What exactly IS a Professional Organizer?

What exactly IS a Professional Organizer?

I often get asked about my career choice as a Professional Organizer: You mean, you get paid to organize someone else’s life? How does one become a Professional Organizer? Are you sure this is a real profession?

By definition a Professional Organizer is a person who, as their chosen profession organizes other people for a living. But what does that entail exactly? Believe it or not, we Professional Organizers wear a lot of hats.

Think of a Professional Organizer as a combination of the following:
– Project leader
– Time manager
– Cleaning person
– 3-D puzzle whiz
– Accountability partner
– Life coach
– Recovering Perfectionist
– Someone who pays great attention to detail

First and foremost, a Professional Organizer must be a good leader and project manager. They are responsible for keeping the client on track during the organization process, while also making it an enjoyable, learning experience. Similar to a test proctor (think back to your SAT days), a Professional Organizer must keep track of the time allotted to a task, so that items can be taken out, organized, and put back during a session. People would certainly not ask us back if we left a mess each time we came.

A Professional Organizer must also be a good cleaning person. Typically they carry cleaning products with them and clean/dust shelves or areas that they are organizing. A Professional Organizer must also be very good at solving puzzles, especially three-dimensional ones. They must understand how a space can be utilized to its fullest, whether that be using up vertical space, or placing everything ‘just so’ it all fits.

A Professional Organizer likely has some obsessive compulsive tendencies or need for perfection. They like things in their place, and always put away. But if we’re being honest, most Professional Organizers have their faults, too. No one can be perfect all the time, not even a Professional Organizer. Finally, a Professional Organizer acts as a life coach, guiding and teaching their clients through the organizing process. They answer questions, give advice, and teach as much as possible while on the job. Their end goal is to reduce stress and clutter, while saving their clients time and money by setting up custom tailored organizing systems that the client can easily keep up with.

So now you know a bit more about being a Professional Organizer. Professional Organizers may be certified from the National Organization of Professional Organizers, and many are simply NAPO members. They really do make a living by helping other people organize their lives, often improving their overall quality of life. It’s not a skill-set everyone has, and if you don’t, don’t worry. Consider hiring a Professional Organizer to get you started on living a more efficient, clutter-free life.

Lauren Mang
  • Taylor Bishop
    Posted at 17:50h, 21 June Reply

    I never considered that someone could be a professional organizer for their profession. I found it interesting when you compared them to a test proctor. In a strange way, it does make sense. As you said, they have to keep track of time to make sure that everything must be organized and put back in time. Not only that, but they must oversee the whole room(s) and make appropriate changes for the people in there as well. It seems like it would be a simple job, but not everyone can do it well!

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 18:01h, 21 June Reply

      Thanks Taylor. Many Professional Organizers have always had the talent but didn’t realized they could turn it into a job at first. Thankfully the profession is becoming more and more known, and it allows those of us with a unique gift to share it with others. I also compare organizers to personal fitness trainers, but for your clutter. We whip that clutter into shape and show you how you can do it on your own. You may still need us for maintenance from time to time, but you build up that muscle just like you would by training for a 5K or triathlon. Plus it’s a joy to work with different people, each day, on different projects. Variety is the spice of life. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I appreciate it and you!

  • Therese Walker
    Posted at 23:51h, 17 January Reply

    What else can a proffessional organizer do to make money besides work in other peoples homes? How do i get certified as a proffesional organizer?

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 16:45h, 18 January Reply

      Therese, excellent questions! Professional Organizers make money in many ways: public speaking, training new organizers, writing books/blogs, virtual organizing, coaching and more. One of the great things about the professional organizing industry is the wide range of specialties to focus on. Or you can be like me – a generalist who enjoys doing many types of organizing. Unfortunately it’s an unregulated industry on the whole, but you can become a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO) through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO*). I have not yet taken the exam to become a CPO but am working on all the necessary education credits to earn my status. Being a member of NAPO holds me accountable to a code of ethics, offers me a wide range of education and networking opportunities with organizers from around the world, and sets me apart as a professional to my clients. I’m both a national member, a San Francisco chapter member and a Virtual Chapter member. There are chapters in most major cities but you can also join the Virtual Chapter if there is not a physical chapter near you. You can learn more at http://www.napo.net or search for NAPO National via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. If you have additional questions don’t hesitate to email me: lauren(at)letmeorganizeit(dot)com

      *formerly the National Association of Professional Organizers

  • Crystal Haupt
    Posted at 14:34h, 29 August Reply

    Could you hire a professional organizer full time to maintain organization in the house? Similar to hiring a housekeeper?

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 03:40h, 03 September Reply

      It depends on a few things: how much stuff you have; how large your home is; what you mean by full time. If you mean full time as in 20-40 hours a week, likely not. You might be able to find a very organized assistant who can do other things (run errands, cook, nanny, tutor, dog walk, etc.) as well as organize. Or a professional organizer who excels at administrative assisting.

      Housekeepers charge much less per hour than an organizer, so having a professional organizer weekly will be significantly more expensive than a housekeeper. Then again, organizers can do a variety of tasks (photo organization, paperwork organization, digital organization, space planning, time management, productivity training, etc.) so depending on what you need, you could keep an organizer quite busy.

      Sometimes when I’m implementing custom organizing systems for a family, I’ll work with them weekly for several months to a year; or sometimes every other week. Before Covid hit, I was working with about 14 families each month around the house on various projects for over a year. We’d have a standing monthly appointment (1st Monday of the month, for example). I’d work in different areas of the house or projects each time. I hope this helps answer your question. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  • Pat Smyth
    Posted at 17:37h, 21 July Reply

    What does it cost per hour to organize all closets and kitchen pantry and laundry room in the DFW TX area?

    • Lauren Mang
      Posted at 02:13h, 22 July Reply

      You can search for organizers in the DFW area through the NAPO National directory by zip code. These are qualified, professional organizers who can assist you with a variety of organizing and productivity needs.

      Most organizers have an hourly rate (though some do project or flat rates), and rates can range from $60/hr-$200+/hr depending on experience, qualifications, education, certification, insurance, etc.

      I hope that helps.

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