly on October 26, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    “In my experience, our clients spend too much time trying to identify what’s not working for them. They try to figure it out without input from anyone else. It’s hard to make changes unless you venture outside of your “box”.”

    I’ve come to think of this “initial rumblings” time as the most important part of the process. It means that by the time someone does reach out for help, they KNOW they can’t do it by themselves and are more open to hearing other ideas. So for me, I want clients to take as long as it takes them to realize they’re ready for a something different :-).

    • Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2021 at 4:58 pm

      I like your thinking. I agree that clients who call are ready for change and realize that they need help from a professional.

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