How to hire a professional organizer for the holidays
(full story below)
by David Caolo
Holiday organizing sometimes means calling in a professional.
The winter holidays represent a busy time for many people. In addition to the day-to-day tasks of running a household, you may take on:
•Planning/hosting a party
•Decorating the house
…and so on. Add to that the general cleaning, laundry, maintenance, homework, etc. of a typical month and it’s very easy to get stretched way too thin. When that happens you might consider hiring a professional organizer. This extra set of hands can be a real life-saver, if you approach it carefully. Here are a few tips for finding, hiring and getting the most out of a professional organizer around the holidays.
Find the right organizer for you
Hiring the right organizer for you isn’t as easy as firing up Google and contacting the top result. There’s a lot to consider, starting with trust. This is a person who will be working in your home, and potentially be working with stuff you don’t often share with strangers. The truth is just about anyone can call themselves a “professional organizer.” There are, however, a few steps you can take to find a trustworthy, qualified professional.
Your best option is to start with an industry association such as the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). There are NAPO members all over the world however, many countries have their own associations. See the International Federation of Professional Organizing Associations (IFPOA) for an association in your country.
Most associations require their members to have a certain amount of training and carry insurance before they can be listed on the association website. Additionally, members must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.
It is also a good idea to ask around. Perhaps a friend, relative or coworker has used an organizer successfully. Create a list of two or three likely candidates and then schedule interviews.
Spend twenty or thirty minutes to spend talking with each candidate. Many will offer this type of consultation for free. During this chat, you can get to know his or her personality, experience, credentials, history and organizational philosophy. Get even more specific by asking about:
•How long have they been in business?
•What type of organizing do they specialize in?
•What do they charge and is there a written contract?
•Do they prefer to work alone or with others?
•Can they provide references?
Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) has a great list of Frequently Asked Questions about hiring an organizer that may be helpful.
Once you’re satisfied with that I think of as the “technical” aspect, move on to the tricker questions, like:
•How do they deal with clients who have a strong sentimental attachment to items?
•Can they remove items marked for donation?
•Will they purchase organizing items like baskets and bins or is that my responsibility?
A consultation can help you get the kick-start you need, find the right person and most importantly, identify the person you’re going to get along with.
How much will an organizer cost?
Rates for a professional organizer can range from about $50 to $100 an hour, and most have a 2–3 hour minimum requirement. You’ll want to know if he or she charges by the hour or by the project. Rates may vary between geographical areas and travel charges may apply depending on your location. While it’s possible to find that person who will work for $20 per hour, that “bargain” might not deliver the results you’re looking for.
This one might sound silly, but ask if they have advertising on their car. Perhaps you don’t want the neighbors to know you’ve brought someone in. Most organizers have confidentiality agreements to protect your privacy. If the organizer doesn’t mention this, raise the subject with him/her.
Also, know just what type of work you’re looking for. In this instance, you might want help with prepping for a party or organizing holiday decorations. Therefore, someone who specializes in bathrooms or kitchens might not be your best choice.
Pro organizer or personal assistant?
Perhaps you want to go in the other direction entirely. That is to say, hire someone to take care of the little errands while you stay home and organize the party, put the decorations away neatly and efficiently, etc. In this case, a personal assistant may be what you need. Websites like Care.com can help you find one.
In any case, best of luck with getting it all done. Hiring an organizer or assistant can be a great way to reach your goal and enjoy a more stress-free holiday. Let us know how it goes.
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