What To Know Before Hiring A Professional Organizer For Your Home

Deciding to hire a home organizer is a big deal and can even induce anxiety. Whether it's the costs, the length of time the project might take, or the sheer fact you'll have a stranger in your personal space, it certainly takes courage to make a call and get the process started. On top of that, you want to make sure whomever you hire is professional and will perform quality work at a reasonable rate.

Organizing your home isn't always top of mind or a priority, so it's common to put it off for a while. However, according to the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals, simplifying this work can significantly improve your life. Case in point: Clutter can lead to unnecessary stress and inefficiencies, affecting both your personal and workplace relationships.

If you've been thinking about hiring someone to help declutter your space and set up systems to make you feel more in control, that's an excellent place to start. But where do you go from here to avoid being overwhelmed or choosing the wrong expert? Here are five things you need to know before hiring a professional organizer for your home.

Know your why

If you're thinking about hiring a professional organizer, first ask yourself whether it's necessary. Feeling pressure from your mother-in-law? Trying to keep up with the Joneses? Then it might not be the best solution.

However, if clutter and disorganization are affecting your and other family members' lives, it makes perfect sense. A good rule of thumb, as the Better Business Bureau puts it, is if you feel as though the issue is more than you can handle on your own, then it's time to ask for help.

Perhaps a bedroom needs some tender love and care. Or, maybe the entire house from top to bottom needs an overhaul. If you find yourself in disagreement with your partner or kids over the messiness, are constantly running late because you can't find your car keys, or waste your hard-earned money buying things you already have but can't find, all signs point to asking for help.

Having a clear idea of why you'd like to hire a professional organizer will make the process of finding the right one much easier. This way, you can openly communicate your needs when vetting candidates and pinpoint who can actually help you where you need it most.

Research who's in your area

Once you've figured out your "why," it's time to do some research. Asking your friend group or hopping on social media may turn up some excellent word-of-mouth referrals. Those methods can make you confident in whom you ultimately hire since you know they did right by someone you know.

However, your needs and goals could be vastly different from those of your friends and neighbors, so it's important to assess your options. The good news, per the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals, is that the association has approximately 4,000 members worldwide. While organizers aren't required to join, chances are there are some in your immediate area.

These professionals also tend to have certain specialties, whether that be working with people who have ADHD, hoarding tendencies, decluttering issues, and more. Thus, you'll want to take note if you're in a similar situation. There may be a particular service in their online portfolio that stands out to you. Or, perhaps their website bio might speak directly to you and make you feel better understood. But if they don't work in your area of town, check to see if they offer a virtual service.

Whatever draws you to specific organizers is a good place to start. Once you have a list of names to contact, take note of their rates and make some comparisons.

Understand rates and your budget

There's no way around it — hiring a professional organizer is an investment. The key word, however, is an investment because the time, stress, and money they can save you in the long run may very well be worth the initial price.

According to Thumbtack, organizers charge either by the hour or project, and fees can range significantly. Pricing is generally based on their level of experience. Some charge consultation fees, while others offer complimentary appointments. Another thing to consider is add-on services, such as shopping for supplies, dropping off donations, and handling off-site space design. These are all important points to bring up in your initial call with a prospective organizer if they haven't discussed them already.

Once you have an overview of costs, compare your options to your budget. Just like any home renovation or improvement project, stick to a certain dollar amount and try not to exceed it. While this work might not exactly give you the same return on investment compared to a complete bathroom model, it will improve the overall look of your home, especially during an open house if you plan to sell.

Realize what your organizer will or won't do

Similar to organizers having different areas of expertise, many will offer distinct types of services. The primary job of a professional organizer, per Thumbtack, is to help clients declutter their homes and establish systems to keep them neat long term. Almost every organizer you come across will perform these two tasks.

Some may provide other related services, such as listing and selling items, cleaning, event planning, or running errands. Of course, it's a good idea to know before hiring someone which types of services and add-ons they provide. And, just as important, what they don't. Now, say they don't have the ability or means to help you pack for a move, but you want to hire them to declutter your home in advance. If so, ask if they can recommend a list of movers.

Many organizers work in tandem with other businesses, such as paper shredding and junk removal companies, that they know and trust. Additionally, some like to work hand in hand with their clients, while others prefer less involvement. Depending on your learning style, which we'll talk about next, this is essential to know before officially hiring someone.

Know what's expected of you

Just like hiring a personal trainer, you'll need to put in the work to ensure you see results. While it might not be through physical exertion, as organizers tend to do all of the heavy lifting, you'll usually need to give your time, attention, and mental energy before, during, and after the project.

Prior to getting started, it's your job to paint the picture of your desires and needs, so they can understand how to better help you. During the decluttering process, they will undoubtedly ask if you want to keep or donate almost everything they touch. Be prepared to make decisions, but know a good organizer will gently guide you with an unbiased approach. After all is said and done, it's up to you to maintain the organization they created by putting things back where they belong and refraining from owning more stuff than space.

Now, if you're looking for lifelong results, the more involved you are in the process, the better. As the American Society of Professional Organizers advises, it's best to hire someone who will help you sustain the work they've done. As such, make sure you're able to keep up with the organizational systems they've put into place. If things get hairy again, there's no reason to worry, as many professionals offer maintenance sessions to get you back on track.