The Easiest Way to Organize Your Life

Cluttered closets? Check. File cabinets filled to the brim? Double check. Don’t have time to create the neatly ordered life you crave?

You’re ready to hire a professional organizer to help you organize all your stuff, arrange it, and, in some cases, get rid of it. But how?

If only life were more like TV. You’d be whisked off to the Caribbean, while someone magically re-ordered your things and tossed your junk.

The reality is, getting out from under clutter is as much about you as it is about your things. A good organizer needs to understand how you think, what’s important to you, and what your goals are. So it’s essential to hire a pro who’s the right fit: someone you can trust, who’s nonjudgmental, and who will offer a variety of solutions for your lifestyle and needs.

How do you vet and choose the best candidate?

Of course you’ll ask for recs from friends or other professionals in your life. (Even your real estate agent might know someone.) And once you have some names, make sure they’re members of the National Association of Professional Organizers. You can also search NAPO for organizers by zip code and specialty.

Here’s what to do next:

Get on the phone. To find out if you’re in sync, interview a few organizers on the phone. Many have a distinct philosophy, such as being green or taking a minimalist approach. Now’s the time to make sure your values are compatible. And don’t be shy about taking up someone’s time and then not hiring them. Most organizers enjoy hearing about clutter situations—and they want a good fit as much as you do.

Lay out the issues. Whether it’s clearing clutter, maximizing a small space, setting up a home office, or coming up with systems to help someone who is dealing with a challenge like ADHD or hoarding, most pros are happy to tell you whether their skills are a good match for your problem. If not, they can refer you to a colleague who has what you need.

Talk process, pricing, policies. Most organizers charge by the hour because project length is influenced by the extent of each client’s clutter. But prices can range from less than $100 to $150 an hour, so you can also explore a flat fee for a single project.

Ask how the person works. Do you need to set aside a whole day? How much interaction will you have? Organizers are…organized, so they can typically accommodate your schedule.

Expect complete confidentiality. Any organizer should guarantee that all aspects of your situation will be kept strictly confidential. After all, nothing’s more personal than having a near-stranger go through your piles. But don’t be embarrassed by your chaos. After all, you’re doing something about it. And that’s money well spent.

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