Organizing a home is hard work that some people just don’t have the time, energy, or patience for. (And that’s okay!) Maybe you work a high-profile job, and your schedule is consistently packed with meetings, conferences, and after-hours tasks to take care of. Or, you might find that organization doesn’t come particularly easy to you, despite your best efforts. Why not hire someone whose job it is to help you live and operate in clutter-free peace?
With a wealth of experience and the ability to look at your belongings with a neutral eye, a professional can easily take your worst mess and get you organized. Professional organizers offer incredibly helpful solutions for people who find that life— and specifically their physical space— makes them feel overwhelmed. This could be any area in your home, from the basement where odds and ends get dumped to the bedrooms and bathrooms your family uses on a daily basis.
So if you’ve been curious about hiring a professional organizer to help you declutter, downsize, or simply get your home back in order, we’re here to help. This comprehensive guide will discuss exactly what a professional organizer does, how they can help you, and how to work collaboratively for the best results.
What is a Professional Organizer?
A professional organizer is more than someone who has a knack for cleaning. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), organizers use their expertise and tested principles to create customized organization systems for their clients. More specifically, a professional organizer won’t just declutter your closet, junk drawer, or bathroom cabinets once. They’ll teach you helpful and intuitive organizing skills to help you regain control of your environment and help you form long-lasting habits to keep your life running smoothly.
A professional organizer can help with a variety of tasks, including:
- Closet design
- Space planning
- Paperwork management
- Cross-country or out-of-state moves
- Record management
- Goal setting
- Time management
Something to remember: A professional organizer differs from a professional cleaner. Someone who cleans your house will come in for a couple of hours, tidy up your things, and then they will leave. A professional organizer, on the other hand, will come into your home and help create solutions to tackle your immediate organizational concerns. Afterward, they will work with you to develop long-term strategies so you can achieve success in this area for years to come.
Why should I hire a professional organizer?
It makes sense to call a professional organizer if you are a chronically disorganized person or lack the time to deep clean and organize your home. But many find that a professional organizer can also help in various other circumstances.
A few valid reasons to call in professional organizing help can include the following:
Life Changing Events
Throughout the course of life, situations change. People move, get married, start families, take care of aging parents, and much more. These events bring new responsibilities— and stuff— into your life. Hiring a professional organizer, even for just a few hours, can help you reorganize your life to fit your new circumstances.
New to the whole working-from-home thing? Maybe you’ve been a remote worker for years but still have trouble containing your work life to one desk or room in your home. Whether you have a new home office or simply need to regain control of your personal records, a professional organizer can help you sort through, centralize, and cull your paperwork. They can also help you set up a system for document retention that will keep your paperwork manageable going forward.
Speaking of working remotely, if you work from home, you already know how important it is to keep designated spaces for working and living. Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to live in a home with enough space to create a designated home office that no one else uses. In such situations, a professional organizer can help you create an area where you can get your work done without infringing on the busy living spaces in your home.
If you are making structural or remodeling changes to your home— adding a room, redesigning the kitchen, changing a child’s room into a hobby room or office (or vice versa)— a professional organizer can help optimize your design before you begin to streamline the process. By making suggestions for things like shelving and storage containers and by teaching you how to get the most out of your existing space, an organizer truly helps you work and live more effectively.
Where to Find a Professional Organizer
One of the most reputable places to find a qualified professional organizer is the NAPO website. This database contains numerous professional organizers and productivity consultants, and it allows you to search for people located near you. The NAPO website also provides Certified Professional Organizers (CPOs), industry leaders who have met certain customer care and qualification standards.
Professional organizers looking for new clients may also place ads in local newspapers, classified ads, or even on sites like Craigslist. Or, you might find a professional organizer through their own personal website, where you can read customer testimonials, learn about fees, and see what services are available.
Another great way to find a professional organizer is to simply ask the people around you. You might be surprised at how many people in your circle of friends have used professional organizers or at least know someone who has used one before. Personal references from people you know can sometimes be the best resources to help you find the right person for the job.
Important Safety Note: No matter how you go about finding a professional organizer, make sure to do your due diligence. Ask for references and make phone calls to previous and current clients. You’ll be inviting this person into your home, so take the time to ensure that it’s someone you can trust.
What to Look For When Hiring a Professional Organizer
Once you decide to hire a clutter coach, it’s time to find the best one for your needs. By understanding what a professional organizer can do for you and your specific goals, you can narrow down the list.
You’ll know you have the right professional organizer for you because they will embody all of the following characteristics:
Trustworthy. It goes without saying that you must be able to trust your organizer. Depending on your goals, your organizer may handle sensitive documents or become privy to personal situations to help find long-term solutions. The organizer will be making suggestions on how you live your life, so it needs to be someone you have confidence in.
Non-Judgmental. Many times, the reason you need an organizer is embarrassing or sensitive. Don’t worry: Most organizers have seen homes in a wide range of disarray. (Your situation isn’t unique, even if you feel it might be!) Your organizer should be non-judgmental about your circumstances and be able to make suggestions to you in a way that doesn’t feel threatening or condescending.
Collaborative. Because your organizer will be developing a system that works for you, their listening skills must be exceptional. Understanding how you ended up at this point can help the organizer pinpoint negative habits and make a plan to fix them. Your organizer should be able to take in the information you provide about your concerns and your lifestyle to help you create your own personal version of organizational bliss.
Creative. Your organizer should also be able to offer creative solutions specific to your organizational challenges. After all, just because something worked for one client doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for another. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who organizes a certain way simply because that’s how they’ve always done it. What will ultimately work best is a creative, customized solution that meets your specific needs.
Other Helpful Tips When Working With a Professional Organizer
If you plan to use a professional organizer, determine your goals ahead of time so you and the organizer have the same expectations throughout the project. Here are a few helpful tips to guide that process:
Be specific about what you want. Do you need help with one problem area, like an overstuffed guest closet, or help cleaning your entire house? Not only will this help your organizer prepare for the task at hand, but it should also give you an idea of how much money you’ll be spending.
Decide on your budget in advance. Professional organizers charge varying amounts depending on the person and the part of the country where you live, but you can expect to pay about $50-$90 per hour. One cluttered room can take one to three days to complete, depending on how much work needs to be done.
How much control do you want to relinquish? Do you want the organizer to devise a plan that you will execute on your own, or do you want the organizer to help you sort through the clutter? The more specific you are, the more smoothly your project will run.
Is Hiring a Professional Organizer Worth It For You?
From a simple, one-room project to a cross-country move, a professional organizer can help make life easier. Have you ever worked with a professional organizer? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your experience with us on social media.
Updated on 7/17/17 & 7/11/23. Originally published on 4/15/13.