"All I can do is follow my instincts, because I'll never please everyone." - Emma Watson
Back in May of 2013, I published a post about all of the ways a professional organizer can set your work and life up for success and greater peace of mind. But while many people are fairly familiar with what an organizer can do, the decision to ask someone to come in and see your personal, disorganized hot mess should not be taken lightly. Call me crazy, but I don't think someone should choose an organizer solely on the basis of who is offering a Groupon or has a nice graphic on their website. There's nothing wrong with either of those things, and many talented organizers offer discounts, or have neat acronyms and catchy themes for their methods. But remember that if you are looking to hire a professional, the person you choose will be someone that should (in the best scenario) be learning a lot about your work and/or home life. The person you choose will be handling a lot of your stuff, and perhaps digging deeply into a lot of your past. Is that sort of process best handed over to just anyone?
I am astounded sometimes at how few questions potential clients ask me about my qualifications and background before they hire me. I'm an open book, folks. Ask me how long I've been doing this, or if I can provide references, or if I'm insured. Ask me something.
Successful organizing involves a connection between you and the person you are entrusting with facilitating your decision-making process, and with setting things up to give you control over your possessions. How do you know if you will work well together? How can you tell whether or not they really "get" your situation? It works both ways. At the NAPO Conference I attended recently in Phoenix, I heard mentioned over and over in a variety of ways, "Think about who your perfect client is, and target yourself to that client." I've been mulling that one over ever since. While I like to think I can get along with most anyone, I recognize the wisdom. We all have different life experiences that inform the way we serve clients, and while I have had great experiences on most jobs, I've also had a couple of situations where I could tell the client was not picking up what I was putting down. In one of those cases, they were trying to organize before they were truly ready. In at least one other, (as much as I hate to admit it) we just didn't "click".
I won't be the perfect organizer for everyone. However, another thing I learned about at the NAPO Conference was the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. It comes along with the book by Tom Rath - buy the book, take the assessment, learn your core strengths. I won't bore you with my results, but the process really helped me to define some things.
Bottom line for me? I love (and need) to work with clients who want to learn, appreciate detail, who are ready to enter a new phase, who like clear, easy-to-follow systems, and who want to understand more about the connections between their lives, their clutter and their productivity. Wrap all of that up in a bit of humor and we're good.
Bottom line for you...I think you should take some time to learn about the person you're considering hiring to help you organize. Ask some questions about things like specialties, experience, education, professional affiliations and confidentiality policies. Maybe even ask about some interests (are you a reader? dog lover? steampunk enthusiast?). Make the organizing match that fits you.
So, am I your organizer? Ask me a few questions - I'd love for us to find out.
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?