After many years of unrealized New Year’s resolutions and failed attempts to get organized on your own, you have finally decided to take the plunge and hire a professional organizer. And why shouldn’t you? People hire personal trainers, life coaches and image consultants to help them achieve their goals, so is there something wrong with you if you need professional help to get organized? Absolutely not.
You know you will benefit greatly from getting the help you need, yet the process of finding the “right one” might seem confusing and overwhelming. Relax. Finding a professional organizer is no different than hiring any other service professional. You need to know what services you are looking for and hire the person you feel most comfortable working with. Ask the right questions to make sure that there is a good fit. The “right choice” for you will be a professional organizer who has the expertise, skill set and personality which best suits you to help you achieve your goals.
What kind of professional organizing services are you looking for?
Some professional organizers offer a wide range of services, while others limit their practices to a specialized niche. Some organizers prefer to work with corporate rather than residential clients; some specialize in creating custom filing or closet systems while others may specialize in move preparation or organizing collections and memorabilia. There are even professional organizers who specialize in working with clients who are chronically disorganized or have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Once you determine the type of organizing services you are looking for, you are ready to begin your search.
Where do you begin your search to locate the best organizer to work with you?
One of the best places to start is by visiting the Find an Organizer section of the web site of the National Association of Professional Organizers www.napo.net You can search by organizing specialty and geographic location, and you will be provided with a list of names and contact information for professional organizers who match your selected criteria.
Another great place to look for an organizer is your local Yellow Pages. The headings will vary from city to city, but one of the more commonly used headings is “Organizing Products and Services.”
How do I interview professional organizers and decide who is right for me?
Speak to several professional organizers before choosing one to work with. If you prefer to meet the organizer in person before making a decision, some offer free consultations, while others charge for them and credit that fee if they are hired. Others will charge one fee for a client assessment and another fee for service.
What questions should I be asking?
Ask if the organizer is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). While NAPO membership does not guarantee the quality of the professional organizer’s work, it does demonstrate their commitment to continuing education and an industry code of ethics. Other professional associations directly related to the organizing industry include Professional Organizers of Canada (POC) and the National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD).
Other questions to ask include: What services do you provide and what are your areas of specialization? How long have you been a professional organizer? What results can I expect from your service? How long is a typical work session? Who will I be working with? How do you charge for your services? Do you have a contract? Do you have references? Is the work of your company guaranteed?
Your relationship with a professional organizer will be a very personal one. An experienced professional organizer will ask a lot of questions about you, your work style, what you are looking for and the issues you believe have thwarted your best attempts to get organized in the past. They are not being nosy. They want to get to know you, understand your objectives, and determine if there is a good fit between your personalities and philosophies. It is in your best interest to be as open as you can and clear about the results you want to achieve.
What are the fees that I should expect to pay?
As with most professions, you will find that fees vary widely based on experience, geographic location and competition. Many professional organizers charge by the hour ($50 to $200), while others prefer value-based pricing and charge by the project. Some will give you a choice of which option you prefer, so go with what feels most comfortable to you. The most important thing is to avoid choosing a professional organizer strictly by price. Remember that finding an organizer with a skill set that matches your needs and a personality you “click” with is what will provide you with the best value and deliver the results you expect in the shortest amount of time.
It is important to remember that your decision is not irreversible. A professional organizer should be non-judgmental, encouraging and supportive. He or she should be a good listener and recommend a variety of suggestions, alternatives and solutions to create the system which will work best for you. If you begin working with a professional organizer and decide that you are not comfortable with their particular methodology or style, you are rarely under obligation to continue the relationship after the initial visit. Be sure to let the organizer know how you feel and more than likely, they will be happy to recommend a colleague who is better suited to work with you.
If you have been imagining a clutter-free home or office and a desk that you can actually see and use, don’t put it off any longer! By following these simple steps, you can competently and confidently hire a professional organizer and get the help you need. You will be amazed how quickly your dreams of living and working in a functional and clutter-free environment will become your new reality.
Barry J. Izsak, CPO® served as President of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) from 2003-2007,is the author of "Organize Your Garage in No Time" and co-author of "Exploring Productivity." He is a national speaker and founder of ARRANGING IT ALL™ in Austin, Texas. Barry is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO)and a Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS). For more information, visit www.ArrangingItAll.com