What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
I like to have a phone consult with a potential client first to find out a little more about what prompted them to seek help, the area causing the most stress and what their ultimate end result would look like. It's good to get to know each other a bit. Letting someone new into your personal space requires a level of trust, and even more so when that person will be working with you and your personal belongings. So it's very important that you, the client, feel comfortable with the professional organizer you hire.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
In my previous career I was a training manager, instructing large and small groups in time management, leadership, customer service, etc. My most enjoyable training moment was when I taught a 65 year old woman how to use Microsoft Word - from turning on the computer to writing a letter to her son. She was so proud to show him a few tricks even he didn't know! Better yet, her new skills helped her keep her job.
~ I am a professional member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) and am involved in a chapter, special interest groups and annual conferences. NAPO offers a tremendous amount of training and I taken over 30 classes and webinars on the topic of organizing.
~ Residential Organizing Specialist (NAPO) - 8 classes
~ Workplace Productivity Specialist (NAPO) - 8 classes
~ I earned a CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) through the Project Management Institute. Although I had experience managing projects throughout the years, I wanted to learn more.
~ Last year my goal was to read a book a week (non-fiction). I met that goal and am on track for this year too. Many of these books are on organizing. This has been transformative!
Do you have a standard pricing system for your service? If so, please share the details here.
I charge an hourly rate with a four hour minimum as much more can be accomplished with a dedicated block of time. I offer several packages for those who would like ongoing assistance or a larger block of hours. And for those who are hesitant to let someone into their home and/or want a smaller time commitment, I offer "virtual" organizing. That's right! I can help you by phone, one hour at a time.
It is difficult to quote on a an organizing project because so much depends on the scope of the project, timeline, and most importantly, the decision-making speed and motivation of the client. Professional organizers do not (should not) make decisions on what gets tossed or donated. We make recommendations and give guidance, but the final decision rests with you, the client.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
As with most professional organizers, I had different careers prior to discovering that such a field existed. But I was an organizer early on. In my teenage years, whenever my parents left the house for a few hours, I would rearrange the furniture (now referred to as staging). They usually left it as is! During my college internship I reorganized my director's filing system. All my jobs from then on required a good deal of organizational skills prior to and after technology.
Several years ago I helped a friend with severe ADHD and some hoarding tendencies organize his homes and make them functional. This was very rewarding to me. But what really inspired me to make this a career was the work I did for my elderly parents. I coordinated a large home renovation which required interviewing over 43 contractors for 12 different projects from new flooring, interior painting, roof repair, door and window replacement, a total kitchen renovation and more. This required relocating my parents to a hotel for two separate weeks while I totally cleared out their home and coordinated contractors. Then I had to sort through and bring some things back in. The rest? Well, it's on ongoing process to go through boxes of items on tables in one half of the garage.
The good thing is my mother and I still speak ;) and both she and my father get to enjoy their "new" home before downsizing in the future. We live in different parts of the country and so I make periodic trips to visit and help with organizing and discarding.
What I learned from this experience is that it is VERY hard to go through family items with... your family. It takes a lot of patience and understanding of generational differences. Baby boomers and earlier generations tended to save, reuse and repair. Later generations don't necessarily want, or have room for all that stuff! My own daughter has reminded me of that too. Downsizing requires a change in mindset.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Working professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, stay-at-home professionals/parents.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
Clearing out a young professional's bedroom and closets. During our initial phone conversation it sounded like her main priority was her living room and kitchen. But after a walkthrough of her home, it was clear her bedroom needed attention so she could get some much-needed rest. We finished in four hours having removed bags of clothing for donation, a friend swap, dry cleaning, etc. What was left was a clean and "less busy" sanctuary.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
~ Be motivated and ready for change and clear on the end results you want.
~ Choose a professional you feel you can have a good working chemistry with - someone you feel comfortable speaking your mind and sharing your challenges with.
~ Most organizer ask clients NOT to clean up or purchase organizing tools, bins, etc. in advance of the first visit. It's important we see your "reality" so we can help.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
~ If you have a specific time frame in mind for the work to be done, let them know and ask about their availability.
~ If insurance and/or bonding is important to you, ask if they can you provide you with proof.
~ Ask what type of organizing work they specialize in, and what type they do not do.
~ If your project involves a hoarding situation, ask if they are experienced in that type of work. If you are not sure if your project falls into that category and are hesitant to ask, you can learn more discreetly by doing an internet search for "Clutter–Hoarding Scale.”