Tanisha Porter with her husband Dana and her two children Ashlee and Cole.
A before and after picture of a clients walk-in closet.
Organizing Your Life: The Natural Way!
I sat with Tanisha to talk about how, with such a busy life of family, career, and church, she manages to single handedly run one of the most successful and efficient up and coming organizing business' in greater and urban Los Angeles. Take a look at what she had to say about organization, family and living a more free life sans the stress of lazy clutter!
DJ: With the many different hats you wear (mother/wife/entrepreneur), what is a typical day in the life of Tanisha Porter?
TP: A typical day is basically balancing my day; balancing the responsibilities and the expectations of being a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, and a mentor of sorts to different people. It's getting up and figuring out, "What exactly are you trying to accomplish for the day?" Not putting too much stress on myself and living an easy-breezy life; while tyring to get through as many tasks as I can in the day.
DJ: Being someone with so many things to do and a myriad of responsibilities, have you ever felt that you needed to be perfect?
TP: I think in the past I put a little too much pressure on msyelf, not neccessarily to be perfect but to just do it all. My motto and mantra this year is Balance or Bust; just trying to balance my life. So I try to touch a litle bit of everything every day. If I don't cook seven days a week, that's ok; if my house is not one hundred percent perfect, thats ok; if I don't knock and scratch out everything on my To Do list for the day, that's OK! As long as I've touched most of the major points in my life on a daily basis, I'll continue cruising along and being efficient and productive, and that's good enough for me.
DJ: With the expectations that you balance daily and with such a great mantra for 2014, Balance or Bust, was there a high pressure put on you by others in past years to , as you said, do it all? Or was that something that you solely took on yourself?
TP: I think it may have been a little bit of both. Some was self-inflicted and some was put on me by other people. I can remember a few years ago, in talking to different people in my life, they would come to me with random questions and I would start answering them, "I don't know." I started answering those questions [with I don't know] because it was a warning sign that I was becoming very overwhelmed. Being that "go to" person for most of the people in my life, I started realizing the difference between being a support system and being an enabler. So I think I started saying, "Well I don't know, what do you think?" Because people just stopped thinking and expected for me to give them the answer. [On the other hand] given my personality, I don't want to fail. If I know someone is depending on me I want to do things right. I have a certain level of integrity that motiviates me to do a good job no matter what I do.
DJ: Well it definitely sounds like you have a knack for not only organzing rooms but also organizing people and your overall life. Looking back, was organization something you got from your family or was it something that was just in you; causing for you to be the oddball of the bunch?
TP: It definitely didn't come from my family! I think the only person, growing up, that I know from my family who was uber organized was my maternal grandmother. She was a very, very organized person. On the flip side I feel like my mom was not BECAUSE my grandmother was so organized. However our household was run pretty effeciently nonetheless.
DJ: Looking at the name of your business, Natural Born Organizers, what was the reasoning behind the choice to brand that name?
TP: I can remember being in the sixth grade helping my teacher organize her classroom; being at home during spring break and organizing my parents pantry. Organizing the cupboard because it seemed all the mugs and cups were mixed up with no rhyme or reason. It just made sense to me to organize it. So looking back on my life I felt that it was something that I just naturally did. A skill that I really was just born with, so that became the reason for my business name.
DJ: I simply love the slogan/motto of your business: "Organization isn't perection; it's efficiency." Makes me feel like organization is something I can really handle. Especially if my life is crazy busy; as I'm sure you're clients tend to be. How did that come to be your motto?
TP: I think when people see that I'm organized they think everything in my life is going to be perfect and it's not. Growing up, my room wasn't always spotless. My closet wasn't always perfect but there was something about me in which those things could only get so unorganized before I would do a refresh or a purging. So I wanted a motto that let people know that organization is not about being perfect, it's about being efficient and maintaining what you've worked so hard to organize and get in order.
DJ: I'm sure as a professional organizer you come across many unorganized people, or people not as well put together as yourself, who would consider you to be a bit OCD (Over Compulsive Disorder) or at least joke about it in some manner. Do you find that to be just playful banter? Or do you find it to be a derogatory term, being that OCD is a real disorder that people suffer from?
TP: I do take it negatively, not because OCD is a negative thing but because I know that I'm NOT OCD. I fight so hard against the "throw away" title of the OCD umbrella because certain things don't cause me angst [on that level]. Disorganization causes me angst but not to the extent of being anxiety ridden. OCD is a real mental disorder that people do have and like any mental disorder there's a spectrum; it goes from mild to severe; which in severe cases can render people to be non-functional in their daily lives. On the mild side I think we all are OCD on some level, however I think that because the term is a catch phrase used in today's world; people whose organizational skills are above the norm just get thrown into that bucket. Much like any other disorder people use to quickly catergorize others too quickly like Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression and things like that.
DJ: It seems that being organized and the idea of organization is truly a lifestyle. One that not everyone chooses or may naturally come by. How did you come to take something that comes so naturally for you and turn that ino a profitable business?
TP: I had been watching several make-over television shows, reading different magazines of the same nature, and realized there is a real need for professional organizers. I was seeing there was a career for people who translate their learned skills or natural skills to benefit other people who don't have the gift of organizing. I think everyone has had a job or time in their life where what they do pays the bills, the tuition and things like that but it isn't what they go to sleep thinking about. It doesn't move them or motiviate them. I too was in that mindset. Since high school I've always wanted to know what I love, that comes easy, and how I can translate those things into a profitable career. I've tried multiple things in the past from coordinating spa parties for young girls to scrapbooking. Those ventures did well but there was something about professional organizing that just made me feel like, "This is it!" I believe when you're disorganized in your life it comes at a cost. To be able to go in and help someone get their life in order via a well organized room or filing system and alleviate the cost they have to pay is priceless to me! This is my way to make a difference in other people's lives AND have another source of income to provide for me and my family.