You’ve finally decided to get some help tackling that closet or dealing with paper overwhelm. How do you go about finding a Professional Organizer who will meet your needs?
Having been a part of an association of Professional Organizers for many years, both locally and nationally, we have met a lot of organizers. We are struck by the wide range of differences between Organizers. There are varying levels of competencies, there is a tremendous amount of leeway in organizing styles and there are many different approaches to the work. Most important to realize is there really is no “right” way to be an Organizer; the perfect fit for a client comes from a mix of personality, skill sets, and process competency.
What Do You Need & Want?
The easy part is figuring out where in the home or office you need help. Closet design? Kitchen reorganization? Paperwork? Kid’s stuff? The harder part may be knowing who you’ll work best with. Organizing is such personal, sometimes intimate, work that it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what personality types and approaches may work best for you.
Would you like working with someone who:
- Lets you take the lead or is more directive?
- Is high energy or more mellow?
- Has a deeper psychological perspective vs. a “let’s just do it” perspective?
- Can work virtually as well as hands-on?
- Does all the work themselves or has a team of organizers?
An organizer for your closet project may not be the right match for your home office project. An organizer with a background in corporate admin would come at a problem differently than someone who comes from an interior design or counseling background. And then there are differences in rates, policies, and availability to consider. Getting clear on your desires and needs will help to hone in on the right questions to find a good fit for your projects.
Experience Matters, and…
There certainly is value in working with an Organizer with many years of experience, but someone who is newer to the field may have a rich work history which lends itself to organizing. Most people come to this career after having had a significant work or life experience where they used or developed their organizing skills. Just because someone is new doesn’t mean they won’t be capable of handling a project; ask about their work or personal background to determine their approach and skills if you can’t ask for client references.
As our industry has developed, more formal trainings and certifications have evolved. Some Organizers have chosen to go through a professional certification process which requires they pass a test and have met a minimum number of organizing hours (1500 hours within past 3 years). To maintain their certification, they must complete continuing education. These organizers will have a CPO® designation after their name.
How Do I Find An Organizer?
As with most services, word of mouth is the best way to get a great referral in your area – post something on Facebook or NextDoor to ask your friends and neighbors if anyone has a recommendation. Or look for reviews of organizers on Yelp or NextDoor. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals (NAPO) has a searchable database to find member organizers near your zip code: NAPO.net (national search) or NAPO-SFBA (SF Bay Area). NAPO also has a handy hiring guide on their website.
You’ll know you have a successful match when your Organizer’s style and experience blends well with your needs … and you work though projects efficiently and effectively. Remember, there’s no one “right” way to organize!