Are you wondering what a Professional Organizer really does?
A Professional Organizer is a versatile and valuable resource but there are also some misconceptions about their services that I hope to clear up. Here's a primer on what they do and don't do.
We are problem solvers.
A real Professional Organizer (P.O.) looks for clues as to the cause(s) of clutter and disorganization. We ask a lot of questions and hope that you do too. We aim to truly understand our clients and help them solve their organizing problems. We figure out what works for YOU and don’t impose our own personal rules and systems on you. We are not judgmental and understand that everyone has their own level of 'normal'.
We are not cleaners.
A P.O. isn’t someone who just tidies up a mess. Unlike a housekeeper or a cleaning service, a P.O. analyzes the sources of clutter, the systems (or lack of) that are in place and the client’s lifestyle. Anyone can just clean up but it takes a Professional Organizer to get to the root of the clutter problem and help keep it from happening again.
We are trained.
We have taken courses, earned certificates, are members of organizing associations and attend meetings and conferences regularly in order to improve our skills and better serve our clients. For example, in Canada we have The Professional Organizers in Canada, and in the U.S. there is the National Association of Professional Organizers and also the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). I am a member of The Professional Organizers in Canada and have earned my Trained Professional Organizer Certificate. I am an ICD subscriber and have taken over 28 courses in Chronic Disorganization and have recently earned my Level 2 certificate in Chronic Disorganization (CD) and CD-Aging. There is so much to know and it has made me a better organizer.
We are not therapists.
While our organizing work involves knowledge of psychology and even many medical and mental conditions, we are not qualified to diagnose or give that kind of advice to our clients. A Professional Organizer works to control disorganization and clutter that some conditions can affect. For those who are chronically disorganized, there may be ADHD that is affecting their ability to be organized, or perhaps a client has had some past trauma which has contributed to a hoarding problem. In some cases, that kind of client may be working with a therapist to address challenges with the “brain function” part of the equation, but a properly trained P.O. is there to help the client organize in a way that works with their lifestyle and condition.
We are specialists.
There are many kinds of Professional Organizers out there. Some specialize in residential organizing; some are business and office experts; some have extra training in working with seniors and others may have specialized in hoarding. It’s important to choose an organizer who has experience and training in the type of organizing that you need. Ask the important questions about the types of jobs that they have had success with; what courses they have taken, are they bonded and insured, and are there any references and testimonials that you can see? You need to feel comfortable with this person who will be handling your personal items and precious memories.
We are not movers
While sometimes some furniture needs shifting or a few boxes of donations taken to a charity, Professional Organizers generally are not going to be hauling bins, dressers, boxes of books or your grandmother’s antique china hutch. If there is going to be some heavy lifting involved, talk to your P.O. and he/she can arrange for some burly men to take care of that part.
We are worth it.
A good Professional Organizer can relieve a LOT of stress and greatly improve the quality of your life. Think about how great it would feel if you could come home at the end of a long day and actually feel relaxed and peaceful. No nagging feelings of guilt when you look at that ugly lamp from your Aunt Edna that you feel obligated to keep. No frustration due to fruitless searches for important papers or keys. No tripping on the stairs to get over piles of “stuff” that somehow accumulated there. It’s a great feeling knowing that your life is in order and stress is under control.
As you can see, true Professional Organizers wear many hats, but most importantly they are professionals. Just as you would hire a licensed electrician to work on your home’s wiring, or a professional plumber to deal with your plumbing issues, a P.O. works on clutter and disorganization and has the knowledge and training to do it well. As the saying goes,
“If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, you should see what an amateur costs”!