The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast: Episode 13
Rhonda: Welcome to the Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast from rhondapeterson.com. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader coach, along with my co-host Andee Marks.
Today our guest is Liana George. Liana George is a professional organizer and the owner of By George Organizing Solutions. She works one-on-one with clients to help them bring order, peace, and balance to their homes and lives. Liana is also a writer, teacher, and speaker on a variety of organizing topics. She has been married to her husband Clint for almost 25 years and together they have two wonderful daughters, Kayley and Abbey. When Liana isn’t organizing something, you can find her reading a book, watching or playing tennis, or planning her next diving adventure. Welcome Liana.
Liana: Hi Rhonda. Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Rhonda: It is a delight to have you here with us because I know I need to learn a lot about what you do. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us as we get started this morning?
Liana: I just want to encourage everybody’s who listening who may think “Oh it’s organizing, I don’t want to have anything to do with that because I’m not an organized person,” to be encouraged. Everybody can be organized. It’s not going to look the same for everybody, but if you do it your way, it can be a great benefit for your life.
Rhonda: That’s good to know and it gives me hope as you share with us about not only organizing, but your journey to get there. Tell us a little bit about your journey.
Liana: A lot of people will tell you they’ve been organized for life and I’m one of those people. I wish I had some great story that says I was a messy from the beginning and I found this way of living. I have, I have always loved organizing and always been passionate about it. I always had to have everything in order before I could function. I realized late in life, when I figured out what I want to do when I grow up, that maybe I could use that skill to be of help to others. That’s how I got started when my oldest was going off to college. I thought now’s the time. Now’s the time for me to go out and see what I could do. I wanted to help others and use my skills that I was passionate about.
Rhonda: That’s wonderful. What kinds of things have you seen in the organizing process with others? What kinds of changes have you seen happen?
Liana: I’ve seen it all, let me say that first. There isn’t much I haven’t seen.
Rhonda: I bet you have, but you’ve not seen my office yet.
Liana: I’ve seen it all. You know, the beautiful thing I have seen that I love absolutely, is the smile on people’s faces when we’re done bringing order to a space. I love listening to people say, “Oh, I’ve been looking for that. Oh, I’ve been wanting to see that!” that they haven’t seen in years because it’s been buried behind so much stuff. Or just the relief that they feel because they have a lighter load because we’ve managed to get rid of some stuff that really was just weighing them down and burdening them.
Rhonda: I can imagine that that’s probably the case. The part about finding something that they’ve not seen for a while, yea, been there done that. Actually was really funny is I used to work with somebody whose office was as bad as mine has now become. He used to give me the things and say, “Here Rhonda, hold on to this so that we don’t lose it.” I’m looking at him and going, “Really, seriously? You want me to do that?” I’m not really sure what that has to do with your organizing business.
Liana: But it’s true. That’s what people are really wanting. They want, I think deep down, they want to enjoy the things that they have and they can’t, because it gets buried behind the nonessentials and the things that really don’t matter. So I love hearing stories of people telling me, “Thank you for giving back my space. Thank you for giving back things I enjoy, and for a new outlook on life.”
Rhonda: That makes sense, it does.
Andee: Does that mean that as you begin working with someone, you have a process for helping them identify what’s important to them?
Liana: Usually, I ask them, “What’s your vision? What’s your goal for this process?” That’s what I always want them to keep in the forefront of their mind. For different people, it may look differently. Some people might say, “I want to enjoy the space. I want to enjoy my things again.” Some people say, “I just want to be able to function better.” It really kind of depends on their individual purpose and need. In the process, we find it comes to be about that.
Rhonda: That is really interesting. So it depends on the individual, how you help them organize the space. That was one thing that as I looked at your notes that you sent, I was fascinated by the one, actually a couple of the books you suggested. You suggested a book called Organizing for Your Brain Type. Because of the fact that I’m kind of about your style, your personality style and your strengths, that kind of sounds like it’s leaning in that direction. Am I correct in that?
Liana: Yes, that’s exactly right. If you read the book by Lanna Nakone, that’s what it’s talking about. We have these four hemispheres in our brain that we function best out of. She has identified those, and they really do go along with like your personality. You’re probably going to have some that are going to be very similar, and some you don’t operate out of at all. When we operate out of our strengths, that’s when we do our best work. We need to quit fighting. If you’re maybe a personality that’s more creative, more innovative, then you don’t need to be organized, so detailed and meticulous, and strict. When you push somebody into that box, it becomes very frustrating for them. Why do that because that’s not how they’re functioning and that’s not how their personality works. They’re not going to keep it up that way either, so that’s what she really encourages in this book. To figure out which is your personality or your brain type and then work from that hemisphere or that mode.
Rhonda: It sounds to me like I need to go get that book, Organizing for Your Brain Type, don’t I?
Rhonda: Would you tell us a little bit about those different brain types, because I think that would really help our listeners to be able to maybe start understanding where they fit. Once they hear that, they might be interested in looking at more, finding out more about what you do to help them in their brain type or just even knowing, “Oh, that’s why I do it like I do,” or “That’s why I’m so frustrated by this.” Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Liana: Sure. She wrote a great book. Unfortunately, she’s not doing organizing anymore, but her book has gone on to help thousands of people and so it’s a book I always highly recommend to people. She even wrote one for kids, so I think it’s great. She basically, like I said earlier, she has these four hemispheres divided up in our brains. She calls them the maintainer, the harmonizer, the prioritizer, and the innovator. Each one of us, although we may have an overlap of some of these, we have a primary one that we operate out of.
Let’s take the maintainer to start with. The maintainer is somebody who is very orderly already, they tend to like structure, they like detail. They are the kind of people who are always making lists and writing things on that list after they’ve done them so they can cross them back off because they like it so much. They are very scheduled. They are very predictable and so they operate and they’re usually not people I work with because they already have an organizing vent or just kind of that natural ability to organize. That’s one kind.
Then you have the harmonizer. These are very sociable people, they are very pleasant, friendly, cooperative. They like to have their space covered with things that remind them of people and the things they care about most. They’re the ones who like to have all the pictures of family around them, they like to have all their collectibles. They like to have all those kind of things. Even though they want to have that out, we just have to find a way to make it organized for them. If we go into their office space or their home space and then we try to clear out, “Oh that’s all clutter,” they’re not going to be happy in that space. They’re not going to enjoy it, so we need to keep those things in mind when we’re working with them.
Then we’ve got the innovators. Those are the more creative, spontaneous types. They don’t like structure. They don’t like rules, so telling them you need to organize like this, doesn’t work for them. They’re more free spirits, so we really need to keep things open, we need to keep things out. Maybe some hooks, some clear containers without lids. They don’t need a whole bunch of labels from the label maker on their file folders. They just don’t need that kind of stuff. They’re just a little… they need to just slap it in their and go, but they know where it’s at.
Then you’ve got the prioritizer. Although they’re very good with time management, they still are more like the maintainer. They kind of have that orderly structure to them, but their strength is really in time management. They’re going to know what the priorities are. They’re very goal driven. They’re very results driven, so they tend to always want to do well, so they’re going to make their space and their environment help them to get to that point.
Rhonda: As I’m coaching a leader, I look at their style and their strengths so that they are in the space that is in the masterpiece identity God created in them and they’re doing the work that God created them to do. What I’m hearing is the way we organize follows that same pattern. Can you talk a little bit about that? The spiritual aspect to the organization process, because I’ll be honest with you, I never really thought of being organized as a spiritual thing.
Liana: And it’s true. A lot of people don’t. You never go to church on a Sunday morning and the pastor is going to be talking about it.
Rhonda: Probably not.
Liana: It’s not, you know. It was interesting for me because when I first started working with my clients, it was interesting that most of them were all people of faith and I was like, why is there a connection here? Why is God constantly placing these people in my life that are faith-based? I thought, I wonder if there is some kind of connection? I wonder if there is something missing we’re not seeing? I really started thinking about it and looking at scripture. I realized God is a God of order. From the very first scriptures, he created this world in an orderly manner. Everything he does and the way he operates is in an orderly characteristic. I just thought there’s something about that that I think we are built with an innate need for order, and I think that’s just because we are created by our creator, who is orderly.
There have just been gems and pieces that I’ve been pulling out of scripture that I think doesn’t say, thou shalt be orderly, but the examples and things he says. In Ecclesiastes he said, “There’s a time for gathering and a time for letting go.” A lot of people just like the gathering part, but they forget about the letting go part, but that’s part of or orderly living. In Exodus 16, it’s full of great lessons for us about having more than enough and trusting God to take care of our needs. That’s part of orderly living, so it’s not like I said, it’s not a dictate or a commandment in the Bible, but it’s something if we just mine it and really think about it, it can be a great resource and a great guide for us.
Rhonda: And being organized can also clear the way if we understand that God is a God of order, that being organized can clear the way to be able to see more clearly where God is calling you, what that God of abundance means and what abundance means in your life because the stuff is out of the way. I love that about gathering and letting go. That is just… never ever thought that that way before, so wow. That was a big ah-ha for me from that standpoint.
Liana: I also like to think about it this way too, is you know when we’re so bogged down with stuff and we’re so overwhelmed by chaos and disorder in our life, we really can’t do what God calls us to do. It gets in the way. I think how much more effective could we be for the kingdom of God if we just… not that we have to have minimalist stuff in our lives, but how if we could just get it organized and orderly to where it doesn’t affect us and distract us from what we’re called to do.
Rhonda: That’s a really good point. Tell us a little bit about the journey you’ve been on starting your business and how it’s evolved over time. How did you start out? What were you doing then? Where does God seem to be calling you next in the journey?
Liana: Well, when I decided to start this business, I had been a stay-at-home mom for 18 years. I taught school for the first few years and then we had our first daughter, and I stayed home and never went back. I did other little things, but mainly just stay-at-home mom.
Rhonda: That’s enough of a job, just for the record.
Liana: It is a job, right? Exactly, I was getting hands on experience on home organization. When I first started out my business, I started out working with clients one-on-one. I would go into people’s homes and I would work with them in whatever spaces they want, whether it’s a garage, a kitchen, your closet, your home office. I did that for about two years, and I still do that. But I realized probably back in August or September of last year that wasn’t really the best use of my skills. I didn’t really think that… although it was a skillset I knew was valuable and helpful to people, it didn’t feel like it was the best way God had created me to help others.
I said to a friend, who’s also a business coach, I said, “I think that writing, teaching, and speaking on organizing is really where my heart is.” That’s where I get excited. That’s where I want to sit and spend most of my time. I really started trying to focus more on that aspect of my business, so I started blogging more. I got real intentional, probably in about October of last year, of being really intentional about writing, just posting, looking for articles and things like that. It’s funny, once I actually said that and kind of started that intention, of course things started falling into place and speaking opportunities came up. By January, I had several speaking engagements lined up and requests.
The teaching, like I said I’ve always been a teacher, so that’s just always been something natural for me. I created my own online class for people. Starting to get to that point, I still work with clients one-on-one because I love listening to the stories of their stuff, listening to what they do and who they are. It’s so interesting. I met a guy, he was on Broadway. I met a family member of a famous football player. I just meet so many neat people. I still like doing that, but I really feel like the shift is more for that. The one thing I really feel like God is calling me to do is do something with the spiritual aspect of organizing, so I’m in the process of trying to get all those pieces together too.
Rhonda: Well that’s really fascinating and I would love to hear about it when you get all those pieces into one place and figure out what that looks like. That is really interesting and we’ll have to circle back at that point in time. It doesn’t sound like you really a whole lot of fear. You were feeling pretty confident from the way you talk about it now.
Liana: You know I guess I do. The scary thing is running a business. I had never done that before.
Liana: That’s a scary thing and something I still struggle with, trying to figure out how best to run a business, how to run it effectively to be able to reach people. That’s always a challenge. In terms of skill sets, I don’t have that much fear. Now I do get fear about being on podcast or interview, afraid I’m going to put my foot in my mouth.
Rhonda: That’s really interesting that you say that, because clearly you’re feeling the fear and doing it anyway because you’re here on the podcast with us. You said that you really don’t have fear around your organizing. Well, you’ve been organizing for 18 years clearly. It sounds like your somebody who tends to be wired for orderly living, so that’s more of second nature to you but the things that you’ve not become comfortable with, where you’re stepping out and doing something new, those are the parts where the fear or the not knowing. Maybe it’s not fear so much, it’s the not knowing is bigger for you. It’s interesting, I hope those who are listening to our podcast are hearing the fact that not knowing doesn’t mean stop. Not knowing means try and then figure out what’s next.
Liana: Exactly. There were many opportunities when I, even though I was a stay-at-home mom, I had opportunities, but I let fear hold me back. I got to a point in my life where I was tired of this. I’m tired of it and I want something different. It thought later on, at the end of my life, I don’t want to look back with so much regret. I know I’m going to have regret anyway because we’re not perfect in life.
Rhonda: We all do.
Liana: I thought if there were things that I could change and make different and not regret later on, why not go ahead and do that now. That’s some of the things that I’ve learned along the way.
Rhonda: That is a really great insight. Do you have like an interview process that you do when you start out? Obviously, you can’t just go in and go, “Okay, now today we’re going to put this here and this here and this here.” What does that look like?
Liana: First I go in and I usually do a consult with them. That’s just to meet with them, to get to know them, to ask those questions, and to see what their space looks like, and talk to them about how has it’s gotten to this point. Why has it gotten to this point? Then that’s how we work. As I’m working with them more hands on, I start seeing more things that trigger, to me, hey, this person is this kind of style. It took me years to figure out my own children’s organization styles and they lived with me underfoot for years, but they each have their own. Then it was like, ah yes! They have their own and making that work for them.
Rhonda: Say more about that. I mentioned to you earlier before we started the podcast about the grandchildren, so I have mommies in my family who have little ones that are underfoot and I just had three of them at my house for the weekend and believe me, the chaos factor was absolutely overwhelming. Was there a floor? It was questionable. How do you figure out your child’s organizing style so that you can help them stay organized in a way that works for them?
Liana: It took me a long time, it really did. You would think being an organized person, I always wanted them to do it like mommy did it. This is how we… I want it in this box and when it wasn’t I would get frustrated and why can’t I have an organized child? It doesn’t make sense. Then I realized, after observing them, watching their natural tendencies, I noticed that my older daughter loved every one of her subjects in separate binders. She likes all of her clothes color coordinated in a certain fashion. Her time management skills are unbelievable. I realized, “Oh, that’s her organizing style.”
But my youngest, who is more of an innovator, more creative, she likes everything out and she needs to be able to see everything. Well that of course that drove me crazy because I don’t like stuff out. Then I realized, well what if I put things in clear containers for her? What if I got her a shelf with a clear top so that when she would put everything underneath, she could see all of her makeup? I’ve never had all of her makeup so organized and it’s unbelievable. The same way with her jewelry, it’s all out. She can see it, but she needs to be able to see it, but she keeps it organized.
If you walk in there, she knows exactly where the bracelets are, exactly where the mascara is. It’s not the way I would do it, but it’s her way of organizing. When it came to school stuff, she wasn’t going to have a binder where you had to punch the holes and open the binds or open the clips and then close it back up. She needed just pockets where she could just throw things in and be able to do it that way. She had her own style and her clothes are the same way. I’ve been able to organize things like pants in one section, dresses in another, shirts in another or sweaters in another. That works for her.
Andee: Liana, one thing that struck me as you were talking about your daughters was just what a wonderful way to validate their unique identities by figuring out ways for them to be organized that is compatible and in alignment with their unique personalities. I just think that’s such a wonderful way of validating their value and their worth as a unique individual, a unique creation of God.
Liana: Thank you, and I wish… it took me a long time and there were a lot of fights and a lot of battles and I’m like, ahhhhhhha!
Andee: I wish I would’ve thought about that when my kids were younger instead of harassing them about, “Get your stuff up off the floor!”
Rhonda: Liana, most of the people who listen to the Bold & Courageous Leader podcast are leaders, hence the name Bold & Courgeous Leader podcast. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for leaders on how they can best be organized in their role as a leader.
Liana: That’s a great question because I have seen and worked with a lot of business owners, entrepreneurs, and seeing the struggles they have. I’ve identified four key things that if they could really focus in on these things, that would really help bring some order to their workspace and to their work lives. The first is their to-do list. In this day in age, we love to say we’re crazy busy. The problem is we’re making to-do lists we just can’t get done and we feel like we’re falling further and further behind. Try to prioritize those to-do lists. Try to maybe only put three to five things a day on there to really get the best work done. If you get those three to five done, then you feel free to add more. If you really focus and prioritize on the most important things, because when get so caught up in unimportant that when we turn around at the end of the day and say, “What did I get done?” it doesn’t feel like we accomplished what we wanted to. Really try to do that.
The second thing I always encourage people to do is to delegate. It is so important. It’s huge, it’s huge. God showed us delegation from the beginning when he gave Adam the job of naming all the animals. He wanted him to delegate…
Rhonda: Good point.
Liana: He was saying from the beginning delegation is important and we see that again in Acts, it’s just over and over again the importance of delegation. We have this fear of delegation, that people aren’t going to do it right, we’re going to have to go redo it, or if I have to spend two hours showing somebody how to do it, I might as well just do it myself. Get a clear perspective on delegation and implement it. The other thing I tell people is to not just tell people what you want done but show them, because a lot of times people get that wrong. We say I want you to do this, this, and this and when they come back it’s not what we wanted or expected. We get frustrated and we stop delegating. It’s simply because we didn’t take the time to tell people how we wanted it done. I always encourage people, if you want to have more orderly business, be a better leader, then grasp and embrace delegation.
The third thing I always tell people about importance, is having an organized workspace. I know, it gives people like, “Oh, seriously.” Your desk needs to be limited to what’s on it, just be essentials. It’s really important to have an office space that functions well, functions in an orderly manner. Again, it doesn’t have to look like everybody else’s, what works best for you. It’s hard to work, it’s hard to think, it’s hard to be creative in a space that’s just cluttered and chaotic.
Rhonda: I will agree with that.
Liana: I always tell people, work on your workspace. The last thing is, have an organized home. A lot of people will tell me, “I have this incredibly organized workspace but my home is a mess.” That’s great but I always tell people that if you want to be even better at what you do, then have the house organized as well. If you think about it, if your closet is a mess and you’re trying to get ready in the morning and you’re trying to get out the door, if you’re busy looking for a shirt to match a certain pair of pants or you can’t find the shoes you’re looking for, you’re going to get frustrated. You’re going to get flustered and that’s not any way to start a productive day. Again, if you can’t find your keys, then you’re running around looking for your bag or your purse or your briefcase, it gets very frustrating. It makes you late and again you start your day frustrated, disgruntled, flustered and that’s not going to add to your productivity and your success. Having that home organization is key as well to office organization, to being the best business owner and leader you can be.
Rhonda: That’s a really good point. You don’t even have to be a business owner. Even if you’re going… seriously, if you’re going to be a leader in any area, you were, for 18 years were a leader of the family from a standpoint of keeping things running and keeping your girls going where they needed to go and when they needed to get there. That is leadership in and of itself.
Rhonda: I really like the idea of those four points for leaders. No matter where you’re leading… I had a meeting at church last night at eight o’clock that I needed to be ready for. I needed to go out the door so I could be there at eight o’clock, because if I didn’t get there by eight o’clock I was going to be there until 11 o’clock, which didn’t sound like a fun time. Being organized in whatever way is the best for your style is really important. We’ve talked a little bit about the organizing for your brain type book, are there any other books you would like to share with us as resources around this that would help our listener?
Liana: Julie Morgenstern, anything she writes is just like Bible gold to organizers. Her book Organizing From the Inside Out, is a great, great resource. In it, she outlines a method that I use, that I know a lot of other people use to help you get started in organizing a space. You can use it and apply it to any space and she uses the acronym S.P.A.C.E to help you remember. It’s Sort, so first you start sorting everything. Then you Purge, then you Access and assign a home. Then you Containerize and then she has E as Equalize, which is basically just maintaining balance. It works great whether it’s a junk drawer or a huge closet.
Rhonda: There’s also a book that you mentioned to me earlier called Organizing For the Right Side of the Brain, and that sounds really interesting to me.
Liana: That’s more for your creatives, for your… I’m not right-side, I’m not. I’m very left brain.
Rhonda: No, not with your organizing capabilities, I would be surprised by that.
Liana: It’s very important to, it’s hard for those types of creators and innovators and social people and the likes to have structured spaces. I think it kind of helps people understand and go, “Oh thank you. Somebody that can understand, somebody that relates.” I believe the author was the same way and so he finally wrote a book that could relate to them and understand what their struggles were and give them advice and tips on how to handle it.
Rhonda: Liana, as we close today, please tell us where people can find more information about you and your business and what you might offer for them.
Liana: Thank you. My website is bygeorgeorganizing.com and on there you can find information on my services, as well as my classes and challenges that I offer, and my blog that I write on weekly. The blog is always some tips and ideas and encouragement. It’s not always just about the “how”, but about the “why” of organizing as well. Right now I’m offering a 180 challenge. It is a decluttering challenge that lasts for 40 weeks. Each week I send you an email with a focus area to work on and to focus your decluttering. A lot of time people get so overwhelmed they don’t know where to start, and so I’m taking out that overwhelm, I’m taking out that fear, and that doubt and saying we’re just going to focus on this one little space. Today it might be just your books. Next week it’s going to be your kitchen pantry, and we just work through that. I help you declutter because that’s the majority of the problem most people have, is just getting rid of stuff. That challenge helps people kind of focus and get out the unwanted, unnecessary, and the useful in their lives.
Rhonda: Great. Thank you so much Liana for spending time with us today. We’ve learned a lot and I know that our listeners have enjoyed hearing more about the fact that organizing is something that can bring great benefit to your life. We look forward to hearing more from you when you come back and talk to us about the spiritual side of decluttering.
Liana: Thanks. I look forward to it too.
To find out more about today’s topic, get downloads of our previous podcasts or to learn how you too can become a Bold & Courageous leader, visit rhondapeterson.com. Our ever-growing community is waiting for you. If you liked today’s show, there are three things you can do. You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher. You can give us a rating or a review on iTunes. The subscriptions and ratings help others to find us more easily. And you can help us get the word out by sharing the podcast with your friends. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you for the next Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast.