In last month’s Quick Question survey, I asked:

What occupation, paid or unpaid, did you hold immediately before becoming an organiser? Include any that you may currently hold.

I also asked professional organisers to list any other occupations they’ve held during their lifetime, paid or unpaid, and how they felt these occupations have affected their work as an organiser?

From organising miniature train rides to Permaculture Garden design, and financial controller to child protection, the career paths that have led organisers to where they are today are varied. In fact, 95 different occupations and roles were listed. It makes for interesting reading.

Louise Dunham from Placement Solutions was a secondary teacher right before she went into organising, and has also been a CEO, waitress, bar maid, and roustabout. And how have those occupations influenced her work in organising. She says, “I am pragmatic, organised, efficient.”

Desley Harris from De-Clutter has been a registered nurse, waitress and cleaner. She said that “My nursing career involved critical thinking, prioritising, coordinating, organising, counselling, negotiating, teaching which play a big part in what I do today.”

Carolynne Binet from Home Sweep Home: Organising & Hoarding Solutions has also been a nurse as well as a homemaker and says that they helped immensely. She said, “My previous skills translate to a caring wholistic approach to my work.”

Karen White from The Sorting Angel was a Kindergarten teacher and a mother and says that gave her the ability to approach all sorts of people and situations in a calm, warm, non-threatening way, and to be aware of all abilities. She’s keen to encourage others to reach their potential. She learned to be flexible and patient, and look for the positives in others. Karen is a quick problem solver and loves to recycle.

Romanie Ashton from Sensibly Organised was a legal secretary/paralegal immediately before becoming a professional organiser. She has also been a Sunday school teacher, administration administrator, database administrator, and done all the administration for a kids club with over 300 kids! She feels these roles have impacted massively, giving her skills that are used in so many ways.

Immediately before becoming an organiser, Shannon Hepperlin, one of the team at Decluttering Diva, was a Permaculture Garden designer and environmental advocate. She’s has also worked as a mother/carer for person with a disability and in corporate strategy and sustainability, and environmental home renovation. Shannon says, “All of these roles relate directly to what I do as an organiser from systems thinking, design, researching best practice, understanding the needs of those with a disability and their carers.”

Karen Young from iTidy Organising says, “I love working as an organiser as every client has different needs, so I get to use my skills and experience from previous positions regularly.” And those previous positions are executive assistant, project manager, HR officer, and office manager.

Lisa Mountney from No Stress – No Mess was in administration right before she became an organiser and was also a travel agent during her lifetime. She recognises, “The need to be organised when doing any paperwork is 100% essential.”

Right before Julie Whiting from The Decluttering Co became an organiser, she was a content creator and copywriter, and has also worked as a graphic designer. She likes being able to do her own content creation, website etc. It’s cheap, fast, and easy to do it in-house.

Right before entering the organising industry, Tracey Warren from Professional Organising Solutions was a university student and had various admin roles. Tracey says, “They helped me to develop good customer service skills and people skills in general. They taught me the benefits of planning and having spaces set up, so they are easy to use.”

Chantal Imbach from Photos In Order has a long list of previous occupations. She was a stay-at-home mum including looking after all financial and admin tasks, organising and overseeing multiple home renovations, being the organiser of multiple school fairs, and volunteering as a committee member for the annual Swiss Festival in Melbourne. People told her she should become an events manager, which was tempting but not realistic due to the working hours these events usually require (evenings/weekends). To add to that list, Chantal was also a secretary, personal assistant, project office manager, and financial controller. She says they have helped “very much, since they all needed organising skills. I was able to hone during my 20 years’ corporate career. I also benefit to this day from my business admin studies and my jobs because I learned about bookkeeping and accounting, marketing and sales, IT and more. Everything needed to build a business.”

Bronte Camilleri from The Essential Home Organiser (email ran a bed and breakfast before she became an organiser. As well as that she’s worked as a photographic stylist for a national magazine, worked in advertising as a location and talent scout and done visual merchandising. These have all contributed to her feeling at ease talking to strangers and going into unfamiliar spaces.

Before becoming an organiser, Leesa Kotis from The Clutter Bug worked within a child protection agency for Western Sydney Area Health. Lisa said, “Prior to child protection I was a media/fundraising co-ordinator for Child Flight, the babies and children emergency helicopter service, sadly no longer in service for our critically ill kids. Prior to that were many years spent working in the media departments of multi-national advertising agencies supporting departments of up to 20 people. I think it has affected my life, and work in every area, whether consciously or unconsciously. Most definitely in the area of mental health.”

Working as manager at The Train Shed, organising miniature train rides and catered birthday parties, as well as roles in childcare, as manager at Australian Hearing Services, selling investment real estate, telemarketing, as waitress, kitchen hand, car detailer, and office manager, has given Sharon Eshman from Chaos To Control, “An understanding of a wide variety of clients, customer service skills, patience, ability to cope in an emergency, decision making.”

Lucy Steen from Serenity Organising was a stay-at-home mum and foster carer. Her other occupations included admin jobs and call centre jobs part-time in between kids, and prior to that was a category manager, trade marketing manager and sales analyst. She says, “I had to categorise and organise products in a supermarket. On a national scale! Business skills have been great to apply to the business too.”

I totally agree, Lucy. It seems that no matter what our previous roles have been, the skills and experience we’ve accumulated over the journey come in mighty handy in our work as organisers, and in running a thriving business.

Thank you to all who contributed to this survey. Look out for the next Quick Question survey and more survey results to come.

And if you’re an aspiring organiser who wants to switch your occupation to helping people get organised, check out my training here.

POs' Previous Occupations


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