Professional Organizer – 4 Questions Answered

I’ve been trying to write about what makes a professional organizer. It can be challenging since there are differing opinions and I want to be as unbiased as possible yet am passionate about it! In many ways I could go on endlessly talking about various aspects, yet I am going to try to cover the points that I think are the most important as well as some of the things to consider.

There are a few questions that I think are worth answering:
* What qualifies someone to be a professional organizer?
* How does someone become a professional organizer?
* Who needs a professional organizer?
* If you are thinking about hiring an organizer, do you know what to look for?

There are varying opinions about some of the details of what makes a professional organizer. Since it is a relatively new profession, there are no qualifications per se. Many people say that what qualifies someone is that they have a talent for helping people get organized. This is undeniably important, who would want to hire a professional organizer who cannot do that? Organizers can come from any background and have different expertise. This leads us to the next question.

Anyone can become a professional organizer. Yes, anyone can. The person down the block can hang up a sign or build a website and proclaim themselves a “professional organizer.” This is one area where I have strong feelings and I wish there were more restrictions and it was not open to just anybody. The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has created a Code of Ethics for members to follow. They also offer classes for training and continuing education. Anyone can pay the membership fee and become a member of NAPO. Most states also have a local chapter of NAPO. Being a member suggests that there is commitment to the profession.

Then we come to, who needs a professional organizer? Anyone who feels that they need or want help dealing with any or all of their spaces can benefit. If someone feels stuck and is having problems completing or even setting up an area, having a professional organizer come in can help get past the difficulty. Sometimes it’s simply wanting someone by your side as you deal with the stuff. In many ways I have to chuckle to myself, since there are apparently many people who think that only “hoarders” need an organizer. A client was telling me how she was raving to her co-workers about working with me. She mentioned that several of them turned to her and asked with shock on their faces, “Are you one of those hoarders?” She apparently tried to explain that you do not need piles of stuff around to benefit from working with a professional organizer. What it comes down to is that if you think you could need assistance, a professional organizer can help, no matter how small or large the struggle.

Now, I think the most important question, what to look for when you are hiring a professional organizer. If you are going to hire a professional organizer, they are going to be standing by your side as you go through your things. This is challenging for most people, and understandably so.

This is why the most important thing to look for when you decide to hire a professional organizer is feeling relatively comfortable with them. If you are likely to feel uncomfortable, this can be hard to judge.

Do you appreciate their philosophy? The blog and/or newsletter can reveal their attitudes and beliefs.

Do you feel like you can relate to them? What are people saying about working with them? This is why most websites have a testimonial page; it gives people insight into other’s experiences working with that organizer.

The more nervous you might be at the thought of having a virtual stranger in your home, the more difficult it can be to be objective. Unfortunately I do not have an answer for that, you need to be ready to take the risk!

I have seen other posts on this very topic. I do not think that having an organizer that gives speeches makes them more qualified. I give speeches, and it is a great way to get out there and share my passion and philosophy, but using that as the basis for hiring me seems too simplistic. Likewise for being involved in the local chapter of NAPO. These things do not make me an expert at coming into someone’s home and helping them to create systems that bring organization. While the qualifications and requirements remain loose, it is that much more important to look for someone who fits your style, personality, and values.

What would you look for – first and foremost?

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