By Felicia S. Levine
Even as a child, professional organizer Michelle Worthington had her act together. While other kids were out frolicking in the dirt, the pristine 10-year-old was blissfully rearranging the family garage.
“I remember everything had to be in its place,” recalls her mother, Diana Gilpin. “And if it didn’t have a place, she’d get rid of it.”
Quips Worthington: “I’ve just always loved helping. Putting things in order feels good.”
The Boca Raton married mom has since turned her passion into a career, in 2012 launching her company, Worthy Spaces. Most recently, she was named president of the National Association of Professional Organizers’ (NAPO) South Florida chapter, which includes 47 members from Martin to Miami-Dade counties. Its Mount Laurel, N.J.-based umbrella group includes nearly 4,000 associates whose vision is to “have the world recognize the value of organizing.”
A noble band of super-straighteners armed with label makers and color-coded boxes… who knew?
When people hear what she does for a living, “They assume it’s a hobby,” admits Worthington, who jokingly describes her job as a cross between a cleaning lady and therapist. “Some tasks are very mundane… but often clients have emotional connections to their belongings and need to talk things through. There’s empathy and confidentiality involved.”
A former software developer, Worthington helps homeowners and businesses make sense of chaos — from transforming closets and rooms into picture-perfect spaces, to digitally rearranging desktops, computer files and other data. There’s not much she doesn’t do.
Lately, she’s enjoyed working with clients’ photos and memorabilia. “Certificates, old pictures, sports medals and things picked up along the way that document your life are so important, but they’re always a hot mess scattered throughout the home,” she says. “I help get it all together in a safe place.”
Her advice for the organizationally challenged: Don’t bite off more than you can chew: “Start with a small drawer, or something you can accomplish in the timeframe allotted,” she says.
Do your research: “There’s a plethora of books and online articles if you’re stuck.”
And if all else fails: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Oh – and it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of OCD.
“I am very detail-oriented,” says Worthington. “But in a light-hearted way. I understand messes happen. Life happens.”