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That Ladder In My Face

That Ladder In My Face

See that ladder in the picture? It was there because, during the early morning hours, the CO2 alarm started making noises. These noises should not have happened since we recently changed the batteries. (Nevertheless, “noises” happened).

My husband needed the ladder to fix the issue. Later, it was almost noon, and the ladder was still there – out of the way, yes. But still there.

I was trying to work near that space, but that ladder was looking at me, making itself known, telling me it was out of place and in my face. I could not focus nor ignore that fact. It truly made me uncomfortable.

This incident made me think a little about how clutter happens and why it creeps up quickly in many homes.

That ladder there is precisely the kind of thing that no one would pay attention to because it seems trivial or inconsequential. But ignoring the ladder for a couple of days would result in everyone getting used to it being there. After a couple of days, the brain no longer even sees the ladder. And weeks pass, months pass, and next year, the ladder is still there!

This phenomenon happens with the ladder, with every tool we own, with the packaging from bought items brought into the home, cleaning products, and even kitchen gadgets.

If we do not remain vigilant to these instances, clutter most likely will follow if we miss the signs. We stop seeing things when we ignore them.

The question is, how likely are you to take notice, and how tolerant would you be of items out of place (and in your face instead!)? At what point do you start feeling uncomfortable?

Some people might not have the proper space to even cook in their kitchens and are not bothered. This point of feeling uncomfortable is a very personal threshold. But if we end up confused by our clutter, needing an Organizer, or needing any other kind of help to deal with the mess around us, that means stuff has overpowered us. We missed the signals!

The mere idea of putting the ladder against the wall for even a minute after using it bothers me. That is how I am sure clutter does not happen in our home – because my tolerance level is zero, which ensures that I do not miss these early signs.

But it is not necessary to be so drastic to be and remain organized. It is needed to recalibrate the point where we start feeling uneasy, so we get the cue that it is time to act instead of ignoring the clutter. That is how we avoid mess from taking over our lives.

While it might seem normal to use a tool and leave it anywhere “for the moment,” to put it away “later,” we would be at a greater risk of creeping clutter. How likely are we to place the item in its place at a later time? Not very.

10 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

10 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

Whether you are a caregiver to an elderly person, a parent of a child with health issues, an individual that takes multiple vitamins and supplements to stay healthy, or a mother managing a household full of individuals with diverse conditions, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job and you can consider the job a success if half the time the pills are not forgotten.

I’d like to share what I have done to simplify this process and increase consistency in the taking of meds and supplements for everyone in the home.

Here are some tools you might need for this process.

  • Pill pouches (find them at your favorite pharmacy or Amazon)
  • Boxes or containers that can be divided, such as “Like It Bricks” from The Container Store (but do not forget the dividers when buying these boxes – sold separately)
  • Label maker (optional)
  • Sharpie
  • Medium plastic bin or container (these Multi-Purpose bins works wonders)

Devote 45 minutes to this task on a weekly basis. Make it a commitment and place this activity on calendar!

When ready, follow these 10 easy steps:

  1. Place all meds/supplements that household members take regularly in the plastic bin or container. The container size will be determined by the amount of bottles and their sizes.
  2. Write the initial of each person’s name and dose along with the frequency. For example, “M 1-am/2-pm” indicates that for “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles.
  3. With the label maker, label the boxes to be divided, with the names of the persons taking the meds/supplements. Assign 1 box to each person.
  4. Divide each person’s box according to the times this person takes meds/supplements throughout the day. For example, if “M” takes pills with breakfast, lunch, and before bed, “M” will need a box with three divisions. Label those sections accordingly for each box.
  5. To prepare meds/supplements for the next seven days, place seven empty bags on a table per person, per time of day the pills are taken. Most likely, each person will need seven bags for the morning pills and seven bags for the evening pills. If noon pills are required, lay out a third group of seven plastic bags. It is less confusing and prone to error if you work one person at a time, unless the meds/supplements are the same for everyone, in the same dosage and timing.
  6. Select all bottles pertaining to the first person. Start distributing the pills by placing them on top of the plastic bags, accordingly. The bags are closed, flat on the table at this time.
  7. When done with the first person’s pills, take each group of pills and place them inside the bag underneath the group. Close each bag.
  8. Place all morning pills in the morning partition of the box corresponding to the first person you are working with. Place all evening pills in the evening partition of the box. Repeat the process with any other group of pills this person takes. This will be the case if such person also takes some meds/supplements at noon, for example.
  9. Repeat the process for each additional person that needs meds/supplements.
  10. Do not forget to place the empty pill bag in the box to be reused the following week.

It is simpler to access that person’s box and take the corresponding pill pouch for the time of day than to have many bottles to sort and open, sometimes two or three of the same product, some almost empty.
When medicines and supplements for everyone in the home are in one single place it is easier to find what we need at the moment, what needs to be ordered, and when. This process also helps tremendously to increase the consistency in the taking of one’s medications and supplements.
Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not in the bathroom. The humidity of the bathroom affects their power. It also makes sense to keep medication and supplements in the kitchen because we ingest these usually with water or another beverage. The optimal place for the pill pouch boxes and the bin with original product bottles is a section in the pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen.
Pro Tip: Things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. Included in this group are things like rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, and the like.
I recently created a video explaining this pill management process. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/kmmZd2z9lpI

Got Dog?

Got Dog?

Got dogs?

I’m going to say a couple of things about having dogs. I might ruffle some feathers, but I am not apologizing for that – not this time.

I adore dogs. They deserve all our love, compassion, and more! And humans owe them big. Dogs, as we know them, did not exist in nature. We created them by domesticating their wild ancestors. We created this type of creature that depends on us. It would be absurd to turn our backs on them by neglecting their complex needs.

I have worked with wonderful clients that have all kinds of animals. My clients take good care of them, for the most part. But I want to talk about dogs in particular. Dogs are intelligent, sentient, social beings, and many times “just the basics” won’t do.

Why do you have dogs? If the answer is purely utilitarian, please look for a loving, deserving family for them. Dogs love and need love. They are much better than us at seeing through our intentions and feelings. Dogs know when they are not loved. That can break a dog’s heart and spirit. So, if you have dogs but do not love them – truly love them, do yourself and the dogs a favor and rehome them asap.

Now, continue reading if you have dogs because you truly love and respect them. I have some pointers on behalf of my canine friends that might not be the usual things we think about, but this is not a manual on “how to own a dog.”

First things first

Microchip your dog(s) and keep the national registry updated with moves or any pertinent changes. There is no point in using the technology if you will drop the ball.

Create a name tag with your phone number (not the vet’s) and address for the dog’s collar. In case the dog gets lost, it is easier to reunite him/her with the owners if he/she have a tag on the collar that has the home number because the vet’s office is not open 24/7. It is important to have that tag because not everyone will be willing or able to take the dog to a place where the microchip can be scanned. And, as I learned the hard way once (happy ending, though!), not all places have scanners that can read all kinds of microchips.

Be a responsible owner and spay or neuter the dog. Unless you are in the breeding industry (which by now should be banned altogether, given the overpopulation of wonderful dogs in shelters that can’t find a loving home to no fault of their own), your dogs should be sterilized to avoid problems and heartaches when you have to deal with a litter of puppies. Chances are puppies will end up in houses where they are less than cherished, especially if the owners of these puppies did not have to pay a hefty price for them.

Kenneling

If you decide to leave your dog(s) kenneled when you are not home, please ensure that the kennel has adequate ventilation and that the dog has access to clean fresh water. There are water bottles for kennels that work with gravity and water demand as the dog drinks. They eliminate the mess.

Keep in mind that the dog will do his/her best to avoid soiling the kennel, but do not push their limits or abuse their good nature and respect for you. You don’t want their bladder to explode or the dog to be in pain. Keep in mind that you have a dog at home that has been kenneled all day.

Either go home asap and allow them to go potty or make arrangements with a neighbor or paid service to walk the dog at some time during your absence.

Ensure the kennel has a soft surface for the dog to rest on. Get a kennel cushion or place a couple of plush towels inside the kennel.

Find a good location for the kennel. Avoid direct sunlight or dangerous spaces with access to electrical cables, for example. When the kennel is in a space with a fan and/or windows, leave the fan on and leave windows open for the dog to enjoy natural light. It is best not to cover the kennel with towels or blankets. The dog enjoys seeing the surroundings.

Maybe leave the tv on or the radio at low volume for entertainment?

Consider also leaving a chew toy inside the kennel.

When the dog is very young and/or getting used to living in your home, leave a piece of clothing or bedding with your scent.

By the way, a kennel that is the appropriate size allows the dog to stand upright and move around. Ensure the kennel is the correct size for your dog. Can you imagine spending your days in a cage where you can’t even stretch your legs? That is a form of torture (and even then, the dog still loves you. Dang!)

Walking the dog

Smile, for God’s sake! I can’t tell you the many times I have crossed paths with people walking their dogs that look so miserable and act so anti-socially that they don’t even answer a “hello.” Keep in mind that it is your privilege to be in the company of such a magnificent creature and that he/she loves you! If this thought does not make you smile, read again the fourth paragraph above.

Allow your dog to sniff around. What is the purpose of walking your dog if you will be pulling him/her by the leash, even hurting them, when all they want is to “read the news”? Smells are to a dog like Facebook or Instagram is to you. That is how they know who is around and what is happening. This might be the only socialization the dog will get in his entire day!

Consider using a harness instead of latching the leash to the dog’s collar. When the dog pulls away or if you pull the dog, the collar hurts tender tendons in the neck. This kind of injury can be serious. And speaking of leashes, avoid those retractable ones. So many instances have been documented of those leashes causing severe injuries both to dogs and humans alike!

Food and water

Please thoroughly wash the dog’s bowls (both water and food) daily. It is disgusting that some people serve their dog’s food and water in filthy bowls! Especially the water bowl- it is not just a matter of replenishing the water. Every time a dog drinks water from a bowl, the saliva goes into it, and mixed with the water, it creates a slimy film in the bowl. But this is not their fault, and they deserve clean water. So let’s keep those bowls squeaky clean, yes?

If your dog is a medium or large breed, consider a raised feeder for their bowls. It is hard for taller dogs to eat or drink from a bowl on the floor. These raised feeders also help their digestion, given the better way they eat their food.

Do not give your dog human food. Yes, to human-grade food for dogs, but the food should be prepared for their special needs and calibrated in composition and caloric value. Absolutely no giving dogs your chicken bones and things like that. Although some dogs might behave as if they were garbage disposals, please keep in mind that they are not. Do not give them the stuff everyone leaves on their plates and much less the food that has spoiled in your fridge. You will pay awful consequences.

Zzzzzz

Hopefully, your dog has a comfortable bed of his own or at least a comfy, cozy corner to sleep and feel safe. Wash the bed at least every month. If the bed has a removable cover, even easier! If the corner where the dog sleeps is made of blankets or even towels, wash all that stuff regularly. Dogs need a clean place too!

Invest in training

Better to have a trained dog than to spend the few years he lives with us yelling at the poor creature when he/she does the wrong thing, according to our rules. Dogs are intelligent creatures. It is we, humans that are inconsistent and impatient with them. How are they supposed to learn when they are not properly shown what is expected of them?

Bath time

Some breeds are supposed to skip bathing (or so I’ve heard). Even if your dog does not share your bed, please bathe them from time to time, groom them, clip their nails, express their anal glands (yep, that too!). Don’t want to do this yourself? Hire a grooming service. Don’t have the resources for that and don’t want to do it yourself? Don’t have a dog!

I have heard many times “we don’t want the dog inside because he smells”. And who’s fault is that? I bet you would smell ten times worse than any dog if you stop showering for several weeks.

Vet care

The least you can do for your dog is to ensure that he/she has an annual checkup with the vet to receive their shots and, at minimum, one thorough dental cleaning per year. Bacteria from the gums can easily affect the heart of a dog.

Of course, every time the dog looks or acts strangely, you should take them to the vet to ensure his/her wellbeing.

Do not forget the heartworm medication every single month. It is very sad to see a dog suffering from heartworms when this is easily avoidable.

Kids and dogs

Kids and dogs are a great combination only when the children have learned to respect the dog.

Some people think it is quite funny or speaks highly of the dog when their children do all kinds of things to their dog, and the dog does not bite or snarl. Stupid, stupid!!!! They are pushing their dogs’ limits, potentially creating a dangerous situation for both child and dog. The dog is being harmed, abused, or at least disrespected. Adults model a terrible example for their children.

Children need to learn, early in life, that dogs need to be respected and cherished, and that is why the dog shares the home with the family. What part of this is funny or should make the dog owner proud? I do not have a frigging idea!

New baby?

Before bringing your new baby home, allow the dog to familiarize him/herself with the baby’s scent.

Bring a blanket that has been used by the baby at the hospital and place it in the dog’s kennel or bed. The reception of your baby by your furry friend will be much different.

Please do not neglect your dog or feel you have to keep the dog out now that you have a baby.
That is a sure way to break a dog’s heart and create an ill will on the dog towards your baby.
The dog is (or should be) part of the family. They naturally bond with babies and love caring for them! If you feel you do not have enough love to share now that you have a child, find a loving family that does not feel that way. The dog deserves it!

Consider engaging a trainer before the baby is born (for the dog, that is!). A trainer can help you and the dog work on walks with a stroller and many other foreseeable situations with the baby you might want to be ready for. This will considerably decrease any stress that might arise from bringing home the newest member of the family. Especially, work on barking at the door and greeting visitors. These are two areas where big challenges arise upon bringing a new baby to a home with dogs.

Treat those fleas!

Can you imagine what the dog goes through living with an infestation of fleas 24/7? Well, don’t treat the fleas, and you won’t have to imagine it for long. Enough said!

Things we do that dogs hate

Think it is so cute and funny to dress up your dog for Halloween or whatever other occasion? They do not share your views on this. Do not do this ridiculous thing! They don’t like the feel, and they know how stupid they look.

Do not love your dog by placing your face in front of theirs. They hate it! They might tolerate it because it is you, and they love you and do not want to disappoint you. But they do not like this a bit.

Some dogs are suited for cold climates, but others are not. If it is cold to you and your dog is not a furry snow beast (like mine), consider getting them a size-appropriate jacket for those moments when there is no other option than going outside. Do not presume that being dogs and having fur is automatic protection. This is one of those moments when your dog won’t be bothered being dressed.

If your dog lives/sleeps outside, unless this is clearly their preference (some breeds are like that), allow your dogs inside! They are part of the family. If you do not think a dog’s place is inside the home, again, DO NOT HAVE A DOG! It is a crime in most states to leave a dog outside when it is too hot or too cold. There is a reason for that – it is an aberrant act of cruelty!

The dog’s fur is designed to not only protect him/her against the cold but also to insulate them in the heat. Some people think they are doing their dog a favor by shaving off the hair when it is too hot out there, but this makes the dog lose the protection they naturally have against the heat. Unless the dog is very matted and there is no better solution than to shave off the hair, do not do such a thing!

Two final thoughts

Do not ignore your dog(s). They look for eye contact as a reassurance of your love. Please look at them, smile at them, talk to them. Often. It has been shown through scientific tests (tomography of the dog’s brain) that when a dog sees his/her human, their brain lights up in the same manner the human brain behaves in the presence of their loved one.

Whoever abandons an old dog because he/she has become an inconvenience or no longer as much fun as they used to be, deserves the same treatment by their own children. In neglecting or rejecting an older dog, that is the lesson they are teaching their own children. So, wait for it – Karma is a bitch and is coming for you one of these days.

For the love of dogs!

Some Clutter Truths

Some Clutter Truths

Imagine a store window with so much stuff in it that you can’t focus on anything.

Imagine a model home spectacularly designed, but clutter covers countertops, closets are full to the brim, and boxes are all over.

Imagine a hotel room with a closet full of toilet paper, paper towels, even diapers of various sizes, and a box of plastic bags. There are extra blankets folded on the bed and chairs. The bathroom cabinets are full of toiletries.

Imagine if The Container Store had a showroom with a closet full of mismatched hangers, clothes jammed on top of each other, and store supplies boxes crammed under the clothes.

These are the points I want to convey with the previous scenarios:

    • We can’t organize clutter.
    • A cluttered place will never look elegant, inviting, organized, nor appealing.
    • Clutter will hide any space’s beauty.
    • Less is more when it comes to elegance.
    • Clear space is to a home what a wide, white mat is to a work of art – It highlights the beauty of what it surrounds.

Oftentimes we can’t let go of things we no longer need or want. This difficulty might be rooted in fear of not having something when we need it (if we ever need it). But many times, we don’t even know we have what we own and end up buying duplicates anyway.

Other times we believe we are throwing money away if we discard some of our possessions. But here is the thing, we spend money when acquiring stuff, not when tossing them. Frequently keeping things costs us more money than letting them go.

In the meantime, that fear of letting go holds us hostage to a cluttered environment – a home in disarray and chaos. Whether we notice or not, our life energy gets sucked into this tornado of stuff. That cluttered space prevents us from enjoying the things we keep. When everything seems unique, then nothing is.

I invite you to take the plunge and free yourself or so many useless possessions. Re-evaluate your relationship with things. The less we own, the easier it is to keep up with what we have, and the more we start appreciating everything – material possessions or otherwise.

I can partner with you on this journey! Let’s talk.

How Much Does it Cost to Work With a Professional Organizer & Why

How Much Does it Cost to Work With a Professional Organizer & Why

This blog was copied with the permission of Samantha Pregenzer, the author of the blog and the owner of Simply Organized https://simplyorganized.me.

Well, this may rock a few boats but that’s not the intention behind this one. It’s not directed to my professional organizer community. Its sole purpose is to reach people who need help decluttering or getting organized and have been hesitant to hire (or even contact) an organizer because the main obstacle thought is money.

Here’s the disclaimer…so we can get this out of the way. ha! For years in this business I’ve heard it’s a no-no to talk about pricing. Every professional meeting I attend includes a reminder about it – at the top of the meeting agenda it’s mentioned as “housekeeping” or “rules”. I’m not sharing pricing details to rock our industry’s boat…because I absolutely respect what everyone in my field does….and really, each of us charges VERY differently based on the type of organizing we do. So as a simple disclaimer, what I am sharing is being explained to help those who may be interested in hiring an organizer and wondered how much it costs, how the process works and explain ALL the things we do from the point you complete that contact form to the end result of a beautifully organized space….in essence, how we justify that invoice at the end of the project.

My job is interesting in that people sometimes think I’m a cleaning lady or an interior designer. I’m sure others in my field can relate to that. A organizer is something totally different – we deal with your stuff not your floors, toilets, sinks, counters, etc. BUT some of us do in the process of working with you end up doing design work OR cleaning. Personally, in my business I do both services. We clean the space we are organizing and the spaces directly surrounding as well. I am sharing this because often times I’ve heard people try to compare our pricing to that of a housecleaner. It’s a very different job.

I’m able to discuss this topic in detail and with confidence because I’ve been an organizer for 10+ years. I have decluttered and organized hundreds of homes. All sorts of residential spaces. For all sorts of people and situations. I’ve been a member of NAPO for 6 years and have positive, collaborative relationships with countless organizing colleagues. I’ve been “in the trenches” for a long time doing the hard hard work and have seen the industry change in this amount of time…especially over social media. I’ve been asked to speak to my organizing community multiple times – honored, humbled, grateful for each invitation. What I am sharing comes from MY experience as a seasoned organizer so you can bet it’s going to be real.

You can also bet I’m not perfect with everything and even running my own business is tough. I’m a much better organizer than business owner. I’ve had to learn pricing models and tested out all sorts of pricing methods all by my lonesome. Why? Because no one in my industry will talk numbers, remember? lol! Anyway, I’m simply sharing from my personal business experience and pretty sure it’s on point after all this time!

And after you’re done reading, I hope you DO reach out for help! It will be well worth your investment!

With all that said, let’s get into it!…

A professional organizer’s pricing first and foremost is going to depend on a few factors:

EXPERIENCE

HOW LARGE THEIR COMPANY IS

THE SCOPE OF YOUR PROJECT

WHERE YOU LIVE

HOW THEY STRUCTURE THEIR BUSINESS / CONTRACTS

EXPERIENCE

Experience is the top reason pricing can be low or high. Lesser experienced organizer rates range anywhere from $50 – $100 per hour. Seasoned, well experienced organizers can range from $125 – $500 per hour. That rate comes from experience and skill. Think of this as similar to a great interior designer or contractor. Someone who is efficient and highly skilled / connected will charge a bit more, but will be worth every penny. While you may think opting for someone lesser priced will be sufficient, I’ve seen many cases in which a client ended up paying more in the end to have someone else come in to repair gaps or issues.

One little side story – I am always a cheerleader of new organizers. But one time I had the terrible experience of having to tell a client the shelving they paid $xxxx for wasn’t going to work with their end goal. We had to start from scratch. The shelving was limiting, not adjustable and free-standing. It stood only 6′ tall in a garage that was about 15′ tall. Total waste of space and they had 4 children with a TON of garage contents to organize. They ended up investing 2 fold what they would have had they hired someone more experienced from the get go. Again, not to shoot down that organizer by any means…but it certainly cost this family a lot more money than planned. Sometimes paying for experience is well worth it!

When I was starting out, I charged $50 per hour. After about a year and 50 or so projects under my belt, I raised that to $75 per hour. Since then my hourly rate has increased. (Won’t share my exact rate but it’s over $100 per hour) The last time I raised my rates, which was about a year ago, I felt I was at the top of my industry niche in terms of pricing. Pretty sure I am still there. It’s rare someone questions the hourly rate I quote because I can back up that fee with experience. One look at my portfolio or just a few minutes into a consult, a potential client knows I am experienced, can deliver an end result they will love / it’s sustainable, and they want to hire me and my team.

Specialties can also affect pricing. For example, my dear friend and colleague, Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office, only organizes office spaces. It’s a specialty and she should charge a special rate based on that. There are organizers who only organize photos or papers or home computers / digital devices or even estate sales.

Depending on an organizer’s experience and specialties, you can see how hourly rates will differ. It’s also going to depend on the factors outlined below too…for example, where you live; big city, more rural small town. But this gives you an explanation right out of the gate that pricing can vary and in general is due to experience.

HOW LARGE THEIR COMPANY IS

I worked alone for many years and was happy to do so. There are still projects today I choose to work on alone. I enjoy the solitude and get hyper-focused….barely talking while I work. But if I’m ever going to realize bigger dreams and goals for this business and scale it, I have to hire people. Rates will go up when more team members are on the project. So if you are quoted for a team of 3 organizers, the price could be $250 per hour or more. Again, this all depends on the experience of those team members as well. Seasoned crew members can make up to $100 per hour…sometimes more. Or they can make as little as $35 per hour if in training.

THE SCOPE OF YOUR PROJECT

The scope of your organizing project is a factor. If we are doing a whole house declutter, the invoice may be high due to the number of hours and team members. If you are designing a custom closet, organizers generally charge a consulting fee to work with you and interface with the closet company to help you design the most efficient space…and then you may hire them to help organize it once installed. This is a HUGE range in pricing because the scope of work in a pantry vs the scope in a custom walk-in master closet or decluttering a large 3-car garage – it’s a vast difference in space, how many team members, and honestly….how quick you are to make decisions when it comes to decluttering items.

An organizer’s niche also matters in pricing. If you’re organizing papers in an office or photos on your computer or you’re unpacking a 1 bedroom or 10 bedroom home…organizers specialize in many different categories. Personally, I am a residential organizer for families and I am heavy into stuff. Lots of stuff. It’s physical job that moves quickly. I don’t spend hours upon hours sorting through papers. Or photos. Maybe one day when my body can’t do this anymore…but point is, an organizer’s niche could be a factor in pricing as well.

WHERE YOU LIVE

Rates for organizers in metropolitan areas are higher than small towns. That’s not to say there aren’t small towns who compete with the big cities. I used to live in Little Rock and it’s a VERY sophisticated city. It’s small but there are high-end designers I came to know while living there. They are charging what a lot of designers in my current SF area charge. But I have seen a big difference in pricing for organizers based in NYC vs in SF. Just something to keep in mind when you are hiring an organizer.

HOW THEY STRUCTURE THEIR BUSINESS / CONTRACTS

Like any small business, owners choose to run their business how they see best. For a long time I tried flat rate pricing. I felt like it took the guessing out of how many hours I would be there – clients occasionally gave off a vibe of worry that I may be there for hours upon hours. So if I felt confident I could complete the project in 6 hours, for example, I quoted them my hourly rate x 6. It worked pretty well for a while, but once I hired team members, hourly was easier.

Organizers also sometimes operate their business as if they are an interior designer. I mean, really – everyone should have a client contract. I do and it took me a while to get on board. For a long time my thought was “I’m just an organizer – what I do is so black and white. I’m not an interior designer with big custom furniture purchases, freight charges, etc”. Anyway, sometimes organizers ask for a retainer if they are working on a large project that could go on a while. Especially if it’s a design project for a custom closet…if they are doing any work from home they may discount their hourly rate, but this could drive up costs.

Some organizers charge a consultation fee…some don’t.

Some organizers charge a travel fee…some don’t.

Again, depends on how they run their business and hopefully the organizer you connect with is clear and upfront with any pricing so there aren’t surprises at the end. Nothing worse than a surprise on your invoice you weren’t expecting.

Sam space planning 225x300 - How Much Does it Cost to Work With a Professional Organizer & Why

HOW THE PROCESS WORKS

The reason I want to share a quick view of how the process works is because you’ll then understand our pricing even better. There is MUCH more involved than simply showing up to help you declutter. A good organizer will also teach you how to maintain the space, how to declutter another similar space on your own so they don’t have to come back and how to work through emotions when letting go of items. There’s work that happens before we arrive AND after we leave. It’s definitely a relationship and it gets intimate. That’s one of my favorite parts of this job!

A good organizer also spends time reading books, attending conference and seminars, maybe working with a business coach and definitely investing in more education. And staying on top of current trends in the industry.

In my business I can share how the process works (which will soon be in video format – yay!) but it begins when you complete the contact form. The first steps are always the same:

Contact form is completed

I email you to set up a phone consult

We have a 20 minute phone consult (complimentary)

If after the call we feel it’s a match, we schedule an in-person 45 minute consult (fee included). During the consult we narrow down your hot zone and where I’d begin working with you.

I come home to pull together a quote

Once the quote is approved, we schedule a day / time to be there

From there the process can go in a few different directions. If it’s a simple declutter of an office, I schedule myself to be there. But if there is design or material involved, I have more work to do from home prior to our appointment. And I may also need to come back for a deeper dive into your volume of stuff, to take measurements and photos, etc.

Could look like this:

I get to work on a game plan – my game plan is key to the timeliness of our projects. Everything is scheduled and structured before we arrive. If team members need to join me, I schedule them accordingly. If my haul team needs to be on stand by, I make them aware of the day, possible time, location and even the size of the truck needed for haul away.

If product needs to be sourced, I spend time in the office pulling options I then share with my client for approval.

When approved, we place orders and pick up materials.

If we are designing an Elfa space, I schedule myself time to go to TCS to design and then there is a phase of going back and forth with the client for edits before purchasing. Once these are purchased, we need to have material delivered and maybe our painter is scheduled beforehand (demo and touch ups)… and then we need to schedule the installer. I do some installs myself, but recently hired our own great installer who works a bit quicker so I can work behind him getting the space organized.

As you can see, it’s not as simple as decluttering and organizing. There’s a lot more. Don’t forget my time in the office at the end of a project reconciling product receipts, invoicing, following up with the client, paying team members, etc. It’s a big job and each and every client needs the best service so I take great care in delivering a full-service experience.

I spend a lot of time planning organizing projects from right here…not necessarily in a client’s home…

Sam home office before e1573254358692 225x300 - How Much Does it Cost to Work With a Professional Organizer & Why

And like any business, there’s a cost of doing business. Some of that affects pricing too.

PERKS OF WORKING WITH A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER

Had to share some of the fun perks of working with a professional organizer! From special discounts to the intimate, fun relationship you will build – I promise you won’t regret having hired one.

SPECIAL TRADE DISCOUNTS

Most experienced and seasoned organizers will have connections to special discounts. Personally I am a trade member with The Container Store – this gives us special discounts all year long, which I always pass down to our clients. I never up-charge (some organizers do!). Since design and making spaces beautiful is also at play in SO | Home, I became a trade member of all the Pottery Barn brands, including West Elm and Williams Sonoma. I’m a trade member with Wayfair. And a trade member with Restoration Hardware. And a trade member with Studio McGee.

I stay on top of sale trends. The Container Store, for example, pretty much runs the same sales cycle each calendar year. I plan for these in advance (even their friends and family event…I have employee friends who hook us up each fall) which gives me a chance to follow up with Sally about that pantry she wanted to organize last fall, but nothing pantry related was on sale at that time.

One of my goals is always to save a family money. Families grow and change and it’s inevitable that a system I set up in 2017 may not be working the same in 2020. It’s normal but I plan for it in advance and follow up with them. I’d like that done for me too if I was working with a designer-type.

EXPERTISE & SAVING MONEY

When you hire an organizer, they will know exactly which product works in your space…and depending on your habits. Which means you won’t be buying containment over and over because it is failing you. Expertise in this area matters.

LEARNING NEW TECHNIQUES AND HABITS

You’re going to learn how to declutter and organize in a way that works for you. New systems, new habits…organizing is a great skill to have. I also work with clients on time management and goal setting as well. They go hand in hand with organizing.

HOW YOU’RE GOING TO FEEL!

You are going to feel incredible when the process is behind you! All of those items that were previously taking up space or inducing bad memories / reminders…with them behind you and a fresh new space you’re going to feel inspired and lighter. Happy and content. Motivated. You will love opening that garage to see the entire floor and pull your car in. You will feel excited to open that cabinet or closet door or drawer. You will know exactly where to find the scissors or that photo or that shirt you wanted to wear last summer but forgot about.

A little of what the Internet says…

Just for the heck of it, I did a quick google search to find out what the going rate is. It was all over the map. Anywhere from $30 per hour to $375 for a 3 hour session.

According to Angie’s List, members reported paying as much as $1,500 to $5,000 for major home organization projects, such as unpacking and organizing an entire home after a move, or tackling multiple rooms including the living room, bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, basement and spare room.

My sweet friend and colleague, Geralin Thomas, wrote this great article in 2018 breaking down costs based on where you live in the US. She polled many many organizers around the country who were pretty open with their rates – nice to see!

I’d love to hear any questions you have and am more than happy to answer it here – so leave them in the comments or send me an email if it’s something more personal. Hope this answered some of your questions or is encouraging you to take the leap and contact an organizer to finally help you with a space or two.

Hope you’re having a great start to the weekend!

xx,

Sam

Batteries everywhere, except where you need one, when you need one

Batteries everywhere, except where you need one, when you need one

Yes…. You know you had a couple in that “junk drawer” in the kitchen…. But you can’t find them now.  Or maybe you did find one, but you need two!  Better yet, you found them, but they are expired.  It happens to everyone.

How about giving the batteries a home, like any other thing in your house?  Do not treat them as miscellaneous or junk items anymore.  Take the time to organize the batteries by size and store them in a container that makes it easier to find what you need at any point.

I bought a tackle box with removable dividers that works exceptionally well. It is translucent, so you know what is inside at a glance.  With its handle and secure lock, so you can carry it safely.  The removable dividers make it easier for you to create the kind of spaces you need, according to the type and amount of batteries you may have, even if the supply changes over time.  You can even store accessories such as battery chargers in the same bin.