Professional organizer finds a place for everything

GULF COVE — Debra Bell likes to live an organized life — so much so that she wants to share what’s worked for her with others.

As a professional organizer, Bell started All About Organizing U, specializing in prioritizing needs, sorting and efficiency for the home and business.



Bell, who holds degrees in business and accounting, worked as an accountant for many years and decided one day she didn’t want to work behind a desk.

“I’ve always been organized,” Bell said. “If you have to search all the time, it’s a waste of time and money.”

When she meets clients, she first assesses their needs.

She may spend days at a home depending on the situation and the client.

“I’ve had parents who are too ashamed of letting anyone over because of the condition of their home,” Bell said. “You have to find out what it is (that’s bothering them).”

When it comes to understanding people’s situations, Bell said some empathy helps.

“When I go to homes, before I talk to them, they apologize,” she said. “They’re ashamed and they don’t want to be judged. You need to help them understand it’s one on one. I’ve had people who just can’t cope.”

It is something that Port Charlotte resident and professional organizer Joann Guariglia can attest to.

“People shouldn’t be ashamed to call,” Guariglia said. “We transfer organizing skills. It’s about helping them transform their space.”

Guariglia was one of a number of professional organizers featured in a 2010 episode of the A&E TV’s popular show “Hoarders.”

Bell too has dealt with hoarders.

“I get calls and emails from hoarders,” she said. “I try to talk to them and reach out.”

Bell gives ideas to clients on storage depending on the items. It can be anywhere from physical to computer files.

“One common thing I see is most people have paperwork issues,” she said. “You should have a recycling bin instead of stacks.”

Bell said the home should be a place to relax. People who work from home sometimes can’t relax because they’re constantly working and items from work tend to be scattered.

“A lot of clients have home offices,” she said. “It’s helpful to have small files in the computer and have small boxes of files to carry around.”

Bell has clients on the Gulf Coast from Tampa to Fort Myers.

Suzie Ostertag often works from home.

“Debra came over for a few days,” Ostertag said. “She did a great job at pointing things out. She did things quickly and efficiently. Before, it was not messy or dirty — just disorganized. Things are dramatically different now. I have a lot more space.”

Ostertag said Bell periodically checks on her.

Mary Anne Cibressy, who works from home, also spoke highly of Bell.

“Things were a complete mess,” Cibressy said. “She scaled down my filing system. She moved furniture around. It’s huge for me to be efficient like that.”

Real Estate broker Amy Hibberd enlists Bell for staging furniture.

Some businesses can be as disorganized as homes, Bell said.

“A lot of businesses need systems where employees are running all over the place … what they need should be within reach,” Bell said.

After her work is done, Bell said her clients feel a sense of accomplishment.

Go to   or call 941-628-4939.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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