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Hiring a professional

When do you know it’s time to call a professional organizer? I used to think of my profession as a luxury expense, akin to a personal exercise trainer. But very quickly as I worked in the business of helping others get their homes and offices into order, I saw some amazing transformations. Suddenly many of my clients were making more money, traveling more, enjoying their families more, and entertaining at home more.

You know you need organizational help when the cost of being disorganized outweighs the cost of the organizing service. It’s as simple as that. I’ve had CEOs call me in to organize employees to boost productivity. Clients working from home see huge benefits in creating organizing systems that separate work activities and space from family activities and space as much as possible. Sometimes the costs are more psychological, which is the case for someone whose home has been so disorderly that they no longer have company. As with any valuable service or possession, the cost is eventually forgotten but the joy remains.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a professional organizer who may charge $45 to $150 or more per hour, depending on their experience, then a friend, family member or colleague may be able to help — if they are able to be objective and non-judgmental. However, the point of getting outside help is to shift your perspective as well as pitch in physically, and someone who has an emotional attachment to the stuff or the space, such as a spouse, grown children or even a good friend, usually can’t offer the objectivity requirement.

There are many benefits beyond objectivity that make hiring a professional a good value. Since he or she is being paid, a good organizer will hold the space and watch the clock for you to keep you focused and on track. On the flip side, since you will be writing the check, you are also more inclined to stay present and get the job done. Most of my clients won’t even answer the phone when we are working together so that they get the full value of their time with me.

You will also get better value from the items and services you already have. If you have a cleaning service, you will be amazed at how thoroughly they are able to clean once the clutter has been cleared and both floor and horizontal surfaces are exposed.

Even allergies will show improvement as significant dust is finally uncovered and cleared. You’ll find manuals you need for tools and gadgets you haven’t been able to use, parts to items you need to fix, important information you’ve been missing and — I see it all the time — checks or cash that you didn’t know you had.

All that said, there are times a professional organizer will not be a good investment. If your significant other is against the idea, you will not have the support you need to be successful.

If you are not 100 percent ready to let go of clutter and install and maintain new systems and habits, you will be wasting your money. If you are in a transition, such as a child getting ready to leave for college or if you are in the middle of a divorce or if you have recently lost a spouse and are still deeply grieving, it is not the time to call an organizer.

Wait until you are back in a normal routine and a less emotional state of mind. Then an organizer can get a much better “read” as to who you are and can help you move forward.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to houseinorder.com or call 738-4346. Like House in Order on Facebook for more organizing tricks and tips.