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Should You Hire a Home Organizer?

For some, this may be even more beneficial than hiring an interior designer.

<p>Kostikova/Getty Images</p>

Kostikova/Getty Images

Your home is your castle—it’s the place where you relax, sleep, eat, enjoy family and friends, and for some people, it’s also where you work. But clutter can keep you from fully engaging in any of these activities in a meaningful way.

A disorganized home can be stressful, and result in confusion and chaos. I have friends who won’t shop in certain stores that are known for being in disarray, although that won’t stop me from shopping for fantastic deals! That’s because I’m only spending a few minutes in a disorganized store, and then I can go home to my (usually) structured home. But what happens when you’re coming home to clutter and disarray - and you’re living with it on a routine basis?

A home organizer can help. We’ll help you determine if you need to hire one, explain what they do and how much they charge—along with the process for hiring one. And we’ll also explain who would or would not benefit from this type of service.

Related: 5 Habits to Break if You Want a More Organized Home

Factors to consider

Kim Jones, Louisville, KY-based founder and CEO of Lock and Key Home, and author of the No-Nonsense Home Organization Plan, tells us there are four questions to ask yourself when trying to decide if you need to hire a home organizer:

  • Do you feel calm or chaotic when walking in the door to your home?

  • Do you spend weekends creating memories, rather than tidying up your home?

  • Can you easily get ready in the morning without spending 20 minutes finding the car keys or a missing shoe?

  • Do you have systems in place that make it easy to maintain an organized home?

Depending on your responses, she says it may be time to consider hiring a home organizer. “It doesn’t matter if you are an organized person by nature or someone who has never been organized in their life,” Jones explains. “It is more about finding the time to do the hard work and create systems properly, specific to the members of the household.”

Aside from the clutter and disorganization questions, there are other factors that you should take into account as well to find the right fit. “One factor to consider is the scope of the project: are you decluttering a whole house, certain rooms, or a closet – since prices will vary based on the size of the project,” explains Heather Aiello, CEO and founder of The Organized You.

And then, she says you need to assess whether you would be comfortable working alongside an organizer, or feel comfortable letting them go through your belongings. “This is why finding an organizer you are comfortable with is essential.” Aiello recommends talking with the potential home organizer about their approach to see if it aligns with your goals.

Amelia Pleasant Kennedy, CEO and founder of A Pleasant Solution, tells us there are 5 specific factors that should be considered when you’re thinking about hiring a home organizer.

Specialty

In addition to providing general decluttering and organizing services, Kennedy says some home organizers have specialty areas. “This can include children’s playrooms, closet design, capsule wardrobes, paper management, move management, kitchen and pantries, sentimental decluttering, working with seniors downsizing, or storage spaces, like garages and attics.”

Training

Kennedy recommends looking for an organizer who has invested in their education. “Associations that offer credentialing often require members to adhere to a code of ethics, best practices, and maintain boundaries of safety that benefit both the client and the organizer,” she says.

Three such organizations include:

“Organizers who carry the designation of “Certified Professional Organizer” or “Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization” have invested several years in both education and hours with clients,” Kennedy explains

Scope of project

During the consultation, you can define the scope of your project. For example, Kennedy says you may just want someone to organize your home office and related paperwork – which would be considered one project. But if you also want them to declutter and organize your master bedroom closet, this would be a separate project. “Organizers are trained to work on multiple projects and will often encourage clients to think through all the spaces they desire to organize during the consultation, then break those into a series of visits or projects spread out over several days to several months,” Kennedy explains. “Defining the scope of the project helps the client understand the process, make decisions in a smaller, more manageable way, conceptualize the timeline, and understand how progress is made.”

Timeline

The timeline is important for several reasons. First, Kennedy says professional organizers typically book services several weeks in advance of a project. Reaching out in advance can help you discover availability.

Also, for example, if you’re moving, keep in mind that decluttering and downsizing is considered one stage, and Kennedy says packing and moving is another stage.” An organizer is most likely not going to be able to get you on the calendar last minute, so reach out the moment you know your move is happening.”

Budget

Home organizers have varying prices (which we’ll cover below) and packages, so Kennedy recommends getting an itemized breakdown of what is or isn’t included in the services. “Some organizers charge per hour, others per project – and many organizers have a minimum number of hours or spaces,” she says. “They may offer to bring on additional sets of hands or team members to lessen the amount of time a project takes.”

And here’s something else to keep in mind when you’re budgeting. Kennedy tells us that some home organizers have an “all-inclusive” approach in which the time spent shopping for products and designing spaces is included in the fee. “Others choose to itemize each element of their process and give clients the option of adding these into the scope of a project,” she says. “The cost of organizing products – like containers – is a separate fee from the organizing project/hours.”

What does a home organizer do?

So, what exactly should you expect when hiring a home organizer? The first step is to declutter, according to Jones. “People often hang on to items – just in case – that are taking up valuable space from the items that they love,” she explains. However, Jones notes that it’s much easier to get dressed in the morning if you have a minimalist closet instead of a closet full of clothes.

The next step is to set up the space, based on functionality and create an easy-to-maintain system. “This is really where a trained organizer will differ from having a cleaning person organize, or even if you tried yourself,” Jones explains. They’ll ask a lot of questions about flow and usage of the space. “If you wear business attire 5 days a week, then we will want to create space for that front and center in the closet rather than tucking it away to the side,” she says. “The goal is to make everything as user friendly as possible, so it’s easy for you to just grab what you need.”

After a system has been created, the next step is to provide a designated home for everything that you’re keeping, and Jones says this may also include adding organizational products to the space to contain the various items. “The goal here is that someone off the street will know exactly where to put everything back,” she says. “Labels are the icing on the cake in this step to make it crystal clear where all items belong.” The end product is not only pleasing to the eye, but helps the household flow smoothly and methodically.

The process for bringing a home organizer into your home

The first step in hiring a home organizer usually starts with a consultation to help them understand your needs and timeline. “Some organizers screen clients for fit via phone or virtual Zoom calls (discovery calls) before visiting a client at their home,” says Kennedy. “Organizers may charge for an in-home consultation up front and credit the consultation to the project cost.” Expect the consultation to take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the scope of the project(s).

Several things will occur during the consultation. “The home organizer will invite the client to show them spaces that need support, discuss the client’s vision, identify obstacles, take measurements, and set expectations in terms of timeline and budget,” Kennedy explains.

Here’s something to keep in mind: both Kennedy and Aiello believe it’s very important to hire a person who puts you at ease. “Professional organizers are trained not to judge clients, and if at any point the client feels uncomfortable, they should communicate lack of fit,” says Kennedy.

Next, you’ll get a proposal with an estimation of the cost and a customized plan. Some organizers may also require a down payment before they’ll book the project.

Average costs of hiring a home organizer

When hiring a home organizer, costs can vary based on several factors, including location, specialty, project scope, and experience.

According to Kennedy, clients can expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $250 per hour, on average. She says packaged hours often include a small discount of 5% to10%. “Traveling organizers will charge for flight, hotel, and per diem while on site,” she adds.

Jones says average costs can range from $65 to $350 per hour, and notes that the higher end of the range is usually found in larger cities with a higher cost of living. “If someone quotes you lower than $65 an hour, they are likely not a trained organizer and are probably just going to tidy your things,” she warns. “For a mid-size city, I would expect $85 to $150.”

Admittedly, it’s an investment to hire a home organizer, but Jones says once the system is setup, you won’t have to redo it. “We also offer maintenance programs at discounted rates, as sometimes life happens and things slide, so we can come in and refresh the space.”

Who would benefit from hiring a home organizer?

Several types of people could greatly benefit from enlisting the help of a home organizer. “Busy professionals, families with young children, seniors looking to downsize, or someone who may be going through a life transition such as marriage, new baby, divorce, or loss of a loved one,” says Aiello. In fact, she believes anyone who wants a more organized and efficient space could benefit from this experience.  “Organizers provide non-judgmental support and customized solutions to create a clutter- and stress-free home for you.”

And Jones tells us that busy professionals and families can also reap the benefits. “We work with a lot of extremely organized people, but they don’t have the time or energy to create organized systems,” she explains. “We also work with families that try everything, but can never get it to the finish line and it is to the point of causing major friction within the home.” In fact, Jones even hires her team to do her spaces. “I don’t have the time to do it properly, and also I see the space daily and have emotional ties.”

  • According to Kennedy people who want the following would benefit from hiring a home organizer:

  • Less items overall in their space

  • A better understanding of what they own

  • To clearly see what they have and know where items belong

  • To make a space more functional and accessible

  • To involve others (kids/partner) in the care and keeping of their home

  • To let go of emotions like shame or nostalgia

  • Better health habits (lower stress, better sleep, less anxiety)

  • To create a team approach with a therapist or other health professional

Who wouldn’t benefit from hiring a home organizer?

Although it appears that most people could reap the benefits of working with a home organizer, there are certain types of people for whom this might not be the best idea.

Kennedy identifies the following:

  • Those who aren’t yet willing to part with items

  • Those who want deep cleaning or services outside the scope offered since home organizers are not professional cleaners

  • Those who aren’t willing to maintain an organized space after the process is complete

  • Those expecting services to be low cost or near free, as this is a dedicated profession.

Also, Jones warns that it’s unrealistic for hoarders to think that a home organizer can solve all of their problems. “They need to tackle the issue of why they keep things, before trying to get organized,” she explains, adding that there are organizers specifically trained for hoarders—and these individuals work with psychologists as well.

In addition, Jones advises against hiring a home organizer for someone else. “I often get calls from family members calling on behalf of a relative, and I will not entertain the project until I speak with the client directly.”

And there are additional scenarios in which a home organizer might not be the best idea. If you’re already highly organized, and your home looks like something in a magazine, Aiello says you likely already have an effective organization system and probably don’t need outside help.

Also, hiring a home organizer could be cost-prohibitive, depending on your financial situation. “If someone is already in debt, the last thing an organizer would want is for them to go further down that path,” Aiello says. In this type of situation, she says a DIY solution would be a better option.

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