By Marni Jameson
“Here’s the dirty little secret,” said one professional organizer (doesn’t that phrase just make you lean?). “Professional organizers hire professional organizers.”
That’s all I needed to hear. As I interviewed organizing professionals and their clients, I kept thinking: I want an organizer to come to my house! But wait, am I not supposed to be an expert?
On the other hand, doctors need doctors, don’t they? Lawyers need lawyers. Therapists need therapists. So why wouldn’t an interior design columnist and downsizing expert hire a professional organizer? We all have blind spots.
I found Certified Professional Organizer Kim Krogh of Orlando on the National Association of Productivity & Organizing website. (http://www.napo.net) A member of NAPO, Krogh has worked as a professional organizer since 2008.
When I asked her how she got into this business, she told me that as a military spouse who had moved 27 times in 30 years, she had become a bit too good at purging, packing, moving and settle down. “I was driving my family crazy,” she said. “One day my husband asked me if I could apply these skills elsewhere.”
I decide not to share this anecdote with my husband, who for several days would surely like to subcontract me too.
After speaking with her on the phone, I hired Krogh, who charges $70 per hour with a three-hour minimum.
Confirming that I’m not a total fraud, she said shortly after arriving: “In 13 years of doing this, I may have been to another house where I wondered, ‘Why am I here? “, Did she say.
“I’ll show you why you’re here,” I said, and led her to the pantry, laundry room, and problem areas of my kitchen.
Although she called me a minimalist (thank you), we still found something to work with, which proves, even if you don’t have too many things, you can still have them in the wrong place.
The next three hours―and here’s the confession―were the best three hours I’ve had so far this year. Better than fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Together, Krogh and I cleaned, purged, consolidated, made sense of nonsense, grouped, tidied, labeled, and found joy in efficiency. We had a blast. At least I did.
It may be a genetic condition, but seeing my house come together ranks high on my satisfaction scale, as does having a new puppy and paying my kids’ final school fees.
So here’s the takeaway: Wherever you are on the cluttered home spectrum, whether you’re a horrifying hoarder or a minimalist monk, a skilled organizer can make your space work better. They have tips and solutions for problems you can’t even see. Here are six ways I learned firsthand how a professional organizer can help.
1. They help you get rid of what you secretly want to get rid of. Professional organizers don’t force you to give up anything, but gently nudge you in the direction you’re already heading. I showed Krogh a cabinet full of frilly holiday dishes and showed off a trio of ivory Lenox candy dishes with gold edges. “They belonged to my mother, but I never use them.” “Why not?” she asked. “They seem so difficult. Those Silver Star dishes were really cheap, but I like them,” I added. “So you don’t like those dishes, and don’t use them, and you have dishes that you like better and use…” Difficult dishes are gone.
2. They follow the four commandments of the organization. Sort, purge, organize, containerize. In the pantry, Krogh took everything out and made groups: crackers, nuts, preserves, sauces, etc. As I threw out expired items, she labeled acrylic bins, which she had instinctively brought with her. She filled the bins and placed them on the deep shelves, where you could pull them out like drawers, creating better visibility and access. With condiments in a bin, you can see you have three bottles of French’s mustard, and you won’t spill the soy sauce to get to the maple syrup.
3. They see what you stopped seeing. Krogh opened a kitchen desk drawer filled with old eyeglasses. Uh, why? And the candles and votives, which I had spread over two cabinets, and mixed with bug spray, flashlights, and a set of French lesson CDs, wouldn’t they be better unified in a dedicated candle cabinet? Ended.
4. They find solutions you wouldn’t have thought of. Getting a rolling laundry hamper to contain and control the bulky central vacuum hose in my pantry, where I previously had to wrestle with it like an underwater monster, was life changing.
5. They give homework. To make the most of his time and my money, Krogh made suggestions for moves that I could do myself later. She recommended that I organize my bags of gift wrapping supplies in a plastic bin and consolidate my gardening supplies on a garage shelf. Also done.
6. They don’t judge. Properly trained organizers are agnostic about your business and lifestyle. They know customers are nervous about exposing the dark undersides of their homes, but if these pros have an opinion on your politically extreme reading material or the empty whiskey bottles in your desk drawer, they do not express it. Although Krogh would have been within her rights to comment on the half-eaten chocolate Santa Claus buried in my pantry, she just slipped the Santa Claus in a bag and put it in the bin labeled “Candy”, as if she was a household saint, which she just might be.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “What to do with everything you own to leave the legacy you want”, “Reducing the size of the family home – what to save, what to let go,” and “Reducing the size of the mixed house – When two households become one.” You can reach her at www.marnijameson.com.