Recognized Expert in Field of Organization
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an
exclusive interview with Valentina Sgro, professional organizer and founder of SGRO Consulting, Solutions for
Getting Really Organized.
In 1985, Valentina Sgro
left her 12-hour-a-day position at a major law firm for a 16-hour-a-day job of
childrearing and household management. In 1989, realizing that things were out
of control, Val began trying to find a system which would get her organized. In
1997, with order established in her own life, Val founded
SGRO Consulting, Solutions for
Getting Really Organized. SGRO Consulting is dedicated to assisting individuals
and businesses develop customized systems that fit their unique personalities,
atmospheres, and situations, and which increase productivity and free time
while reducing stress.
In 1977, Val received
her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, with a major in
Accounting, from John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio and in 1980,
her J.D. law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor,
Michigan. She is a Certified Chronic Disorganization Specialist and a member of
NAPO's Golden Circle.
Val is the Treasurer of
NAPO, the National Association of Professional
Organizers, and is a past treasurer of NSGCD, the
National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization.
Val consults privately and lectures
regularly on various organizing topics. She writes a monthly article for the
SGRO Consulting website: www.ReallyOrganized.com.
Val’s recently released book “Organize Your
Family’s Schedule in No Time”(Que), helps you to get control of the calendar.
Q: Valentina, thank you for doing this interview with us!
A: Thank you, Stephen.
Q: In addition to being a Certified Chronic Disorganization Specialist, you
have a BSc in Business Administration with a major in Accounting and a JD Law
degree. What aspects of your experience and education do you find most useful
in your very successful career? Describe the decisions you made to reach your
A: There's no question that my business and legal backgrounds gave me the
tools I need to run my own business. Being a lawyer makes me more aware of
potential risks which, in turn, causes me to make decisions in a more measured
Q: Can you describe your work at SGRO
Consulting, Solutions for Getting Really Organized.
Please detail the services you provide.
A: Over the past seven years I've helped countless people organize their
homes. But now I focus my services on business organizing--teaching organizing
principles to an entire staff and then working with individuals to adjust their
workflow and workspace to their own organizing styles while still dovetailing
with the company's systems.
Q: Your presentations/workshops/seminars are tailored towards individuals,
professionals, and businesses. In fact, one of your seminars (Law and the
Practice of Order) has been approved by the Ohio Supreme Court commission on
Continuing Legal Education. What makes
your presentations/seminars/workshops so successful?
A: People take away more from a presentation if it's engaging. I use lots of examples and humor to
illustrate the principles I teach, so that my audience will remember them.
Q: As a professional organizer, you would have been exposed to innumerable
interesting events. Can you share your two most surprising experiences?
good professional organizer should never be surprised by anything.
One of the most unusual clients I've had
actually felt trapped by his meticulous time management and hired me to show
him how to loosen up his schedule.
Q: Can you share with us a humorous story?
A: For a time, I subcontracted to unpack and put away people's stuff after
a corporate move. As I was unpacking one
box, the homeowner kept insisting the movers must have given her someone else's
box. I was about halfway through the box
before she recognized one of her possessions.
Q: Tell us more about the National Association of Professional Organizers
(NAPO) and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD).
A: NAPO is The Organizing Authority with a mission to develop, lead and
promote professional organizers and the organizing industry. It was established
in 1985 and has grown to 3000 members.
NSGCD is an educational association that
explores, develops, and disseminates organizing methods, techniques,
approaches, and solutions that benefit chronically disorganized people.
Q: You are a successful organizational professional, educator, speaker, and
writer? What are your top organizational techniques that you use in your own
A: One of my most efficient tools is my idea box. I always have more ideas
than I have time to implement, so, in order to stay focused, when I get a new
idea I write it on a 3x5 card and toss it into a box. Once a year, I take out all the cards, pitch
the ones that don't sound good anymore, select a few I want to implement in the
coming year, and throw the rest back into the box. This technique keeps me
working toward attainable goals while insuring that I never lose a good idea.
Q: What are three organizational tips for the business professional?
A: 1) Set aside two hours a day without interruptions.
2) Group similar tasks whenever possible.
3) Get enough sleep.
Q: Provide an overview of your recent book,
“Organize Your Family’s Schedule in No Time.” What makes this book so
interesting and valuable? What prompted you to write this book?
A: I was very enthusiastic when Que
Publishing approached me with this title, because, as far as I know, it's the
only book that specifically and exclusively addresses the topic of organizing
family schedules. I believe I've been able to use my organizing expertise to
show how a family can respect individual personalities, styles, and interests
and still have a smooth-running, coordinated household and family. One of the special features of my book is that it provides
self-assessment questionnaires to guide the reader to arrange the family
schedule and select scheduling tools to complement the personalities and
learning styles of the family members.
Q: Can you provide three useful tips from
A: 1) Select scheduling tools that fit your
family members' styles.
2) Don't over-schedule.
3) Involve all family members.
Q: You have designed and implemented many different solutions. Share two
case studies and the lessons you have learned from each.
A: Let me give you an idea of the method I use to design and implement
solutions. When I first meet with a client, I assess the clues that are
available to me and use them to formulate a solution. If the person has a lot
of pets, I know he would prefer life in his workspace, such as a plant or
goldfish. If the person is wearing bright clothes, I know that she might
appreciate a color-coded system. If the person is surrounded by sports
trophies, then we need to make organizing and work into a game. It's all about
tailoring the system to the personality of the individual or company.
Q: In terms of time and organization, what are the most compelling issues
facing individuals and business professionals today and in the future? How can
they be resolved?
think the most compelling organizational issue is learning to deal with the
proliferation of email and the sense of urgency that attends it. People used to
jump up to answer the phone at dinner, but now they screen their calls and use
answering machines. Similar coping mechanisms are certain to be developed for
Q: List your 5 best resources.
A: 1) NAPO and its members
2) NSGCD and its members
3) my clients
4) the public library
5) the Internet
Q: What future books can we expect from you?
anticipate that my next book will be about dealing with all the paperwork that
flows into our homes and offices.
Q: In terms of education and skills, what would you recommend to someone
wanting to get into this field of professional organizing?
A: The large majority of professional organizers hold a college degree. I
would say some of the most useful ones are in business, sociology, psychology,
Q: What are the qualities that describe a successful Organizational
A: A professional organizer needs to be a
good listener and a creative problem solver.
Q: Where do you see yourself and your company in five years?
A: I have a lot of ideas in my box; but I
prefer not to share my business plan.
Q: What goals do you wish to accomplish? If you had to do it all over
again, would you do anything differently?
A: I'd like to clear out a little more of
my own paperwork; but I'm pretty happy with where I am and how I got here.
Q: If you were doing this interview, what questions would you ask of
someone in your position and what would be your answers?
A: Q1: What are your top organizing book
recommendations by other authors?
The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young
and Peggy Jones
Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell
Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley
Q2: Why should a company or individual hire
a professional organizer?
A2: If they feel they need help getting
organized, a professional organizer has the expertise to produce results that
will ultimately save the client time and money.
Q3: Is there one organizing thought you would like to leave us with?
A3: Yes: Neat is not the same as organized.
While there is some correlation between the two, a person can be neat and still
be disorganized, and a person can be organized without being neat.
Q: Valentina, thank you again for your
time, and consideration in doing this interview.
A: It's been my pleasure, Stephen. I hope your audience will learn more about my
services and buy my book by visiting my website at http://www.ReallyOrganized.com.