Mom Means Business: Sara Skillen of SkillSet Organizing

Tell us a little about yourself, business, and family.

I’m a former teacher, musician, and paralegal, and decided to start my professional organizing business, SkillSet Organizing, back in 2012. I realized that organization was an integral part of everything I had done up to that point, and I wanted to use those skills to help individuals and business owners get control of their surroundings in order to be more successful. My tag line is “Thrive in a distracting world”, because I believe that the society we live in and the myriad choices we face every day can get overwhelming for anyone, leading to organizational and time management breakdowns. I became an Evernote Certified Consultant in 2014, and received my Certified Professional Organizer® designation last fall.

I’ve been married to my wonderfully supportive husband, Jeff, for 20 years (how did that go by so fast!?). We have two children: daughter Cameron, who is 14, and son Wyatt, 11. We are ALL super busy, but we make it a priority to have quality time, sit-down family meals as often as possible, and travel any chance our time and budget allows. I volunteer quite a bit, still play my clarinet occasionally, manage my son’s DestiNation ImagiNation team, read whenever I can, and try desperately to keep some sort of exercise plan going.


At what point in your business did you have children?

I actually started my business after I had children – I realized that they were growing quickly, and weren’t as dependent upon me. I wanted to do something that would allow me to have some flexibility in scheduling, but also give me the opportunity to really help people.


How did that affect the way you run your business?

It always affects the way I run my business, because as I mentioned I want the flexibility to be there for them. I make sure that if they have a particular activity that I need to attend or get them to, I don’t schedule clients during that time. At the same time, I think it’s good for them to see their parents running businesses (my husband is an entrepreneur also), and how we balance work and play. I also sometimes use them as “guinea pigs” (with their permission of course!) to try out organizing techniques that might work with other kids.


What is one trait of yours that you hope your children inherit from you?

Independence. To elaborate on that a bit, I want them to have the confidence to try things vocationally that others might not have the courage to do.


Have your children influenced the work you do in any way?

I think having children gives me great perspective on the lives of busy families. While each situation is different, time management and productivity are important in the home as well as at work, and I can speak from experience when I help people with calendars, schedules, planning, and delegating tasks in the home.


If your children are older, do they ever help you with your business?

My daughter assisted me on a project for one session (with the client’s permission) – she sorted and categorized kids’ craft items for about three hours. When it was over she said, “Wow, that was exhausting. How do you do that every day?”  I guess she’s not going to be my future partner!


I know being a mom and an entrepreneur can be a tough job. How do you treat yourself on special occasions? How do you celebrate the small victories?

I like experiences as rewards – so it might be as simple as a nice glass of wine on our back deck, or as extravagant as taking a long weekend trip to New York City (something we recently did as a family).


What advice would you give to a mom thinking about starting a business or a business owner about to have children?

Well, space ideas always come first to me, so if a mom is going to work from home I would say that carving out a work area JUST for the business is key. You need that separation between work and family life. Trying to work at a kitchen table or the couch with toys, empty plates, the TV, pets, etc. causes too much confusion. If there is a spare room (even if used for a guest room occasionally), that’s perfect. If not, you can get creative with a corner of a room, a small closet, or a loft area at the top of stairs. Take the time to put together what you really need, make it attractive and welcoming, and let your family know that it’s your workspace. When my kids were little and they wanted to play in my office, I kept a basket of toys just for that space, and they knew that they weren’t allowed to drag anything else in. It worked well.


Do you use any tech/apps to keep your life together?

I’m an Evernote Certified Consultant, and I use it for everything from research to travel to blogging to contact management. I’m also a huge fan of Wunderlist for my to – do items. I use the Sunrise calendar app because it syncs with Evernote (and many other things). I’m all Mac, all the time – iPhone, iPad, MacBook, but I do have a Windows laptop to use just with my Evernote customers on that platform.

Where can we follow your story online?

Blog: Sorting Through the Haystack


Twitter: @saraorganizes

Instagram: @saraorganizes



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