Who works for Clear Space?

Clear Space Organizing is the creation of Mark Mansfield, owner and sole employee. While growth is the goal of any business, because of the unique nature of Clear Space, Mark will always be the organizer for the company with any future employees providing support functions.

What is your training? Do you do Feng Shui?

Organizing and spatial relations have always been a skill and interest. When I was young I used to clean my sisters room and organize my dad’s basement for fun. Both personal and friend’s moves during my adult life have allowed me to refine my ability to efficiently organize possessions in a variety of different environments.

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1994. I graduated with my Masters in Counseling from the University of Phoenix in 2000 and have been a cognitive-behavioral based therapist since and have worked with a number of different populations.

I also attended a 500 hour energy healing school called the School of Heart Awakening based in Cave Creek, AZ, graduating from that in 2000. I am certified in Levels 1 & 2 of Eric Pearl’s Reconnective Healing as well. In these courses I learned how energy flows and is blocked both in one’s body and one’s environment. While I share an understanding of how energy flows with Feng Shui I am not certified or trained in that practice.

Can I call former clients for a reference?

Due to the confidential nature of my work, it is completely up to my clients whether or not they feel comfortable allowing me to provide their phone number as a reference. Some former clients are okay with that and some are not. As a way of sharing their satisfaction with others I ask clients to provide a rating on Kudzu.com, Angieslist.com, and/or on my Facebook page.

What if I don’t want to meet you for the first time in my home or office?

I understand the sensitive nature of having a stranger enter your space, especially as the people in need of my services are often embarrassed or ashamed of their environment. From the very first phone call I work toward developing a connection with you and easing your discomfort. Sometimes a stepped approach is desired and we can arrange to meet at a coffee shop or other public place near your home or office. However, it is impossible to provide an estimate for the job without seeing your space and talking about what you would like to do with it. As such, once rapport has been developed in public we would need to go to your space to complete the estimate process.

What is included in the free estimate?

The estimate is a free 30 minutes to an hour which accomplishes several purposes. First it is a way to meet face-to-face and develop rapport and comfort with each other. Secondly we talk about what you want to accomplish by working with me—a room, office, garage, or the whole house. We prioritize and develop a plan, including a schedule, and I talk with you about things you can do prior to starting our work together as well as answer any questions you might have. Finally, we tour the areas in which we are going to work and I estimate approximately how long it will take and how much it will cost. It is during this time that we can negotiate a full job cost.

What if I can’t afford what the job would cost? Do you want any money up front?

I never want cost to stop a person from making positive changes in their lives. As stated on my website my base rate for the full holistic package is $100/hr and my rate for organizing only is $50/hr. However if we determine during the estimate that the time it will take to complete the job is more than you had budgeted we can collaboratively negotiate a whole job rate to make it more affordable for you.

I do not request or expect any payment until the job is completed. I do not invoice, when the job is done payment is due, however I will send you a receipt for your records. Ideal payment is cash or check but I also accept credit cards through PayPal. I find that by waiting until the job is finished for payment my clients are able to see exactly what they have gotten for their money and have guaranteed satisfaction rather than feeling like they are taking a risk up front.

How long will a job take? Do you schedule daily or weekly? Will you work around my schedule?

How long a job takes is completely dependent on what you want to accomplish and how dense your clutter and disorganization are. This is determined at the time of the estimate and can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The ideal is to work on a job daily and consecutively in 2-5 hour blocks until it is complete in order to avoid the three-steps forward two-steps back trap. Working in longer time blocks helps maintain momentum but, like everything else about my work, is completely up to individual preference. Your schedule determines my schedule and I will work around your time limitations. It could be a few hours in the evenings, all day for a few days, or only during the weekends. The form our shared schedule takes is also determined at the time of the estimate.

What is you process for working with me?

During the estimate we decide where we want to start and what we want to prioritize. We choose a room and work together side-by-side in that room until it is finished. During that time we will divide our tasks based on the unique needs of the room and the individual. I like to start by emptying out the room to the degree needed prior to reassembling it (though again this is based on individual need.) I may have you begin sorting your things as I am moving them or ask you to focus on another task that requires your attention and perspective.

During this time we engage in the counseling aspect of the work—discussing patterns, what works and doesn’t work about your space, what needs your choices address and how to meet those needs in different ways, as well as anything else that comes up in the moment. I am continually asking for your feedback as well as exploring what works and what doesn’t with your current systems. From there we talk about and create other systems that will work for you. At other times we may just work on our tasks in silence or engage in simple, friendly conversation. The whole thing becomes a very present-focused activity responsive to the needs of the moment. Your voice and input are always the most important part of the process. I will also sometimes assign you “homework” to complete prior to our next session. These are tasks that you can complete on your own to prepare for the next step in the process like sorting things or going through drawers or papers.

What if your solutions don’t work for me?

If they don’t work for you they don’t work at all. Everybody’s needs are different and from the very beginning of a job I am exploring not only what is functional for you but also what is comfortable and desired. Throughout the job I continuously share my ideas and ask for your feedback. I may suggest different ways of doing something but will never allow my vision to supersede yours-you always have the final say of whether or not a particular system will work for you.

Do I have to buy a bunch of things to help me become organized?

I have found that, more often than not, when used efficiently, people have almost everything that they need already. I try to use and re-purpose people’s existing resources as much as possible. As we get closer to a job’s completion the need for additional material will become clear. The most I have had a client do to this point is spend an extra $40 at an office supply store.

Will you come in and tell me to get rid of all of my things?

Short answer: No. Slightly longer answer: If you are coming to me for assistance it is likely that your possessions have begun to possess you rather than the other way around. I may ask you to examine why you are choosing to keep certain things, what need they fill, or what purpose they serve in your life. Often lack consciousness and attachments influence what we keep around us and usually it isn’t the things themselves that provide us with comfort, but rather what they represent. As a general rule of thumb if something is one-of-a-kind, holds special meaning, or would be expensive to replace I encourage you to keep it and we will find a place for it. If something doesn’t meet that criteria or is the equivalent of a jar full of used Q-Tips we will examine what need that item fills and look for other ways to meet the same need. Bottom line—you are always in control of what stays and what goes.

What happens with my things?

That’s up to you. As we are going through a room I generally have people divide their things up into three basic categories: 1) Things that you use on a daily or near daily basis and/or really love; 2) Things that aren’t used regularly but that you want to keep around for whatever reason (practicality or sentimentality); and 3) Things you are ready to let go of and move on. Places are found for the items in the first two categories as the room is being put together.

The items in the third category have several possible destinations. Broken/unrepairable items and obvious garbage ends up in the trash/recycling. Low worth items are generally donated to a second-hand store like Goodwill. However, it is sometimes the case that people have a connection with a particular charity or group of people and it is easier for them to let things go when they know that their things will be benefiting a particular group (i.e. toys for orphans or needy children, clothes for battered women, etc.) More expensive items can be sold on Craigslist, Ebay, or to a local consignment shop. I can assist you in that process if you so desire but only do so by request.

Will you tell others about me and my challenges?

This is an area where professional ethics play a big role. Everything that happens in our work is held strictly confidential. There may be times when my work with you is relevant to helping another client with his/her challenges. In those instances only those aspects that are relevant will be discussed and then only in the most unidentifiable of ways. If you are comfortable in being a work reference for future clients nothing about our work together will be discussed other than the fact that you were a client.

What does counseling have to do with organizing anyway?

All of our behaviors and patterns have developed as a result of our experiences and ways of thinking. It is often difficult to step outside of ourselves to obtain a different perspective. If we do the same things and think about them in the same way we will continually get the same results. Sometimes these patterns develop from the way we grew up, others have developed as a way of meeting certain needs throughout our lives. While we are working on organizing we discuss these patterns looking at how you can shift your behaviors and beliefs to stop recreating the same undesirable environments. It is not counseling in the classical sense as it is focused solely on the things that contribute to your disorganized environment and is done as part of the whole process rather than being a separate aspect.

What if I just want my space organized and don’t want to deal with the patterns?

As stated earlier, I offer a reduced rate for organizing only. However, I encourage clients to engage in the full process at least initially as lasting change only comes by dealing with the deeper patterns that have created and perpetuated the disorganization and clutter. I can and will just help you organize your space if that is what you wish but it is more likely that your space will just return to it’s original state without the deeper work to change the patterns. It boils down to catching your fish for you rather than teaching you how to fish.

What is included in your referral incentive?

Referrals are the heart of service oriented businesses such as this. To encourage referrals I offer the choice of 2 incentives for any referrals that turn into a job: A free hours worth of work or a small percentage of the total cost of the job you referred up to $30. In this way a person can cover or reduce the cost of having their own space organized.

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