Last Friday we had a meeting of the Nova Scotia Chapter of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), our first one since June. We had a number of guests at our meeting who were new to the business or thinking about getting into the business.
Anyway, we got into a long discussion about being qualified, which courses to take, how many designations, if any, one should have and so on. Not an easy question to answer so it turns out. People will often ask me how I got into this business and sometimes I do get the direct question from a fellow business person, “So what makes you qualified to be a Professional Organizer?” Of course, since I received my Certified Professional Organizer® designation I think I have a good answer for that. However, in my mind it’s not as much about the exam and book knowledge as it is about the eight years experience.
Some members of our group were adamant that we should have as many designations as we can and be constantly taking courses and upgrading our skills. Some of our potential members were on the opposite end of the scale where they are not interested in taking any courses, they just want to start organizing. The latter scares me just a little, I must say. Without some foundational priniciples for organizing and an understanding of the unique challenges our clients face I don’t think we can provide the best possible service.
But where is the cut off? How many courses should a person take? Where is the trade off between book learning and actual experience? I can only speak for myself. I have to take 15 hours of continuing education every year to maintain my certification so I’m always on the hunt for the latest discovery around productivity or the newest time management technique to help my clients manage their time more effectively.
In addition, I do love to read a good organizing book now and again. My weakness, however, is looking a pretty organizing products – I admit it, I’m a junkie! We all know how many gorgeous things you can find on the internet – I just love to check out all the pretty products even though half of them I can’t even get in Canada, darn it.
There I go again, off topic. Well kind of off topic. Knowing about the newest and prettiest organizing products is part of the service I provide so in a sense is part of my continuing education and it’s fun too boot!
As a business owner I think there is a happy compromise in there somewhere. We all need to keep on top of what is going on in our industry but we also need to earn a living. I suspect if we narrow our focus and get really good at a few things, educate ourselves on an ongoing basis, and learn by doing, we’ll provide the best service we can to our customers.
I’m not sure that immersing ourselves in studying and attending conferences and putting more letters behind our name is always the best way. Unless, as one of my clients always reminds me, you’re building bridges and then I would be inclined to advise all those engineers out there to take lots of bridge-building courses