Jul 21, 2022

Sunbound Asks: Leigh Achenbach of Suddenly Simple Professional Organizing

Nat Miller

In our first installment of Sunbound Asks we sat down with Leigh Achenbach, a professional organizer whose business Suddenly Simple Professional Organizing serves the greater Nashville and middleTennessee areas, including Murfreesboro, Franklin, Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Brentwood. It was a pleasure speaking with Leigh as we discussed all things from how a move to Los Angeles, California sparked her professional organizing career, to her volunteer work in her community. Check out our conversation below to learn all about Leigh’s work and to pick up a tip or two for keeping your own life organized. 

 Q: How long have you been a professional organizer?

A: We just had our fourth anniversary in April, so a little over 4 years.

Q: How’d you get into professional organizing?

A: So it was something that kind of just happened. I had just gotten married, and three weeks later we had to make a move across the country for my husband’s job because he had just gotten stationed out in Los Angeles. We had moved out from Tennessee so it was a whole new life. I had been working a desk job at an insurance company and I couldn’t see myself doing it forever. So when we moved I decided to find a new job. I was an entrepreneurship major in college and so I always wanted to start a business. I took some online personality and career tests and the trait that kept coming up was organizing, so I thought how can I use this in a job. My research also led me to professional organizing itself. I had no idea professional organizing could be a job, so I decided to work with some professional organizers in Los Angeles and it turned out to be perfect. I knew that we would be moving back to Tennessee one day, so while I worked for companies out thereI built my business plan and then started my company from there. 

Q: What’s your favorite type of project to work on?

A: I really love working on closets and pantries. I feel like those are the areas that make the biggest impact on everyday routines and everyday life, and they’re always so pretty in the end when they’re organized. My company helps organize all areas in a home, but sometimes rooms like garages and attics are more purely functional spaces.Working on closets and pantries is great because while they’re meant for everyday use, the final presentation can end up looking very pretty as well.

Q: What’s your favorite memory as a professional organizer?

A: Once a year we try and do a volunteer project, usually around the holidays. One year roughly two years ago we worked with a woman who was terminally ill, and she really wanted to get her things in order knowing she would pass soon. Along with me and my team, and a couple of other professional organizers in the Nashville area, we worked together going through everything she owned and making sure that her family wasn’t left with an overwhelming amount when she was gone. It was an incredibly intimate and personal experience, and it was incredible to really make a difference in someone’s life which is one of the reasons why I got into organizing in the first place - to be able to do something meaningful for someone else. 

Q: What’s your most unconventional professional organizing tip or trick?

A: I don’t know if it’s super unconventional, but one thing we always do is to help people try and find uses for things they already have. So before they go out and spend a bunch of money on things for organizing, like containers and boxes, we try to make use of the things they already own. People sometimes think “if only I had the right bins or the right containers I’d be organized,” but that isn’t what’s necessary. What people need to really focus on is the decluttering aspect not the containing aspect, making sure they have a system to go through their belongings and get rid of what they don’t want.  

Q: What professional organizing practice do you use most in your own life?

A: Definitely daily tidying up. You have to make sure daily tidying up becomes a part of your routine, because if not your clutter can get out of control really fast. But if you have the right systems set up, with a home for every item, tidying up can just be an easy 5-10 minutes at the end of the day. Organizing isn’t a one and done thing, you need to maintain it, so doing things daily is really helpful. 

Q: What’s your favorite new professional organizing trend?

A: One thing I didn’t really know about until I became a professional organizer is file folding, which is a Marie Kondo concept of storing things vertically next to one another rather than stacked one on top of each other. This lets you look through your shirts, for example, without having to dig to the bottom of the drawer. We use this technique in every closet that we do because it really helps with maintenance and being able to see everything without having to upend your entire closet. 

The practice of file folding lets you see everything in your closet at once, meaning no more digging for that favorite shirt.

Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about professional organizing?

A: That getting organized doesn’t happen like on the TV shows. You need more than a 30 minute episode to get organized. A lot of the TV shows that have come out about professional organizers are great because they’ve boosted general knowledge of professional organizing, but they sometimes create unrealistic expectations that professional organizing can be done too quickly or cheaply. I wish people understood that sometimes to really organize you need to dive deep and really go into every item. When we go through everything as a team, it can sometimes take up to a day as we really make sure to find a place for everything and make it specific for how people use the space. It’s a lot more time consuming than people think, and it can be a much bigger investment than people think, but it’s also so much more rewarding than people sometimes think, which makes getting really organized so worth it.

Q: If you weren’t a professional organizer, what else would you be doing?

A: I would probably be doing something in golf, maybe being a golf teacher. I played golf in college but I probably wouldn't play anymore. I like teaching and helping, so I’d probably do one of those things in golf. 

Q: What professional organizing resources would you suggest for our readers?

A: I always tell my clients to follow professional organizers on Instagram. One really useful thing is for people to look at some before and after pictures to get some great ideas as well as some inspiration and motivation. It’s always really helpful for people to see real life success stories so that they can think “I can do this too.” Plus you sometimes just get really great tips and tricks by following all the really amazing professional organizers out there. 

Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living. If you want to learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for residents and easier to manage for communities, email us at info@sunboundhomes.com or request a demo here. Sunbound is on a mission to make senior living more affordable for everyone.

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