Ever come across a Professional Organizer and wonder what they actually do? I am here to tell you!
I am often at networking events or in conversations where the question goes around asking "And what is it that you do?" A small percentage of the population will hear "Professional Organizer" and know what that entails.
Due to the nature of work a Professional Organizer preforms, it is often viewed as a luxury service (tip: it's not! It is very helpful and often necessary for everyone) so many people in the room aren't entirely sure what a Professional Organizer will actually do.
So I would like to take this time to break it down and describe how an Organizer will work for you in your home or business.
What a Professional Organizer Does
First thing we do when a client reaches out, is we need to access if it's a good fit. Not every client will be a good fit for the Organizer and not every Organizer will be a good fit for the client.
For example, if a client reaches out to a Professional Organizer to ask for work to be done in an office or business, that particular Professional Organizer might only work in residential spaces. So before proceeding with the in take call, it is a good idea to access right away if it a good match.
Access the Situation
Next an organizer is going to want to access the situation the client is relaying. More often than not, a client is aware they need help organizing but they may not understand all of the inner workings of how they will achieve their goals. They call or reach out because the situation is out of their ability to handle. Either the job is too big, they need help with ideas, they see the issue and end goal but are unsure of the path or maybe they just don't have the time to do the work and would rather get outside support. In all of these situations, a Professional Organizer needs to be able to pull out of the client what they actually need. If the scope overflows into other areas of the home and how small or large a job might be.
For example, if a client calls to inquire about organizing a living room a Professional Organizer will need to see if items in the living room need to be moved to another area of the home. Perhaps basement or bedroom. Then do those rooms need to be organized or are they ready to receive additional items? Maybe there are things that need to go into the living room that aren't currently there since they are being used in another space.
Because of the nature of how we live and move about our homes, we overlap rooms and their functions. We find items in various parts of our home for the time when we needed them and then get swept up in the day that they sometimes don't go back.
Form a Plan
Once the organizer and client have agreed it to be a good fit, the Organizer will need to define the scope and form a plan of action. There are many ways an Organizer can get the scope of the project. Some do virtual consultations, phone calls, in-person, or ask the client to send photos/videos of the space. The end result is the same, there needs to be a plan that both the client and Organizer can follow to get the job done.
This allows the client, for probably the first time, to review their home, the issues and their end goals. They are also able to add or edit anything they want to make sure their vision is coming life.
Getting Down to Work
A plan is formed but without action it isn't worth much. A Professional Organizer will need to set up times and a schedule with the client to come back and start doing the organizing and sometimes decluttering work.
Many Professional Organizers will do this phase differently. There is no right or wrong way that it can be done and since each client is different and has unique needs, there isn't a cookie cutter approach here either. But some Organizers will do the work without the client there. The sorting and putting things away. Where other Organizers will do the work with the client, or maybe start the work with the client to get an idea of how things should be done. Again, either is fine!
I tend to do my sessions with the client and their family if the families will be accessing the spaces as well. This is because what might not seem sentimental to me could actually be a really important items for the client. And although I would never suggest to a fellow organizer to throw things away without the client's approval, it is just a good idea to be doing the work with them.
Going at Client's Pace
Whenever work is preformed, it should always be done at the pace of the client and how they process their emotions as things come up. Of course every situation is different and will have its own challenges but giving space for the client to work through any emotions that come up to the surface as the organizing is happening is really critical. This is a big component to ensuring that the processes and systems that an Organizer puts in place, actually work and are functional for the client and their family.
For example, I have often worked with clients who find items that have a large sentimental attachment to. This could be the tokens from a spouse who has passed or a close friend. When we encounter these items, to everyone else they look like just that item. But to the client, a rush of memories and emotions flood back in. A Professional Organizer needs to make sure the client is given space to feel the feelings and then make a decision about what to do with the item.
Implement Tailored Solutions
Again not every client will need the same approach to organization. The solutions and systems a Professional Organizer brings to the client should be as unique as the clients themselves.
This is a great example I share to clients when they approach me and what the exact same organizing system they've seen on TV. Some of my clients are partners and when you drill down and look at how you each function, you might be surprised to find that you are polar opposites. Some people like to take their medication or daily vitamins in the kitchen. Some people like to take them in the bathroom. Whereas some like to have them stored in a linen closet. And this is just for medication! Everyone will require their own curated system and an Organizer's job is to find and implement the correct one.
Creating a Plan
The worst thing is to spend all the time and energy to declutter and get organized only to find that the client falls back into the same bad habits. Your Professional Organizer should never leave after the work is done without first giving the client a plan of action on how to maintain the space! That means an action plan and depending upon the client and their needs, you guessed it! This too will look differently for everyone.
Now this is plan is not the same thing as you and your Professional Organizer finding out that you want to work for a longer period of time. The client might decide that it is best and that they will engrain the suggestions if the Professional Organizer does sessions over a period of months or years. That is perfectly fine. But at the end of all the work, the client should be able to walk away and feel confident that they can keep up the work and get back to organized at any time!
A common theory in the Professional Organizing world is backsliding. This is what happens when a Professional Organizer has come, done the work and then leaves. There will always be some degree to which the client "backslides". This is similar to a new home settling after it's built. It's not good or bad, it is just something that happens as the client settles into their new life.
A few more thoughts on what a Professional Organizer does and some final thoughts.
Skills an Organizer should have
Flexibility! If a client changes their mind on anything, the Professional Organizer should be able to pivot and adjust to changes in the circumstances or ideas a client has. Beware that too many changes might draw out the process and should not be used as an avoidance tool to not accomplish any work.
A network of contacts. Some clients need additional support for their project that a Professional Organizer might not be qualified to do. An Organizer should be able to provide the client with a few vetted options that can fit their needs.
I hope this helps you all and you learned a little bit more about what a Professional Organizer does. Stay tuned for another episode where I share all of the things a Professional Organizer does not do!