Aug 8, 2022

Sunbound Asks: Matt Celentano of Utterly Organized

Nat Miller

This week on Sunbound Asks we sat down with Matt Celentano, a Professional Organizer, NAPO Member, and owner of Utterly Organized in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a pleasure talking to Matt about all things professional organizing, including how he got started in professional organizing, his favorite strategies for staying organized in his own life, and why if he weren’t a professional organizer he would be teaching. Learn more about Matt by checking out his website here, or by reading our interview below. 

Q: How long have you been a professional organizer?

A: This is year 3.


Q: How’d you get into professional organizing?

A: I have a degree in psychology from Rutgers, and I worked a bunch of different jobs after college including retail, food service, construction, landscaping, teaching, and coaching. I basically figured out that I didn’t want to do a desk job, but I still wanted to help people. One thing I realized was that I had always been good at organizing at all of the previous jobs that I had. When I was a waiter, for example, one of my first jobs was volunteering to organize the food pantry and keg room. I remember being there all by myself and getting an excited feeling about all the possibilities the room could have. So I organized it and worked straight through for 3 or 4 hours and it went by really fast. It felt like when you’re playing a sport and you’re in the zone. When I worked construction I organized the construction trailer and the workshop. After that I had a big move job where a general contractor that I knew needed to move his entire woodshop from one location to another. Me and another couple guys helped him pack the trucks and get set up in his new location. From there I found a couple organizing jobs and said “hey I kind of like this.” I had done home renovations and found that work a little more tedious, whereas with organizing I saw faster results and felt like I was accomplishing more in a quicker way. 


Q: What’s your favorite type of project to work on since you started your business?

A: I’ve been enjoying the closet renovations, both designing and organizing them. My favorite are where I can come up with some kind of design, whether it’s wooden or wire shelving, and then do the install and then the organization myself. Those have been pretty enjoyable jobs. I just recently did a custom shelving piece for a garage. It was an older house where the garage was all concrete block walls, and so I had to use the hammer drill to pre-drill for the closets. So it's cool when I get to be a little bit of a handyman combined with being an organizer. 


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

A:  I’ve had a lot of different kinds of clients. Some have been pretty funny, there’s just something unique about the conversations that you have with people when you’re in their homes and learning about their lives. So I love that aspect of really getting to know the person. This is especially true for older adults who have some really great stories that they’ve picked up throughout their lives. Another aspect I love is people being thankful and appreciating the work, and being happy with the results. It always feels good when the customer is happy at the end of the day and you feel like you did a good job. 


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

A: My style of organizing is just jumping right in and getting started, which can be kind of unconventional because some people like to start with a lot of planning and talking. But I like to start by jumping in and using that to get momentum. I like to jump in, get something easy done, and then move forward with that momentum. It can be good to use your intuition to know where to start and then to go with your gut. Projects can be done in more than one way, and sometimes just starting and getting momentum will help you the most to really accomplish your goals. 


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

A:  The one I use most is to spend 10-15 minutes every day cleaning up. I pretty much have a home for everything, so I know where everything goes and it’s very easy for me to put things where they belong. I always like to hit that reset button when I get home and get everything where it belongs.


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

A: I wish people knew how much they could accomplish, and that oftentimes they’re just having trouble getting started, or they’ve gotten started and they just need someone else there with them to help them and keep them on track. There’s something about having another person there that helps you organize, and makes you take it seriously, but it can be a lot easier than people think. I wish people would find the confidence and the discipline to get it done. If you just jump in and do one thing you can make a lot of progress in just 20-30 minutes a day in small steps. Sometimes people are afraid to start, but they shouldn’t be. 


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

A: Probably teaching.The one reason that I didn’t choose teaching is because for me it takes a lot of energy to be speaking and talking all day, maybe that’s a muscle I could grow, but for whatever reason I don’t usually do a whole lot of talking all day and that kind of steered me away from teaching. Also, when you’re teaching you’re either sitting in a chair or standing and talking. I like that in organizing I’m all over - walking, crouching, taking stairs - all these different positions and movements. Overall it just feels better moving around all day. 


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

A: The first one that comes to mind is NAPO, but I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. Another great resource is Pinterest. They always have great home project ideas, from ways to decorate a new space to ideas on how to stay organized. 

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