As business owners and freelancers, we all understand the importance of tending to our digital life – whether it’s through blogging, social media or email.

But online tasks have the uncanny ability to take over our days. To manage digital creep, professional organizer and consultant Geralin Thomas suggests asking yourself if you’re contributing or contaminating your brand by logging on to any particular platform. Don’t be afraid to disconnect for a few days and enjoy your life.

“I believe social media is most effective when it’s social, which is why I’m not the biggest fan of scheduled tweets,” she says. “When you’re available to socialize, be present and engage with your customers – they’ll appreciate the genuine interaction.”

The founder of Metropolitan Organizing recently checked in with us to share more advice on organizing your business life while building your brand. 

Hey, Geralin! First off, can you tell us a bit about your professional background?

Before I became a professional organizer, I worked as a travel agent and booked continuing education seminars for medical and dental schools. After years of helping my friends organize, one of them said, “Geralin, you need to start charging for this. You’ve got a business here.” That’s when I created Metropolitan Organizing, LLC and built a team of professional organizers who work in and around Raleigh-Durham-Cary, N.C.

Tell us about Metropolitan Organizing, LLC…what services do you offer? Who should be using them?

I work with new professional organizers to start and grow their organizing businesses through one-on-one coaching. I share my insights and offer my advice on practically every aspect of the industry. It’s the perfect way for highly motivated professional organizers to get direct answers to specific questions. I know where organizers should focus their time, energy and money and it’s a pleasure to help so many new professional organizers achieve their dreams.

The Metropolitan Organizing team helps homeowners in the Raleigh Metropolitan area with organizing their homes, offices and lives. By focusing on a team-oriented approach and emphasizing simplicity, we’re able to provide real organizing solutions for real people.

What do you think have been the best marketing tools for building your client base?

Public speaking and networking at conferences and events has helped me build my client base in Raleigh and across the U.S. Social media is great, but it will never replace face-to-face interactions.

What do you think are some of the most underrated marketing tools? Which ones do you think offer the most bang for their buck?

Every business owner should invest in their website, blog and social media. When used strategically, each of these tools are excellent, cost-efficient ways to build an audience and reach new clients. Through sharing organizing tips, tactics and tools on my blog, Managing Modern Life, I’ve been able to reach more customers and expand my services.

How do you figure out how to brand yourself and your business? What process did you go through to figure out the best branding to ensure success within your field?

I think the first step is to be yourself. You always want to be perceived as genuine and trustworthy – and that starts with just being you. Then you should look at your interests and skill set. What kind of projects do you want to take on? What do you want to be known for? Finally, think about your ideal client. Once you understand what types of services or products you want to offer and the type of client you want to work with, you’ll have a clear picture of your business’s brand.

When you’re helping small business owners, what seem to be the most common frustrations and concerns when it comes to getting organized?

Small business owners often become overwhelmed with the order of operations. When I coach new professional organizers, I work with them to decide what needs to be done first, second and third. This helps to streamline the process and bring out their uniqueness.

In your observation, what do you think are the biggest areas that freelancers struggle with when it comes to organization and time management? What can they do better?

A lot of freelancers struggle with having to do everything themselves. It’s a time-management nightmare. Replying to email, seeking out continuing education opportunities, writing, advertising, managing the finances, filing, networking – the list is endless and it’s just too much for one person. The most successful new professional organizers realize they can’t do everything and they hire experts to help.

To better manage time:

  • Set office hours (and stick to them). Don’t make yourself available 24/7, and make sure your clients understand they should not expect an immediate response from you every time they call or email.
  • Have a private mobile phone number. Keep one phone for personal use and another for business. This will help set boundaries and make it easier for you to disconnect from your organizing business to spend time with friends and family.
  • Create an annual wish list. Make long-term goals and revisit them every quarter. Be flexible; what was urgent in January may be irrelevant by September.

Follow Geralin on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.