What to Expect When Working with Professional Organizers
Have you ever thought about working with a professional organizer (also known as a home organizer or personal organizer) to get your home and life together, but hesitated because you are nervous about what it will be like? Choosing to work with an organizing consultant is a deep commitment to yourself, to simplifying your life, and to getting organized. It's a significant investment in yourself and your ability to get the most out of life. This article provides notes and tips to help you get a sense of what to expect and how to get the most out of working with a professional organizer. You can also use these tips to help you interview and choose the right professional organizer for you!
Note: Each professional organizer has their own style, so use this only as a guide to help you interview potential professional organizers.
Working with a professional organizer should be a partnership. Professional organizers don’t just provide a set of hands to assist you in rearranging stuff. We provide expertise, recommendations, and ideas on new ways of doing things. In the end, it must be your decision on which new systems and tools to put in place, but your commitment to listen to new ideas and try out new ways of doing things is what will allow you to achieve your goals and experience the rewards! To get long lasting results, you want to choose an organizer who listens to your needs and gives you options to choose from that are designed to work with your style. There is never just one right way to do things.
Getting organized is not just about putting new supplies and systems in place – it also means changing from the inside out as well as from the outside in. As you go through your things, your professional organizer should be able to help you get insight into the beliefs and habits that are contributing to your current state of disorganization and help you replace them with more effective beliefs and habits.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
- Albert Einstein
COMMUNICATION IS CRITICAL
If at any time you feel that you are changing too much, too fast, or you are feeling extremely stressed, you should feel comfortable to stop and share your feelings with your professional organizer in order to make the process as painless as possible for you! Your professional organizer should encourage you to communicate if you are uncomfortable and address any concerns you may have.
ORGANIZING IS AN ONGOING PROCESS
Like losing weight, getting organized doesn’t happen overnight. Some of the changes will happen on the outside, other changes have to happen within you over time. Getting and staying organized is an ongoing process that comes about by makes lots of little changes in the way you do things, in your habits, and most of all, in the way you think and feel about things. Your professional organizer will often start with easier, smaller projects to help you learn how to organize and experience success that builds your confidence. Then you can work up to tackling more difficult organizing challenges.
LETTING GO OF YOUR STUFF
Professional organizers should never dispose of an item without your permission. They will encourage you to part with items you no longer need or use, but not pressure you unduly to dispose of something you truly wish to keep. The final decision is yours. Letting go of too much too soon is counter-productive and can trigger acquisition of more stuff. It's best to let go of the easy stuff first and let go at a rate that feels good to you. As you change how you see and feel about your stuff, letting go should get easier and easier!
BE PATIENT & TOLERANT WITH YOURSELF
No matter how well organized you become, there will be times when you may slip back into old habits. This is natural. The trick is to catch yourself, learn from your mistakes, and get back on track! That is all part of the process of becoming organized. Don’t get caught in the downward spiral of striving for perfection. Pick yourself up, remember your successes, and start again. The most important thing is to not give up and take it one day and one goal at a time. Your organizer should help you understand and prepare for how to deal with backsliding.
COMPASSION FOR YOUR MEMORIES, STORIES & GRIEVING
While going through your things, you may experience a wide range of triggered emotions. Often deep, sometimes painful, emotional memories are stirred up and need to be released as part of making the decision to let a thing go. Some people truly need to tell their stories as part of working through their feelings so they can let things go. Most professional organizers are willing to listen and help you get through your grieving process. Just be aware that this does add to the time it takes to complete a project, and thus will add to your costs. On the other hand, some people just like to talk and get distracted! If you want to save time and money so you can see results quickly, ask your professional organizer to help you stay focused and do your best to not talk too much!
GETTING ORGANIZED CAN BE MESSY!
Many large organizing projects can’t be completed in a single session. Sometimes it may actually look worse before the final stages of organizing are completed.Depending on the project, you may have a few boxes and bins of your stuff in your home between sessions, but once everything is sorted out, the fun part of putting everything away in their new homes will go much more quickly.
Regardless of how it looks, a good professional organizer will ensure that the sorting is done in such a way that you will be able to find anything you need within a few minutes while sorting is in progress. You should also be able to easily move the containers of sorted items out your way and function easily till the job is done. Remember, as with any home improvement project, it WILL be worth it when it’s done! Sticking with it till the project is complete will ensure you get the maximum value for your investment!
Most professional organizers will give you the option to reduce costs by giving you a list of assignments to complete between sessions.
FOLLOW UP BETWEEN SESSIONS
On large projects, most professional organizers will provide some complimentary support via email or phone. Be sure to ask your professional organizer about this.
When looking for a professional organizer in your area, look for someone who has demonstrated commitment to their own learning and professional development by joining a professional association. Professional associations provide training and guidance to help member professional organizers give you the best possible service. Check out the referral systems on both www.napo.net and www.nsgcd.org to find a dedicated professional organizer near you.
© 2007 Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed.
Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed, Coach, Author & Blogger is the founder of www.NeatandSimple.com professional organizers and www.LotusBridge.com: Coaching and Learning Resources. As a Life, ADHD and Organizing Coach, she specializes in working with creative people, ADD and the chronically disorganized. She guides people in clarifying priorities, gaining insight, setting up systems, and making the difficult decisions needed to conquer clutter, change habits, and take charge of their lives. She is the author of the home office organizing book "Neat & Simple Guide to Organizing Your Office", and the popular organizing and decluttering blog, Neat & Simple Living.
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