Working with a Professional Organizer: What to Expect

NO we are not afraid of the Skittles that have been buried under your files for 5 years, and no, this is NOT the worst we’ve ever seen.

Organizers recognize that our clients come to us in various states of vulnerability and that it’s difficult to open up your life to someone. Trust that you are in good hands. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to work with an organizer and hopefully this will banish any worry.

To start with: The session usually begins by establishing a way to sort items. This often includes boxes or bags labeled TRASH, DONATE, OTHER ROOM and others depending on your situation. Your professional will help you decide.

The items you’re deciding to keep will start to be grouped together as well. These categories often develop as your organizer starts to see patterns and gets an idea of what you use regularly and how/where you use it. You will be asked several questions pertaining to this as you chat along the way. If you ever used one of those little shape sorters as a kid– you can totally do this!

Expect your organizer to begin to feel like a good friend. Personal, warm, and sometimes overly honest– totally helpful. They’ll keep you on track and maybe remind you to take breaks.

At this point things might look messy: FEAR NOT! Depending on whether your organizer has decided everything needs to be pulled out to get a good look at it or how many little piles of do-dads you have, stuff may be everywhere. Sometimes this feels a little overwhelming to the client. But just like so many things, things often get worse before they can get better. At this point, things are about to wrap up!

(Sometimes this process will take more than one session. If so, things will be tidied enough to make your place livable until next time. If you’re willing, homework might be assigned such as sorting paperwork or other things you can do on your own before your organizer returns.)

Ahhh….now that we’ve edited your belongings, things can be put back in a way that makes sense. Your organizer will ask more questions about what and where things make sense to you in order to come up with a system that is easier to use and maintain. Now that you have less “stuff”, there should be a place for everything. Sometimes organizational items will need to be purchased, but often I find that we free up usable storage bins in the process that can be used in the end.

At this point, many organizers will talk to you about a plan to keep your space tidy or get some dates on your calendar so you’ll remember to revisit the area for maintenance. You might also schedule to work on the next space with your professional.

This is where you’ll feel spectacular! Basically everyone reports feeling great after this process and the science backs it up. You’ve made a clean sweep of the clutter that’s been causing you stress, and now it’s time to enjoy your space again.

Organizing Receipts

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As my regular readers know, I dislike papers. Teeny tiny papers that I can’t figure out where to put, but think maybe I should keep are the worst! Yep, we’re talking about receipts!

In case you missed this when we talked about organizing papers, take a little time today to organize your receipts. I like to organize mine by month, similar to this. However, another way to go about it is to keep them in categories, like so. Either way, these are both good systems to help corral the paper clutter and make sure your receipts are easily found when you need to reconcile with your bank, return and item, or make a budget.

Day Ten: THE FILING CABINET!

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This is another one that can be scary. It’s a larger version of our day one challenge, getting rid of papers.

Therefore, I’m going to try to break things down with a few easy pointers:

  1. See this link to figure out what needs to be kept and what doesn’t.
  2. Check out this video to see one great way of keeping manuals and owner’s guides. (Better yet, remember that you can find most of them online, and pitch them!)
  3. Once you’ve pared things down, check out this filing system for one neat way to keep things in order.

Using Unconventional Systems (a before and after story)

Contrary to popular belief, organizing doesn’t have to be expensive. Let’s use a recent closet project for a budget-friendly example. Here before you is a teenager’s closet fresh from a recent move.

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Unfortunately, the balance of the closet was almost equally as full. There were books covering the bottom of the floor, and boxes still packed up on the top shelf. The biggest issue on this side was that there was no room for the shoes which were among the pile, and hard to find. Sometimes, when you first move, it’s hard to figure out how to fit things into your new space.

After finding a place on a nearby bookshelf for the aforementioned books,  and arranging things more efficiently, there was more room overall in the closet.  We were able to give the shoes their own little home, and repurposed some unused milk crates and the previously packed boxes turned on their sides for a makeshift shoe organizer. If desired, a “legit” organizer can be purchased later, or these boxes could even be wrapped in some cool paper or duct tape for the young occupant’s use.

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Using milk crates or boxes is a good way to create an extra shelf on an existing closet shelf as well so that double the shoes, purses, or whatever, can fit up there. So, forget that cliche saying. Think “inside the box”instead.