One of the nice things about being a professional organizer is that you have friends who are also professional organizers. This can be incredibly handy. My friend Janine Adams and I have been swapping organizing services for a few years. I will help her organize any area in her home, and in exchange, she’ll help me organize an area in my home. Could we each organize for ourselves? Of course. But organizing with a professional organizer is faster and best yet, a whole lot more fun. Swapping services also helps us realize what it’s like to be in our client’s shoes. Good stuff all the way around.
This past weekend I helped Janine with some small organizing projects in her office. (See below for an after shot.) This weekend it’s my turn. (I’m so excited!) I haven’t yet figured out what project we’ll work on, so I decided to offer Janine’s services to my family members. First up was Jay. By coincidence, we were talking in his office earlier this week when he mentioned he’d like my help with a few small organizing projects. It was the perfect opportunity.
“Hey,” I said, “would you like Janine to help with those projects?” His response? He said he wasn’t really comfortable having a non-family member go through his stuff. So I continued my search. Next up was Kailea. While telling her good night that evening I looked around her room and noticed it could use a bit of an organizing intervention. I asked her if she might like to organize with Janine. Guess what? I got a similar response.
Now don’t get me wrong. This has nothing to do with Janine. She’s an amazing organizer and someone who is completely gifted when it comes to putting clients at ease. My family’s resistance to working with an organizer had everything to do with their own privacy boundaries. Kailea’s bedroom and Jay’s office are personal spaces filled with personal items. Having a non-family member, or a stranger (in Kailea’s case), go through their stuff feels like too much of an invasion of privacy. (Plus, they already have access to a professional organizer who knows them very well.)
Still I found these conversations incredibly valuable. They reaffirmed that professional organizing services aren’t for everyone. It was also a terrific reminder that when I’m going through client’s things, even though I’m perfectly comfortable doing so, it’s important to remember that they might feel apprehensive.
When considering your own goals and needs for getting organized, find an approach that feels right to you. The ideal solution is one that feels comfortable while allowing you to get where you want to be. Depending on your circumstances and preferences, hiring a professional organizer may or may not be for you. Here are some other ideas to consider.
Ask a friend for help with your organizing projects. If you have a close friend who is very organized, you could swap “services” with her. If you don’t enjoy organizing, you could swap time for a service you enjoy doing. For example, if you love to sew, you could offer to take care of her mending or complete a sewing project for her, in exchange for a finished organizing project at your house. Or if you love to cook, perhaps you could stock a friend’s freezer with freezer meals in exchange for organizing help. Get creative! You never know when you can solve a problem for a friend in the process of getting the organizing help you need.
Seek help from family members. Another option is to enlist help from a non-judgmental family member. The ideal scenario is to find someone who will help you set up organizing systems that will work for you and your lifestyle. Or if you know what needs to be done, take the lead on your projects and assign specific tasks to family members such as sorting like with like.
Take an online organizing class. Okay, you knew I was going to suggest this one. But seriously, when I sat down to create our online classes I did it with the do-it-yourselfer in mind—that person who doesn’t want anyone else going through their things, or who doesn’t have the budget for professional organizing services. They’re also for people who simply love the satisfaction of completing organizing projects themselves. Organizing classes give you professional organizing results without having anyone else actually touch your belongings or see your home in its “before” state.
Hire a professional organizing coach. Some professional organizers offer organizing coaching as well as in-home organizing services. (I do – you can learn more about my organizing coaching services here.) The advantage to coaching is that you get the advice and experience of a professional organizer, but you’re the one going through your personal belongings. Coaching is a faster solution than taking a class because your organizing coach will pinpoint what isn’t currently working for you as well as root causes, and then offer personalized solutions to address your needs. It also works great if there’s an organizer you’d love to work with, but he or she doesn’t live in your hometown.
Try a professional organizer in a less-personal space. If your bedroom or office is filled with particularly personal items, consider hiring an organizer to organize a less-personal area of your home. The kitchen, pantry or garage could be an excellent place to try professional organizing services on for size. Who knows, you may find that your organizer quickly feels like a long-time friend, someone you’d be happy to have organize any room in your home.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you considered hiring a professional organizer in the past? If so, what held you back? Thanks for sharing!
P.S. If you live in the St. Louis area and are interested in learning more about my in-home organizing services simply contact me or visit my St. Louis professional organizing website. You can learn more about Janine’s professional organizing services by visiting her website www.peaceofmindorganizing.com.