An Interview with Mary Dystra Novess of Within Reach Organizing Services Part 1

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mary Dykstra MBA, CPO (Certified Professional Organizer), owner of downloadWithin Reach Organizing Services who has been helping corporate, residential and entrepreneurial clients get organized since 1984.  Her specialities are: Professional speaking, consulting and hands-on corporate, residential and entrepreneurial organizing with special emphasis on home based businesses plus time management training.  She is a long standing member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), teaches time management courses nationally and she earned her Senior Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS) certification.

Mary is passionate about helping her clients regain control of their minds, lives and environments – long term.

In your business, Within Reach, you offer business, residential, home office, ADD & ADHD organizing services. What is your favourite part of organizing?

For me, it’s never about the stuff. It’s about the people. The favorite part of my work is the moment when I see a client’s face and body change as they move from feeling overwhelmed to empowered and confident. The change in the space and within the person is striking and I love the fact that they trusted me and the process.

When organizing residential clients what is one common obstacle and a strategy for overcoming it?

The biggest obstacle I hear from my audiences and future clients is that they don’t know where to start. They do not always use the term ‘overwhelmed’ but that is the common emotional bugaboo that keeps us from decluttering and setting up great functioning systems. The easiest and fastest way to get beyond this is to bring in assistance. For some, that might be an understanding friend who can help with the focus and physically getting things sorted and moved. For others it is hiring a professional organizer who can come in with clarity, and help you create a plan so that either you or they or combination of both can get the work accomplished quickly and effectively.

For those that prefer DYI (Do It Yourself), you can get all kinds of tips and see pictures from YouTube, Pinterest, an organizing book, seminar, a professional organizer’s website/blog etc. Just use the search function in the app or website you prefer. Look at working on one area at a time. If you find this is overwhelming or that you don’t get it done, make that call to a professional organizer or friend. My first recommendation is always a professional organizer if you can afford it because it has the tendency to keep your friendships on a healthier, less stressed level (“What do you mean you want to get rid of this sweater? I remember when I gave it to you…).

What are some of the trends in organizing that have changed from when you started in this field to now? How long have you been involved in organizing?

I have been in the Organizing Industry for over 16 years and a lot has changed. The economy fallout in the USA in 2007/8 made a big impact with people losing jobs, selling homes and downsizing all aspects of their lives. Though the economy has come back for most, the new focus and trends are on wireless/paperless living and living unencumbered lives – especially for the Millennials. The smart phone is decreasing some of our physical clutter but keeping our minds over stimulated and our attention spans suffering. Other trends I see are people moving to reclaimed urban areas to enjoy walkable and social communities, having smaller dwellings (there is a strong interest for some to embrace Tiny House living) and many are forgoing house ownership preferring the freedom that comes with renting and not having money tied up in 1 large asset. The effect is that organizers today need to be much savvier about helping their clients manage electronic information and help clients maximize the utility of confined space.

Also, older adults who are downsizing and simplifying sometimes are unprepared to discover that their children and the marketplace do not value many of the things that they thought were very valuable.  When a client says to me that they are saving something for their adult children or grandchildren, I encourage them to directly ask if those items are indeed wanted by the children. If the answer is no, to let those items go with grace. If the client believes that items should be sold only for a very high price, I suggest getting an appraisal or checking a site like EBay to see if their value expectations are reasonable.

Click to find out more about Mary Dystra Novess and Within Reach


Julie Stobbe, professional organizerJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

Contact her at

Click here to learn more about her online course Create an Organized Home.

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  1. Janet Barclay on March 28, 2016 at 8:40 am

    This is a very interesting interview – can’t wait to read Part 2!

    • Julie Stobbe on March 28, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      Part 2 is coming out next week. She is a very interesting organizer

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