Who can organize my life?
April 7, 2018 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I want to hire someone to come to my apartment, open up all my closets and cabinets, and tell me how I could improve my life with a little organization. Have you ever done this? And how do I find someone to do this?

I live in a 2 bedroom apartment with my spouse and 2 kids under 2. I don't think we are utilizing our space the way we should. I look at all the amazing organization ideas on pinterest or the stuff I could buy at the Container Store and I know that I WILL NEVER implement them on my own. But I would totally be willing to pay someone to do it for me.

I live in a small city (with no Container Store) and the 4 professional organizers in the area (who have websites so I could find them) seem to focus on downsizing and closet organization. I want someone who can do it all.

Do you have any relevant experience or advice?
posted by cessair to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
The pro organizers do this, they just need some kind of keywords so people can find them, plus you have to start somewhere. If you have a conversation you can ask about the other stuff.

A friend of mine does organization on the side, there's not anything she won't organize. Hell, she's hard to stop once she gets started.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:45 AM on April 7, 2018

I think professional organizers are exactly what you want in the near term. You could also try a residential designer or an architect to help if you think the space itself could be improved or better customized to your needs.

The sad thing is that there’s no system of cute boxes that doesn’t make having too much stuff in too little space suddenly work. In fact, cute boxes and complicated systems just put off the inevitable and thus can be a waste of money and time.

I had a client last year who had in their top goals for a remodel “more storage.” But, they had tons of storage! It was just all full. And they had converted the garage to living space (so lost that storage) but had lined the new space with closets, all full. They had more storage than any of my other clients.
posted by amanda at 11:51 AM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

I hired a professional organizer. I found her by googling for professional organizers in my area. She came in and went through my kitchen cabinets, asking whether I really needed certain items. She culled about six boxes of stuff out of my kitchen and then put everything back in an order that made sense. She didn't use any pinterest tricks or bins with labels, she just made the space more usable. Best $200 I ever spent on that apartment.

I'm considering having her set up my new kitchen, which has tons more space and yet... I can't figure out where some things should go.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 12:07 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

As a note: my friend does work out a list of containment devices (or closet systems, or entire pieces of furniture, if applicable) if that's what her clients are looking for. She's pretty much got the entire inventory of IKEA, Target, Container Store, and the big home decor stores all memorized.

The important part is that if that's what you want, ask about it. The more your organizer knows about your workflow and what you think you want as an end result, the better they can do what's going to work for you. (I have to flat out tell my friend "I'm always going to put Thing in Spot, no matter how many times you try to make it live elsewhere. That's where I want it.")
posted by Lyn Never at 1:03 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you're okay with an amateur, ask around and work out a deal. If I were your friend I would love to do something like this for a little cash!
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:32 PM on April 7, 2018

Best answer: As a Certified Professional Organizer, I can put your mind at ease -- the lack of a Container Store is no more of an impediment to getting organized than the lack of a Whole Foods is an impediment to eating healthy meals. I've been a professional organizer for 17 years in a city where the nearest Container Store is 100+ miles away. 90% of the time I work with clients, I don't have them ever purchase anything for containment; the remaining 10% of the time, Target or Walmart suffice.

Buying containers first is like buying a dress with a plan to lose weight in hoping you'll fit into it after diet and exercise -- you may, or your body may lose weight in the bottom and not the bosom, and the dress may still not fit. Containers are the very FINAL step in organizing; far too often, I show up at clients homes where they have purchases lots of pretty containers which have just added to the clutter. So the first piece of clutter you can get rid of is the notion that the Container Store (or pretty boxes) yield any miracles. Whew! Feel lighter already!? ;-)

Getting organized is about reducing the excess and creating systems. In all my years as a professional, I can tell you that pretty much nobody just needed to rework their space without letting go of excess. People (understandably) think its about their space; it's not. You can live in a mansion or a phone booth, but it's about being realistic about what you have and need (vs. want or don't really wish to think about long enough to make a decision) that is key to everything else.

Systems have two parts -- the physical aspect, where something lives, and the behavioral aspect, training yourself to return things to where they live. Fancy containers, pretty labels, and other things that improve the aesthetics of the situation are generally helpful but not actually necessary to most parts of organizing. And honestly, while Pinterest offers some fun or intriguing tips, it's "organizing porn" that regular busy families can't generally replicate without the results being just like the "cake disaster" copies of Pinterest baking delights. You have two tiny humans in a two-bedroom apartment, so any professional organizer worth her (or his) salt will encourage you to give yourself some grace.

As for finding a professional, it's not clear whether you went through the NAPO website, and as I'm not able to identify your location, I can't make any initial recommendations for POs for you. Just googling for "professional organizer" and your location doesn't necessarily work if a nearby PO lists her (or his) suburb instead of the name of your city or town. And not all professional organizers call themselves that anymore -- some say professional organizer, some say organizing coach, some say productivity and organizing professional.

That's why going through NAPO is the best approach. You'll put your zip code into the search, and I would suggest setting the radius for at least 20 or 25 miles to give yourself a full sense of the options. Each person's listing will show their specialties, but even that is imperfect becasue NAPO recently reduced the specialty listings available from more than 50 to a few dozen because they felt the ability to select (and select from) multiple specialties was overwhelming to potential clients. (That's a whole internal argument there.) So don't select a speciality from the drop-down under residential organizing -- just put in your zip code and a radius.

Also, the reason some of the websites you're looking at focus on downsizing (which is actually the first step in ALL organizing) and closet organizing is that these are the keywords for which most people seeking tangible organizing search. Most professional organizers who organize closets will also organize cabinets and drawers and shelves and "spaces" just as well. Again, remember that the keys to an organized system are both physicial and behavioral, so a professional is going to be training you as much as moving things around, and your success is going to be based on your willingness to change your behaviors as much as allowing parts of your space to be changed.

I've posted a lot in response to other inquiries about organizing before, so you may want to scroll through some of these:




I think the first of the above posts will help you get what you need, but after you do your NAPO search, feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions about the process.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2018 [58 favorites]

Yep, I hired a professional organizer after reading The Wrong Kind of Cheese’s answer to the AskMe question about the widow dealing with her late husband’s hobby materials, and it was a huge help!
posted by matildaben at 3:38 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

You might (???) also be interested in chapters 3 and 4 of the book "Algorithms to Live By" which speaks to effective (vs. aesthetic) ways to organize your possessions and records. It is a bit of a nerdy book, but maybe if you have ready access to a public library or Kindle Unlimited you might want to review that. Of course, a professional organizer may have the same opinions.
posted by forthright at 4:17 PM on April 21, 2018

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