After many years of unrealized New Year's resolutions and failed attempts to get organized on your own, you
have decided to really make it happen by hiring a professional organizer. After all, people hire personal fitness
trainers, life coaches, and image consultants to help them achieve their goals. Why not seek professional help
in getting and staying organized? You will be amazed at how quickly your dreams of living and working in an
orderly, and clutter-free environment will become your new reality.
Finding and hiring a professional organizer is no different than choosing any other service professional. The
"right choice" for you will be a professional organizer who has the expertise, skill set, and personality that best
suit you and your goals. Consider the following issues before making the first call.
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. For example, some organizers prefer to work with corporate rather than residential clients; some specialize
in creating custom filing or wardrobe fittings; others may specialize in preparing for moves 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).
Where should you begin your search?
By using NAPO’s Professional Organizer Directory, you can search for a professional organizer by type of service,
distance from your location, or both. Another resource is the local Yellow Pages or some other variation of area
telephone listings. The headings vary from city to city, but one of the more commonly used headings is
"Organizing Products and Services."
How do you interview professional organizers and decide who is right for you?
You should speak to several professional organizers before choosing one to work with. This can be done easily
by telephone or email. If you prefer to meet in person before making a decision, note that some organizers offer
free consultations, some charge for the consultation and credit that fee toward services if hired, and others charge
totally separately for assessments and services.
What fees should you expect to pay?
With most professions, fees vary widely based on experience, geographic location, and competition. Many
professional organizers charge by the hour, while others prefer to value-based pricing and charge by the project.
Some will give you options. You will need to establish a budget and decide what feels most comfortable to you.
Avoid choosing a professional organizer strictly by price. Instead, focus on value by finding an organizer with a
personality you click with and a skill set that matches your needs. That person is most likely to deliver the results
you expect in the shortest amount of time.
What questions should you ask?
One of the first questions you should ask is whether the organizer is a member of the National Association of
Professional Organizers (NAPO). Of course, NAPO membership does not guarantee the quality of the professional
organizer's work, but it does demonstrate a commitment to continuing education and an industry code of ethics.
Other professional associations directly related to the organizing industry include Professional Organizers in
Canada (POC), the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), and the Australasian Association of Professional
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 want to get to know you, understand your
objectives, and determine whether they will be a good fit for you. It is in your best interest to be as candid and
clear as possible about what you want to achieve.
Suggested Questions to Ask a Potential Professional Organizer
What kinds of organizing projects do you do?
Who is your typical/usual client?
What services do you specialize in?
Do you have any training or hold any certifications in organizing or related areas (chronic disorganization, coaching,
feng shui, interior design, etc.)?
Can you describe your organizing process/approach (consulting, coaching, hands-on, team organizing,
seminars/workshops, etc.) and describe a typical working session?
How long have you been in the organizing business?
Will I work directly with you, or will you assign an employee and/or subcontractor?
What is your fee structure?
Do you work with a written contract?
What is your cancellation policy?
Can you provide references?
I have tried to get organized before. How will this be different?
Keep in mind that your choice of a professional organizer is not irreversible. Professional organizers should
be nonjudgmental, encouraging, and supportive. They should be good listeners and recommend a variety
of suggestions, alternatives, and solutions to create the system that will work best for you. If you begin
working with a professional organizer and decide along the way that you are not comfortable with his or her
particular style, you are rarely under obligation to continue the relationship. Be sure to let the organizer know
how you feel. More than likely, he or she will be happy to recommend a colleague.