Jill Yesko

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Jill Yesko gives a presentation about organizing during a program held at the Peters Township Community Recreation Center.

Say you’ve accumulated so much, well, stuff in your garage that you haven’t been able to park a vehicle in there this century.

Your issue might not be exactly what you think it is.

“Be very careful when you’re labeling yourself,” professional organizer Jill Yesko said. “You can call yourself a hoarder, and that’s not the right word.”

Jill with book

Jill Yesko founded Discover Organizing Inc. in 2003 to help those in need learn how to create lasting systems of organization.

In her new book, “I’m Right Here: 10 Ways to Get Help for Hoarding and Chronic Disorganization,” the former Mt. Lebanon resident explains the distinctions among various reasons for situations that result in clutter.

“The majority of reasons that people call us here at Discover Organizing,” she said about her Scott Township business, “is about getting out of a situational disorganization that they may be experiencing.”

Such cases generally are tied to disruptions in routines.

“Most of us can kind of turn back the hands of time and get started on our routines again after a situation,” Yesko asserted. “We grieve a loss of a parent, and after a few weeks or a few months, we’re kind of back on our feet. And then we slowly get out of first gear and start living our lives again.”

Other people face far more challenging circumstances.

“Just as the name would denote, chronic disorganization is something that is happening to them every day, and some of them are dealing with comorbidity,” Yesko said, referring to the presence of more than one mental or physical condition.

“We’re keeping their heads above water, so they can pay their bills,” she said. “They can function in their homes. They can have healthy relationships with the people who live with them, because we’re keeping things at a manageable, breathable level.”

Then there is the “H” word.

“People consider themselves hoarders if they have too many purses or if they have too many pairs of shoes, or they have a paper pileup that’s out of control,” Yesko said. “They misunderstand what hoarding is.”

As it turns out, hoarding disorder is a diagnosable mental condition, “which hopefully is going to open a lot of doors down the road for insurance and getting things covered for mental health treatment,” she noted. “We’re already starting to see some inroads with it being taken seriously as a condition that merits much support.”

Yesko said some counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania once had task forces dedicated to hoarding issues, but none currently is in place.

“I would love for my book to be the vehicle that gets up back to the task-force level in our communities, to identify and support those who have this disorder,” she said. “I think the main purpose of the book is to guide people to the right solution for them.”

She outlines 10 approaches in “I’m Right Here,” including the one she believes to be the most effective: collaborate therapy, in which an organizer teams with a therapist on behalf of a client.

A Certified Professional Organizer through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, Yesko and members of her staff usually visit clients to offer assistance personally. That was not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Discover Organizing Inc. became one of the countless businesses that took a major financial hit as a result.

Fortunately, the company’s photo organizing department continued to generate revenue by working with clients such as 84 Lumber and the family of its 98-year-old founder, Joseph A. Hardy III.

“That was remote work,” Yesko said. “It was easy enough for us to pick up photos and memorabilia for 84 Lumber, take it back here, digitize it, organize it, tag it, label it, do the metadata. We also had other clients just dropping stuff off at our front door. Or they would set it out on the porch. We’d pick up big bins of photos.”

Also during the pandemic, BNY Mellon hired Yesko to speak to employees about maintaining productivity while working at home.

“They’re being managed remotely, and all their support systems aren’t there, either,” she said. “They can’t ask somebody a quick question down in the next cubicle. They have to use new technology to message that person to get that answer, and then they have to use task management software that they might not be used to using.”

Although spring normally is when Discover Organizing Inc. is at its busiest, this year’s summer and beyond could prove to be the time when the demand for services picks up again.

“Now that we have a lot of vaccinations,” Yesko said, “we’re hoping that’s going to open up the floodgates a little bit more.”

For more information about “I’m Right Here: 10 Ways to Get Help for Hoarding and Chronic Disorganization,” visit www.imrightherebook.com.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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