You really, really tried to become a more organized person. You read the books and the posts; you pinned and saved orderly pantries and closets; you probably even bought a Command hook or two. And yet, nothing worked. Your home is still a mess, your disorganized habits seemly unbreakable. So maybe it’s time to bring in the hired guns, the Marie Kondos of the world who will tutor you in the ways of the streamlined life.
Is this you? If yes, read on to find out what to do and what to avoid when hiring a professional organizer.
1. Do: Look for positive (and trustworthy) references and reviews.
In the era where everyone with an Instagram account is an expert, it can be difficult task to determine who has the real chops. You could ask friends, family members, and your Facebook tribe for recommendations. You could also check out the NAPO (National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals) database, which is searchable by zip code.
2. Do: Ask a lot of questions.
When you find a trusted name, ask a lot of questions advises Jarrett Yoshida, principal Jarret Yoshida Inc. How many years have you been doing this? How do you convince clients to get rid of things? How do you charge?
Amy Tokos, owner of Freshly Organized, Omaha and NAPO President Elect also suggests asking about how scheduling and planning works, what all inclusions are included in the pricing structure, if they have insurance, and what, if any specialized training they’ve completed.
3. Do: Be prepared to go deep.
And we mean deep. A true organizer will question your motivations that made you start storing every mascara ever purchased or your unwillingness to let go of your notes from high school biology.
4. Don’t: Let them run the show.
The client dictates the structure of the sessions, agrees our panel of tidy experts. “The client always defines the goal,’ notes Tokos. “Organizers are there to make recommendations and help get you to that place,” she adds. Make sure you are clear with your needs, requests, and goals.
Also speak up if a solution doesn’t really fit your lifestyle. It may look pretty and be pretty to have a labeled container of spices in your pantry, but maybe you need them more handy. A good—and effective—organizer listens, adjusts, and edits based on your real life, not the Instagram ideal.
5. Don’t: Let them upsell you.
Be wary of a product pushing organizer, warn some experts. “Fancy containers like baskets and wood boxes may be unnecessary,” says Sharon Lowenheim, NAPO board member and owner of Organizing Goddess. “Try to reuse containers that you already own, like shoe boxes or excess kitchenware (e.g., plastic containers or coﬀee mugs.),” she adds.
Tokos agrees: “Most clients already have organizing supplies on hand. Repurposing these can save money and is better for the environment.”