What is a Professional Organizer? What is a Certified Professional Organizer®?

A Professional Organizer is someone who has the skills and the knowledge to help individuals and organizations take control over their environment through the development of solutions and systems that enhance productivity and efficiency in everyday life, as well as the attainment of determined goals.

The Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®) credential is designed to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance, and identify industry professionals who demonstrate the knowledge essential to professional organizing and productivity consulting. CPOs have proven industry proficiency by documenting a specific number of paid transfer-of-skill client contact hours, passing the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers (BCPO®) examination, and agreeing to adhere to the Code of Ethics for Certified Professional Organizers.

CPOs must complete 1,500 hours of paid transfer-of-skill organizing work for clients within five years of the date they apply for the certification exam. Certification lasts three years. To recertify, CPOs either submit 45 hours of continuing education that helps them improve the work they do with their client base, or they may retake and pass the current BCPO® exam.

The Certified Professional Organizer® credential is the only industry credential endorsed by NAPO.

What should I know about a Professional Organizer before I hire one?

This is an unregulated industry and customers should ask questions to discover the level of expertise and credentials of the Organizer they are looking to hire. Is the Organizer part of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO)? Does he or she pursue the enhancement of their skills through courses and seminars? Is he or she Board Certified? Is his or her business insured? All these things speak volumes of the Organizer’s knowledge, commitment to the work, responsibility to the client, and level of ethics.

It is best to avoid hiring a Professional Organizer just based on price. Get to know the person first during a preliminary meeting and see how you get along with them. Inviting someone into your home to deal with your belongings, sometimes for days, can be intimidating and is a very personal and brave decision. You will need to feel comfortable with that person.

What things should I consider before hiring a Professional Organizer?

Why are you looking to hire a Professional Organizer instead of doing the job yourself? Why now? What would you like to see happen with this experience? What does “organized” mean to you? What factors brought the situation to the present state? What might need to change or improve to maintain the results? Are you willing to learn, adapt, implement new things and maintain the order? What is your budget and time frame?

What education or training do you have that relates to your work?

I am a Board-Certified Professional Organizer® (CPO®), member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals), and I hold three additional designations by NAPO: Residential Organizing Specialist, Workplace Productivity Specialist, and Life Transitions Specialist. Also, I am a Certified International Organizing Professional (AIOP), International Staging and Redesign Professional (ISRP), and Advanced Fung Shui Design Professional (AFDP), accredited by the QC Design School in Canada.

Fewer than 10% of Professional Organizers and Productivity Consultants in the world have earned the CPO® certification credential. This certification is a voluntary, industry-led effort that benefits the members of the organizing profession as well as the public. It recognizes those professionals who have proven though examination and extensive client interaction, that they possess the body of knowledge and experience required for certification.

It seems expensive to hire a Professional Organizer!

Maybe Professional Organization services seem expensive due to the way these services are perceived. If you believe organization services will be needed on a recurrent basis (like cleaning services, for example) or do not require a specific level of expertise, the fees charged by Professional Organizers might seem high. Please know this is not a job that your cleaning company can or will do (at least not the way the work is supposed to be done). There is knowledge, experience, training, and certifications that justify the prices Professional Organizers charge for their services.

Professional Organizers uncover the root cause(s) of disorganization or the obstacles impeding your progress in terms of organization. They develop systems to increase your efficiency and productivity while maximizing your space. They work with you to learn about your routines and habits to create systems that conform to your lifestyle and the way you learn, so those systems are easy to maintain once they are put in place.

Engaging a Professional Organizer is an investment that can result in permanent changes to the way you live your life and the way you relate to your possessions and your space. It can have profound impact in your mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Oftentimes we invest substantial amounts of money changing floors, repainting the house, renovating the kitchen or bathroom. We expect these projects to be expensive, so we prepare for them and we don’t necessarily look for the cheapest provider around. We know a job poorly done can have dire consequences. We feel it is right to pay for these projects because we realize we can’t accomplish them ourselves and they will add permanent value to our home. This is how it is with professional organization. Furthermore, what would be the value of investing in expensive renovations when the space is cluttered and dysfunctional? Would you consider wearing expensive clothing to get ready for a very special event without showering first? It does not make much sense to invest in those expensive layers of improvement to our home without having a solid foundation to build upon first.

Professional Organizers typically charge by the hour, and rates vary according to the Organizer’s experience, geographical area, and certifications. You may find that rates range from $50 to $300 per hour.

If it still seems expensive to hire a Professional Organizer, consider what you pay per-square-foot for your home and think about the money you are throwing away by under-utilizing your home. Consider the cost of living in chaos and the time spent looking for all those things you need, the money spent buying duplicates of what you know you have, but can’t find. Consider the strain the chaos places on your peace and your relationships. We spend so much money on unnecessary things! Doesn’t it make sense to invest in organizing our space?

This is a decision that should not be based on price alone. Hiring a Professional Organizer is a brave decision. This person will be working with you in very close proximity and the ride will yield emotional and physical surprises you might not have imagined. You need to make sure you are hiring someone with the right credentials and expertise. You need to feel comfortable with that person.

It is a shame the Professional Organization industry is an unregulated one. This might change in the near future, though. In the meantime, there is a voluntary certification that organizers can achieve. A professional Organizer can become a Board-Certified Professional Organizer (CPO). Always look for a Professional Organizer with the right skillset for your project and with the best credentials!

How much will you charge to organize my…

Many people want to know how long the process will take or how much the Organizer will charge for a project. Before seeing the space first hand, meeting the client and having a conversation about the goals and expectations, it is very difficult to make any kind of estimates. Even then, there can’t be any kind of guarantees regarding the time a project will take. Every project is different and so is every client. We have a tremendous skill set. We work hard, fast, deep and broad, but we have no control on how fast a client can work or how much will he/she be able to cooperate with us during the process. Many factors come into play during the completion of a project. These factors affect the rate of progress of the project. Also, the clutter that is being addressed did not just happen overnight. It is not reasonable to think it can be taken care of in a couple of hours (unless, of course, you ask us to bulldoze everything in site and start from scratch. That simplifies everything for sure! ).

There is a misconception that an Organizer is someone that will come into a space, wave a magic wand and the place suddenly will be magazine worthy. That is not the case.

We need a meeting with you in order to plan the project so that you understand the process involved. It is important for us to uncover the reasons behind the current state of the space and the real obstacles you might be facing to being and remaining organized.

It is also important for you to understand that we work WITH you, as you are the one who lives in the space and you need to decide about the items to be kept and the systems to be put in place. It is in your best interest to learn the skills involved in maintaining the organization achieved. For all this to happen, we first need to understand who you are, how you live, how you learn, what are your goals and where are you moving to in your life.

Do I need to buy materials and supplies?

We strongly discourage that you buy any organizing products prior to the process of sorting and purging. Containers need to be acquired once we know what will be kept, how much, and where these items are going to be allocated. That will define the type of container, material, size and look.

We will “shop around your home” for products you might already have that we can use in our project. However, sometimes we will have suggestions of products or systems that would truly make a difference in your life and the way you relate to you space. When that is the case, and if you agree, we will purchase those items for you. Our shopping time is included in your project cost. Our company does not mark up any items purchased for clients. Furthermore, we pass on to you any trade discounts we might enjoy as Professional Organizers, as a perk for trusting us with your project. The cost for any supplies or products purchased will be included in your final bill.

Will you make me get rid of my things?

If you have decided to engage the help of Professional Organizers, you are ready for some changes to occur. Sometimes it is not the same to think about the process and the decisions to be made as to experience the moment. The process of organizing might stir up unpleasant memories or fears and even cause tense situations and reactions you did not expect.

When it comes to parting with things that do not support who you are any more, oftentimes people find a resistance they did not foresee. As Professional Organizers, we are trained to assist you in this process guiding you with questions that will lead you to the answers you need in order to make your own decisions about your belongings. Our intention is to help you get rid of unneeded items and the guilt associated with those items when those things no longer have a place in your life. We want you to have space for the new and better things that should be coming your way.

Will I have to be present?

That depends on the reason why you are hiring us. If you engage a Professional Organizer because you are moving and need help with the process or because you want your maximize the efficiency of the space in your closet or maybe because you want to make your garage just perfect, then we only need to have certain meetings with you to show you how your new space works and what the best way to keep it might be. If, on the other hand, you hire us to declutter your home or to solve issues that are really putting a strain on your life, then we’d like to empower you with skills that will allow you to solve these issues for good and will serve you well in maintaining the organization achieved to avoid falling back into the clutter trap. For this, you do need to be present with us and willing to learn. This will also require some lifestyle changes from you and those that live in the same household. There are lessons to be learned.

Can we have spread-out sessions?

We understand that sometimes it is necessary to split up a project for various reasons. Nonetheless, we’d like to point out that this is best avoided whenever possible because dividing the organization process could be a way of procrastinating or even preventing actual organization. Experience shows that a project that is divided may never be completed. The momentum is lost and most importantly, the areas that are left unorganized tend to become even more disorganized over time. Chaos creeps into the newly organized areas again and any progress achieved is lost.

What shall I do with my discarded items?
For a nominal fee, we can take your donations to the organization of your choice. We can also schedule pick up for you.

Your trash will be organized and placed outside, following your city’s guidelines.

We can also help you coordinate special trash pick-ups, if needed.

There are wonderful companies specialized in discard pick-up, that work closely with Professional Organizers. These companies will recycle, repurpose, or donate approximately 70 % of the items they pick up. They charge by truck load for this service but the main advantage they offer is that take care of everything at once (donations and trash), eliminating the need to divide discards or having multiple trips to different places.

There are excellent organizations that are good options when it comes to donating those items you no longer need. Many will reuse, recycle, resale or repurpose your discarded items. Visit their websites to learn more about drop-off locations and what they accept.

Very detailed and continues to update you every step of the way. Wonderful ideas that I will continue to use from here on out. A true professional that exceeded all expectations. I will continue to use them on a quarterly basis. Cannot thank them enough!

-Kathryn, Melissa

Maristella is a ball of energy. She whipped my small condo into shape and helped maximize the space. She pushed me to let go of old things I no longer needed to make room for clarity.

– J Shriver, Dallas

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