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by Carol Weeg

Have you been thinking about organizing your home or office, but you never get beyond the thinking-about-it stage? What you may need is a professional organizer-someone who can help you get all that clutter under control so you can live and work more freely and easily.

What’s it like to work with a professional organizer? Victoria Pearlman, a professional organizer in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, who calls herself the Order Artisan (www.orderartisan.com), answers our FAQs:

What types of people hire a professional organizer?
It’s quite a variety. A lot of clients are professional women. They’re working all the time and have no time for the stuff that needs to get done at home. Busy mothers and people who are chronically disorganized are also frequently clients.  Working with a professional organizer is good for anyone who needs a semblance of organization in her busy life. If you just don’t have the time or you can’t get it scheduled, having someone come in and help you with it means you’ll get it done.

How does it work?
It starts with a phone conversation. Typically a professional organizer talks at length with the client to get an idea of what’s going on in her life. Most of the time people call because they’re under stress: there’s some life change going on, or they just can’t take the chaos anymore. Then you set up an appointment, and the organizer comes to the person’s office or home for a tour of the space they want to organize. You talk about a game plan and get started.

How long does it take?
It depends on how quick a decision-maker the client is. Professional organizers help you move along. We’re not going to sit there and look at the box of pictures. That’s part of the benefit-we keep you on task and help you to prioritize what really needs to get done right now. We focus on what’s driving you the craziest. And we help you examine why you’re keeping things and how to let go of items that you don’t love or want. But we’re not going to say that you have to throw everything out. People are afraid of that, too. We help you find the treasures both emotionally and physically.

What does it cost?
Organizers charge anywhere from $50-$250 an hour. Business organizing usually is double the cost of residential organizing.

Should people expect to go out and buy new storage systems?
It depends on the organizer and the client. Many people have all types of organizing and storage devices; they just aren’t using them. Sometimes organizers can see things in a different way and get better use from storage that clients already have.

What should you look for in a professional organizer?
I would recommend finding somebody through the National Association of Professional Organizers (www. napo.net). NAPO members have a code of ethics and ongoing education.

Look for someone you have a good rapport with. You can get a feel for the person on the phone. Just as you want to go to a hairdresser you feel comfortable with, you need to have a comfort level with a professional organizer. The things we’re going through are very personal. (Of course, everything is confidential.)

A good professional organizer will tailor his or her system to you. We work with clients to figure out what works best for them. We don’t just set up a system and leave. We talk, we tweak, we do it together.

How do people feel about the results?
People are always happy in the end, even if they cry during the process. (One client actually did cry, but it was a good thing because she was letting go of something that was a burden to her.) But everyone’s happy because they’ve accomplished something.

So if you’re tired of dealing with the mess, consider hiring a professional organizer to restore your home or office to a place that works.

Bio:
Carol Weeg writes and edits Finding Our Way: Wit and Wisdom for Women, the newsletter for thinking women in midlife. Carol inspires women to explore their lives today-from work, to relationships, to dealing with perimenopause and menopause (is it hot in here?). Visit Carol Weeg on the Web at www.findingourway.com to download a free sample copy of Finding Our Way.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.