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Jane Stoller: “Organizing is a lifestyle”

Organizing is a lifestyle, but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Incorporating organizing into your life shouldn’t, ultimately, involve changing who you are, but rather maximizing it. Knowing where your favourite socks are, and having them stored correctly, means you’ll be able to wear your favourite socks more often, and look better doing it. Similarly, packing properly for […]

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Organizing is a lifestyle, but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Incorporating organizing into your life shouldn’t, ultimately, involve changing who you are, but rather maximizing it. Knowing where your favourite socks are, and having them stored correctly, means you’ll be able to wear your favourite socks more often, and look better doing it. Similarly, packing properly for a once-in-a-lifetime trip means you’ll be able to enjoy that trip even more. Remember: being organized doesn’t mean thinking about organizing all the time. Ideally, being organized means that you don’t have to think about organizing all the time — because you do it automatically, as an organic part of your everyday routine. And you can only reach this level of organizing bliss by making sure your organizing systems and routines are perfectly adapted to your goals, personality, and needs. Again: organizing is a lifestyle, but it needs to be your lifestyle.


As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure to interview Jane Stoller a.k.a Organized Jane.

Jane Stoller is a Swiss-Canadian life-biz organizer, speaker, author and university instructor whose passion is in de-cluttering spaces and organizing business processes. Jane wrote her first book Organizing for Your Lifestyle in 2016 to help friends get more organized. It ultimately gained international attention, and this allowed Jane to turn her passion into a profitable business, Organized Jane. Stoller travels all around the world promoting her second book, Decluttering for Dummies and working with clients ranging from individuals looking to revamp one space, to large corporations needing a complete business overhaul.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

To begin, I want to go back, to give you a sense of where my organizing habits started. Ever since I can remember, my friends and family have always been amazed at how organized my home and especially my closet was… and still is! Throughout my life, I’ve fielded a steady stream of requests to help friends clean and organize their closets, and I’ve always happily obliged, because organizing is my passion. I would follow up each organizing session with detailed letters outlining what the friends who came to me for help could do to sustain the sense of order I’d created.

So where did my organizing knack come from? I think it must be from my Swiss roots. Switzerland is a country that’s uber-organized and efficient, perhaps stemming from its small size, which makes order essential. The Swiss tend to have smaller houses and living quarters than North Americans. They also tend to invest in quality over quantity, and often prefer a more minimalist lifestyle. My mother also confessed to me that one of my great uncles was an obsessive organizer. She remembers visiting him and being impressed by his extensively polished and organized shoe collection. So, maybe I inherited the organizing gene from my extended Swiss family.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

That I was the first woman in my company to run one of the largest concrete plants in Canada. And I did this not because I was an expert in construction or concrete but because I was good at organizing processes☺

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

Writing my first book and my second has been one of the most vulnerable and scary things I’ve ever done.

Not only is the writing process overwhelming (and also a great organizing challenge), but I’ve had to learn how to overcome self-doubt and the feeling that what I’m sharing isn’t worthwhile.

Part of the self-doubt that came up when I decided I wanted to write a book was the thought, “I’m not a writer.” To give you a little more background, spelling has never been my strong suit. Let’s be honest, I’m always making spelling mistakes and can have a tough time getting my thoughts down on paper. Once I reframed this thought to “I am a writer,” I started feeling more confident in myself and what I wanted to share.

After this I realized that very few people are as passionate about organizing as I am, I knew I had something worthwhile to share. It seemed like there was a niche I needed to fill, and I slowly started trusting that I had the expertise to write a book about it.

Know that you are writing your book because you are an expert. No matter what topic interests you, you have the skills, talent, and resources you need to get it out into the world.

I believe we are all here to help others, and that’s what my books do. I write about organizing because I know firsthand how organizing can help people live better with less stress. Once, I took myself out of the equation and instead thought of who I was writing for, my self-doubt seemed to matter less and I become more focused on the task at hand.

Therefore my 3 tips for aspiring writers:

-IF YOU WRITE, YOU’RE A WRITER
-YOU’RE NOT WRITING A BOOK FOR YOU, BUT FOR OTHERS
-KNOW THAT YOU’RE THE EXPERT

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This might not be funny but a super great turning point. My first attempt to start my own business failed. After completing my MBA, and with a few years of work experience under my belt at corporations in the insurance and construction sectors, I thought I was ready to start my own organizing business. So I did all the usual things: I registered my business, completed my website, prepared content, and was ready to market myself. Or at least, I thought I was ready to market myself. Intellectually, I was comfortable with the fact that I would have to be the face of the company and drive my own profit. But emotionally, I was terrified. Also, initial reactions from a select group of corporate mentors scared me enough that instead of seeking out advice from a variety of sources (which is what I should have done), I just got discouraged. Looking back, I cringe thinking about how quickly I gave up. If I’d had the support that’s so much more readily available today, from coaches, articles like this and online communities of successful entrepreneurs, or if I’d been pro-active enough to look for that support back then, I probably wouldn’t have given up.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now, I have organized my own business processes to help more people get their business organized through group coaching with my signature 6- step process. From clutter to clarity and it has been hugely successful in terms of all participants have seen transformational positive shifts in their businesses. I am obsessed with helping entrepreneurs gain back their time while still being able to scale their businesses.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

In my first book, I shared how a two-week motorcycle trip down the California Baha helped my over-packing syndrome forever. On that trip, I was forced to live out of a tiny bag and realized that I could keep my skincare regimen and still have enough clothes. This was a very unique life experience for me for a few reasons — including the fact that it was the first trip I ever took with my handsome pilot boyfriend. The trip was unique in other ways, though, besides the good company. Before this two-week adventure on the back of a Low Rider Harley Davidson, I’d never been on a motorcycle before. I’d also never packed two weeks worth of clothes into a 20-litre backpack. But, it was an organizing challenge I was prepared to take on. In the end, even though a few things were left behind, I learned a lot about packing lightly and how it actually increases the quality of your vacation not having to lug a heavy suitcase around. I also realized the wonderful feeling of arriving home after traveling and not having a mountain of laundry and a big suitcase to unpack.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

Organizing is a lifestyle, but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Incorporating organizing into your life shouldn’t, ultimately, involve changing who you are, but rather maximizing it. Knowing where your favourite socks are, and having them stored correctly, means you’ll be able to wear your favourite socks more often, and look better doing it. Similarly, packing properly for a once-in-a-lifetime trip means you’ll be able to enjoy that trip even more. Remember: being organized doesn’t mean thinking about organizing all the time. Ideally, being organized means that you don’t have to think about organizing all the time — because you do it automatically, as an organic part of your everyday routine. And you can only reach this level of organizing bliss by making sure your organizing systems and routines are perfectly adapted to your goals, personality, and needs. Again: organizing is a lifestyle, but it needs to be your lifestyle.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. TAKE A BOOK PROPOSAL WRITING COURSE

You can be the best writer and have the best book idea but unless you make a fantastic book proposal, agents and publishers will not look at it. There is a true strategy to this like any business or investment proposal. I took a course from another accomplished author Jen Sincero.

2. HAVE A ROCK-SOLID BRAND AND TEAM ALREADY IN PLACE

To be seen as a credible expert in your field, you need to have an established brand. You should have at least some sort of social media following, and should regularly post about the topics you’re writing about. Additionally, a professionally-made website that further explains your offerings is essential. Not only is an online presence paramount, but so is a real-life presence. Speaking at or being a part of conferences related to the topic you’re passionate about will help you build a real-life following and also help your brand’s word-of-mouth marketing. If you have the budget, invest in a PR person to help you get the press to spread your message and again be seen as credible to potential publishers. I did all of this consistently for years before and still do today to promote my books and to share how I support others.

3. BE PREPARED FOR REJECTION

Think of approaching book publishers the same way a start-up would approach potential investors. You may need to approach hundreds of agents to get a few that are interested in putting you in front of publishers. You could go directly to publishers, but you have less chances of getting noticed. The more work you do on your brand beforehand, the easier it will be to get an agent and then a publisher. Be prepared for lots of rejection and not hearing back from publishers, and keep your head up. If you have a rock-solid brand, a great idea, an effective book proposal and determination, you will get noticed! I think I approached 300 agents before I got even a call back.

4. ONCE YOUR BOOK IS DONE IT IS TOO LATE FOR MARKETING

You need to start marketing your book before you even begin thinking about the book or writing it. Your brand should be rock solid before you start and as soon as you start writing you need to be promoting it.

5. GO ON TOUR

To organize a book tour, I recommend picking a city you already have a network in so that you know at least a few people who will show up. Make sure you get social during your tours; ask people to come, offer giveaways, and make it a big deal in any way that you can. This is one of the most exciting times for your book, so don’t underplay it. Own it!

For my second book, my publisher said they don’t spend on book tours anymore as they didn’t see the ROI. I still did my own as this was the one time I could celebrate, meet real people to share the book and listen to their stories.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

YOU DON’T NEED TO QUIT YOUR FULL-TIME JOB IF YOU’RE EFFICIENT

I am not a full-time author and writer and for me I believe if your writing self-help or non-fiction books it is better if you have a career/job/business as your likely sharing expertise or a skill from that. I also think having something else other than writing makes you more efficient. I do a variety of consulting projects related to improving business efficiency and helping entrepreneurs get organized, I teach undergrad business courses and an MBA class, I write books about organizing, I share my advice and tips consistently on my social media channels, I sell products that I know will make your life more efficient, I speak at corporate events and conferences (plus I organize conferences in Vancouver and Whistler, I facilitate workshops, I collaborate with media for articles and tv appearances, I manage my rental property in the Bahamas, I help my parents run their resort business, and I am helping develop a tech startup which focuses on designing a video game for the construction industry.

Needless to say, I am busy! And amongst all of these projects, I still managed to write a book. It’s all about time management. Learn how to effectively manage your calendar, batch your tasks, and prioritize your to-dos. Revisit previous blog posts to learn more about optimizing your time management.

My top tips are:

DEDICATE TIME DAILY

Simply schedule one hour a day to write versus an entire day or week.

When I was writing my book, I had very tight deadlines so I dedicated two hours daily to writing 6 days a week and I did this between 9–11 p.m. For some reason, my writing flowed at this time and I also had the least amount of distractions.

USE A TIME CUBE

Seriously, this cube keeps me on track. I don’t know what it is — if the number keeps staring at me, I literally only do the task at hand until it beeps. I sell these on organizedjane.com

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I am constantly listening to business audiobooks my favorites are around efficiency. Currently I am re-reading Traction by Gino Wickman.

Then I also read a variety of self-help books from Gabrielle Bernstein to my blogs from my friends in the spiritual place.

Then I also read lots of design and beauty books. It is like my business I believe organizing is holistic from your home to your office and back. I also read books about all these genres.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That we stop buying so much stuff. My book Decluttering for Dummies, is popular because in North America we are constantly consuming. We really need to stop reduce even just 1% per household.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

www.organizedjane.com

https://www.instagram.com/organizedjane/

https://www.youtube.com/c/JaneStoller

https://www.linkedin.com/in/janestoller

My books

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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