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Professional Organizers

MHome is in a constant state of disarray and I think I could use the help of a professional organizer. What exactly does this service entail?

Getting organized is a process that involves many steps to achieve a successful outcome. First, a professional organizer will conduct an assessment with you to determine the current state in the home and what your organizing goals are. For example: How many people live in the home? What are the areas of distress? Is mail constantly being misplaced? Are bills paid late? Does it take forever to find the clothes you want to wear each morning? What systems are in place (or not)? What is your budget for purchasing necessary organizing materials? What would an organized space look and feel like to you?

With a thorough assessment, the organizer creates a plan and develops systems that fit you, your family and your lifestyle. The plan becomes the foundation for the organizing work, which is broken down into distinct steps. The first is sorting, separating items into like categories. Then the purging process begins where decisions to reduce, recycle or reuse are made. An organizer is trained to assist with the more difficult decisions associated with letting items go. Once remaining items are determined, an organizer helps with identifying the best location to store them and the appropriate storage to contain them. Finally, with an organized space and customized systems in place, establishing a maintenance routine to keep things in order is easier to accomplish. A professional organizer helps turn the chaos into calm to create an environment that supports the life you desire in your home.

Submitted by Barbara Bougher, Certified Professional Organizer® and Coach, Divine Order

So much of my “clutter” is actually very sentimental to me. Will a professional organizer be sensitive to this?

My grandma had a vast collection of angels given to her by friends and family and collected from her travels around the world. She had them numbered and cataloged and displayed them proudly every Christmas. She died more than 20 years ago and I remember our family agonizing what we were going to do with all of grandma’s angels. It was painful to think about giving them away. So my mom packed them away to deal with when it wouldn’t be so difficult. Had my parents not had the space to store the angels, and many other possessions, their house would have been a cluttered mess or they would have paid for storage.

It is normal to hold on to meaningful items. An organizer is a person you can trust to work with you through the emotional process, not against you. I recommend interviewing several organizers before committing to one you find online. Organizers have different personalities and approaches and you want to find one who you work well with.

You can work with an organizer or on your own to begin your de-clutter goal. If you aren’t ready to purge, take pictures of your items and put things in question boxes. You’ll have the pictures to look at if needed and the items won’t be far, packed away safe and dry. After six months take another look at the items and make choices whether to keep or give away the items.

Submitted by Libby Denehie Wyatt, Professional Organizer, THIS END UP

What questions should I ask a professional organizer before hiring one? What qualifications should he or she have?

The first questions actually begin with you. Why have you reached out for help with disorganization – what is your overall goal? Do you have specific areas that you struggle with or is the problem more generalized? Do you need to find someone that specializes in chronic disorganization or time management? Knowing the “type” of professional organizer you may need, before you start the interview process, can quickly help you narrow down your choices.

Two great websites to review are the National Association of Professional Organizers, NAPO, (www.napo.net) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, ICD, (www.challengingdisorganization.org). Both offer information that pertains to the more specific attributes of professional organizing. The area a professional organizer specializes in and the certifications they hold are just a few examples of what you may find there. There is also a “search” feature located on the main page to help locate a professional within your area.

Once you have decided on a few candidates, prepare some written questions to ask, such as: Where did they receive their training? Do they hold any certifications? How long have they been in business? Are they insured and bonded? Do they offer references? How do they charge? How many people are on site during a session? Many professional organizers offer a no-cost consultation to help answer these questions. With just a little research and directed questions, you will be on your way to finding the right professional organizer for you.

Submitted by Leslie Howard, Certified Professional Organizer, Chronic Disorganization Specialist, Streamline by Design

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