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Organizing Shows: Reality TV is not Reality!

Television2Home organizing shows have really taken off in the last 3-4 years, with several shows on HGTV and TLC like "Mission Organization," "Neat," "Clean Sweep," and others.  These shows have been a mixed blessing for the organizing industry– on the one hand, they have increased visibility to what we do, but they also have set very unrealistic expectations and created some misconceptions.  Here are a few things we wish the public knew about these shows:

  • They have enormous crews of people working on organizing those homes.  Most of the time if you hire an organizer, you are going to get a one-on-one experience and it will take MUCH longer to see progress.
  • We are much kinder in person!  It seems like the organizers on TV are often more confrontational and they are pushing people to part with things before they are ready.
  • We do not haul all of your stuff out on the front lawn in front of your neighbors.
  • We are not decorators.  So often the TV makeovers involve painting a room or buying new furniture, and in general, that is not what organizers do. 
  • The best "before" shots come from the worst-case scenarios.  They often work with Chronically Disorganized people who would, in reality, require some very special handling and even therapy for the complex issues that are involved. (For more information about Chronic Disorganization, visit www.nsgcd.org.)

Remember, what you see on TV has been carefully crafted to make Good Television… they skip steps and make things seem much faster and easier than they really are.  Be kind to yourself about what you can realistically get done on your own!

Filed under: General

4 Comments

Monica Ricci

As an organizer who has done several of these shows, I say “Tell it, sistah!” The TV shows are a great way to let the public know there is help available out there. On the other hand, they do often create unrealistic expectations for our clients.
Just for fun, I’ll tell you how long my episodes took. I logged everything from the first meeting with the homeowner, to the planning sessions beforehand, to making the scale drawings for the space, to sitting for hours on the internet sourcing products, to the actual taping of the episode and then all the “behind-the-scenes” work once the cameras are gone for the day.
The fewest number of hours I logged on any one episode was 85 and the most was about 120. Oh, and that didn’t include driving time, which was always at least thirty minutes one way. Just a little FYI for ya! 🙂
~Monica

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Jessica Duquette

great job of breaking it down, Lorie!
Several years ago, I saw a national news show (this was way before any of the organizing reality shows) about three professional organizers and how they worked.
One was Julie Morganstern, who as usual was compassionate, an excellent listener and a problem-solver who really cared about the family. She was helping them find solutions for their garage clutter.
The second was a cut and dried segment about organizing your freezer, but the third, the one that sticks out in my mind in horror, was this organizer who was helping a woman declutter her closet. As they went through the woman’s clothes, the organizer belittled, judged, criticized and pushed at the woman all through the segment. She was the epitome of what people were afraid of in an organizer: judgement and pressure to throw out what they value.
Although the impression of organizers has improved in the last 5 years, sometimes people still believe we should be miracle workers!
Thanks for doing what you are doing!
warmly,
Jessica from It’s Not About Your Stuff

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John Trosko

TV Shows, particularly news shows (with limited time, or budget) handle their filming with “reverse engineering.”
We organize the entire room first, and then strategically mess it up. When the camera crew arrives you’ve got your “mess” and they can film it. So it appears to take much, much less time. Camera angles can do a lot to make something look worse, too!
– John

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Brenda Johnson

I am wanting to know if there is any shows out there or anyone who can help or give advice on how to organize our house. We need the HELP desperately.

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