5 Simple Steps To Organize Your Garage For Spring

Garage 2

Ah, spring is almost here! Unless you are an avid winter sportsman, winter can feel almost as long as the other seasons combined. The most popular ritual of spring has to be cleaning off the barbeque and I think the second most popular has to be cleaning out the garage. It’s almost like therapy!

Here is my 5 step simple checklist to help you along in this task.

1) Take a general tour

Start with a general tour of the garage to get an idea of what needs to be done. You don’t want to get started and realize it is a very big job and get discouraged.

Messy garage

Not too bad? Great! Looks like a big job? Enlist the help of your spouse, kids, your neighbor or a professional.

2 ) Give yourself time
Set the time aside. If it looks like just a tidy and upkeep job then set aside an afternoon to get things done. Otherwise plan a whole day to get it done. If you finish earlier, so much the better.

3) Get ready, go!
Get started. Take stock of everything you have and start to sort into three piles – keep, toss and donate. The donate pile is your easiest as most charities will pick up donations or you can drive them to your favorite local charity site and drop them off.

The items designated for tossing must be sorted according to your local trash pick up regulations. Items such as paint, chemicals and fluorescent tubes must be taken to a special disposal site that you can easily find on line. Now we are left with the items you wish to keep. Sort these items into piles – garden equipment, automotive supplies, sporting goods, etc.

4) Determine storage
Determine the type of storage system you require. At the front of my garage I have a resin 5 level storage shelf where I keep my gardening supplies roller blades, automotive cleaning products, etc. I have each shelf labeled so anyone in the house knows where to put things once they have been used. I have even assigned a spot for my husband’s empty bottles…… who wants those old bottles hanging around the house?

Organized garage

All of your shovels, rakes, etc. can be hung on a wall with any one of many systems that are available, or just by using a 2 x 4 strapped securely in place with a few hooks. Just make sure you secure it to studs to prevent them from falling down later.

5) Clean sweep
Get rid of the winter dirt. Now that everything is up and out of the way you can give the floor a good sweeping and cleaning to get rid of the dirt and salt that has fallen from the car over the winter. Hint – unless you want dust kicking up in your face pick up some floor sweeping compound and put it down prior to sweeping. It will help to keep dust from getting in the air and into your home. Some of you may even want to put down an epoxy coat on the floor to protect the concrete and reduce the dust.

Do it again in the fall. Don’t forget to take anything that can freeze out of the garage and into the house in the fall. That is a good time for another cleaning before winter sets in. I know, I mentioned the dreaded W word before it is even over!

I know most men are itching to get back into the garage to clean it up and to get back into their “tinkering”. Follow the steps above to get your garage cleaned and organized for the spring and maybe reclaim some of that space in the basement. If hubby is too busy or is “organizationally challenged” contact us here for assistance.

Storage Locker Organization Toronto

Storage Locker Organization

Not too long ago I was faced with the challenge of organizing two condominium storage lockers for “winter cleaning”. It was quite a challenge as the owner of the lockers, as well as his two sons, are sports enthusiasts and involved in everything from hockey, lacrosse, golf and fishing to mountain biking and more.

Who owns more than one set of golf clubs? We must have hauled four or five sets out of there. There were balls, sticks, skates, bats and every other imaginable type of sports equipment all over the place.

Condo Locker AfterThe main storage locker had to accommodate all the sports gear and they needed something for easy transitioning from one type of sport to another, as well as store all seasonal items. It was quite a challenge but one that I was up for. The locker was an obstacle course and in a state of disorganization making it virtually impossible to maneuver and reach anything without tripping and falling over stuff.

Faced with two concrete walls and two wire grid walls, being creative and having a vision was essential to be successful in this project. Most condominiums have very strict rules regarding storage lockers and what you can and cannot do. Utilizing new storage shelving, re-configuring the space and sectioning off parts of the locker into specific zones for sports and seasonal holiday items was the most efficient and functional way to work through this project without breaking any condominium rules.

Getting Started

My client was so excited about this project that within 30 minutes of starting the final organization and set up session, he actually sent his girlfriend down to see what was happening with the space. Then not long after that he came down himself, on 2 or 3 different occasions, to “nonchalantly” check it out and see the transformation taking place. He was like a little boy at Christmas, he just couldn’t wait.

We started by taking everything out of the locker and once it was all out I thought to myself “how is all this going to fit back in?” Next we installed shelving along the back wall for ball gloves, shoes and the like. Once we had all of the sports sectioned off onto the shelves we labeled each shelf with the type of sport that belonged on that shelf.

With some inexpensive “S” hooks we hung the golf clubs and skis onto the mesh fencing so they each had a home and could not fall over. From the ceiling we hung a mesh bag and placed the basketballs and volleyballs. Prior to this they were always rolling around on the floor becoming a major trip hazard.

The big reveal!

When I completed the final touches my client came down for the big reveal and was thrilled with the outcome. He now had an organized space where he could store all of his sports equipment where it would be easy to retrieve and not be in danger of falling over. He even had room for all of his Christmas decorations, which again were labeled on the shelves.

Before I left we reviewed exactly what had been done with his two sons so they would know where their sports equipment was to go when they were done with it. Based on my client’s reaction to our project I know he will be staying on top of the kids to ensure an organized and safe space.

It was a challenging experience and the outcome was a successful transformation into a fully accessible, safe and functional space. You could even see the floor! What’s your next challenge?  If you require assistance give us a call by contacting us here.

How To Talk To Your Parents About Downsizing And Letting Go

It’s a conversation we never want to have but for a lot of us the time will come when we need to talk to mom and dad about moving out of the family home into something smaller and more manageable or perhaps even into assisted living.

You may have noticed that they just can’t keep up with the family home any longer and for physical or financial requirements they need to move.

These tips and suggestions can take a little bit of the pain out of that sensitive conversation.

Start the conversation early

Don’t wait until the move is imminent. Start the conversation early on to let your parents know that you’re thinking of them and their welfare. Talk to them just to find out how open they are to the option and whether they’ve been thinking about it themselves. If you wait until the crisis has started you are apt to make plans that are less thought out causing undue stress on them and you.

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Parents really don’t want to be a burden on their children so I think you’ll find they may be quite receptive to talking about it early to let you know how they feel about it and to express their specific wishes.

Make sure everyone agrees

It’s important to have all the siblings, and in laws as well, on the same page. Whether mom and dad are going to live with you, move into a smaller home or reside in assisted living it’s important that all family members agree on the plan and agree with the decision made by the parents.

Leave any emotional baggage or past disagreements outside. What’s best for your parents is what’s important here. Sometimes one sibling can feel guilty about placing parents in assisted living or wants them to stay in the family home for personal reasons. If you are not all on the same page it will cause anxiety and chaos for your parents.

Deciding what will go with them

Any move is likely going to result in smaller spaces. If your parents have lived in their current home for a long period of time you can bet they have accumulated a lot of memories and treasures.

Crowded home

Find out what is most important to them and see if it can be accommodated in the new home. If not, there are a lot of options to keep the memories close by such as memory books, shadow boxes and storage containers. Moving is tough enough but holding on to some of the most important memories will ease the stress.

Deciding what to do with the rest

Our parents are probably the last of the generations that hang on to things. Today we don’t hold much value for things like china or formal dining room sets. Our taste in clothes and jewellery is also much different.

Your parents may believe that everything they have still holds value and it does. Just maybe not the value they believe. Find out what charities they support and suggest they donate to that cause. Hold an estate sale or consign the larger items for sale if they want or need the funds. If need be you can always have a professional appraiser come in to have a final say on the value. If there are items being left to certain family members perhaps mom and dad want to give the item to them now so they can see them get the use out of it.

Keep them safe

Let your parents know that the discussions you are having and the assistance you are giving them is out of love and you are looking out for their best interests. You don’t want them to be burdened with a home they cannot take care of any longer nor do you want their new home to become a safety/trip hazard with items they don’t want or need in the new smaller quarters.

It can be a tough, gut wrenching conversation but if you start it early, be supportive and let them know it is out of love the conversation will go a lot easier. If you need help with the process of de-cluttering, downsizing or moving to smaller spaces contact me here and we can chat.

5 Signs You May Be Chronically Disorganized And What You Can Do About It

We are all a little disorganized in some aspects of our life but for some of you being disorganized affects your day-to-day living. Lets begin with defining what chronic disorganization is (also known as “challenging disorganization”).

Being chronically disorganized is defined as being disorganized for a long period of time during which you have not responded to attempts at self-help. It has a negative impact on the quality of your life and can also affect your relationship with others.

It’s normal to feel a little disorganized when certain life events happen, like a death in the family, when you move or even something as simple as having a house full of visitors over for an evening.

You may recover from these events quite quickly but if you are chronically disorganized these events just add to your current challenges. If you are chronically disorganized it’s important to remember that it is a condition, and not a flaw in your character.

There are many signs that point to being chronically disorganized. Lets look at 5 of them.

1. Unable To Find Things

I frequently have trouble finding things myself, especially when I’m in a rush. Sometimes another family member has put something away in a spot totally different to where I keep it. For me and most people, it only happens once in a while and does not impact my life.

If you are chronically disorganized you’re always looking for something that you need and often you’ve left it to the last minute so panic now sets in and chaos ensues. This can lead to missed appointments, being late in making payments (leading to late fees or a bad mark on the credit rating) and can even have an adverse effect on your health with higher blood pressure and anxiety.

2. Cluttered Living Area

A very visible sign of being chronically disorganized is the condition of your living area. If you have small children in your home I’ll bet you feel that your home is always disorganized with toys and baby accessories seemingly everywhere. Do you have a husband who maybe forgets to pick up after himself? No need to worry, we all go through this.

Cluttered living area

If you are chronically disorganized you live in a cluttered state that affects you to the point where you perhaps cannot find most things and may even have to clear things out of the way just to find a place to sit. In extreme cases this can lead to a safety issue with trip hazards on the floor or the room becoming a fire hazard.

3. Off Site Storage Is Required For Possessions

This happens more than you would think. We all love our possessions or “stuff” as George Carlin used to say, but you may acquire an over attachment to belongings for sentimental or other reasons. It may be that you find items that are too good to pass on, whether somebody is getting rid of something they feel has value or when shopping a sale is too good to pass. Your thinking may be   “why spend more on an item later” when you can get it on sale now. What a deal, right? Before you know it you have more than you can keep track of and you forget where everything is so you buy more, and the cycle continues.

Typically a lot of these items will spoil or become contaminated thus turning into a health hazard. Of course there is the cost of outside storage to keep in mind, a cost that is probably really not needed.

4. Missed Deadlines

Whether at home or at work, if you are chronically disorganized you may frequently miss deadlines. At work this can of course affect your career path and in the worst cases can lead to dismissal.Missed deadline

At home missing deadlines can lead to late payments causing financial penalties. Failure to get your financial information to your bank on time can lead to not taking advantage of a low mortgage rate. Your children could be missing out on something fun at school because you failed to get a document back to school on time. Deadlines are important and missing them affects just more than you.

5. Work Evaluations Focus On Improving Organizational Skills

Has your boss ever “suggested” that you improve your organizational skills? If you are chronically disorganized, it is not likely to be just affecting your home. It’s part of your life such that you may be disorganized at work as well. Are you busy at work and juggling a few projects at the same time? Not being organized will have an impact on your reviews and thus your salary increases. In extreme cases jobs could be lost thereby losing your sole source of income.

These are just 5 signs of a chronically disorganized person. There are many more. Chronic disorganization is a condition that can be changed. It takes time, patience and an organizational system designed specifically for you, to learn what you need, what is cherished, to set caps on categories of items and to learn how to make the system work for you.

5 Signs You May Have Hoarding Tendencies

Ever since the introduction of television shows like “Hoarders” and the rest of them that followed, the term “hoarding’, in my opinion, is now too commonly used. It’s estimated that between 2% and 5% of the North American population exhibit some type of hoarding behaviour. We are a society of stuff and most of us have more stuff than we need. What really constitutes a person with a hoarding disorder?

Acquiring items – Is it really a hobby?

Everyone needs a hobby. Hobbies show the world what we are interested in and can be very relaxing, easing a lot of tension. Some of you collect stamps, records, pop bottles and anything else you can think of and I personally have seen some very interesting displays of things that people collect.

collecting

Acquiring items can be an emotional experience for you and it feels good to you to purchase and to have items. However, when the collecting of items begins to impact your life in a negative way such that your collection has taken over, it’s no longer a hobby. You may have a tendency to hoard.

Has your social life been affected?

Hoarding is normally a source of embarrassment to the individual with hoarding tendencies such that you no longer want to have anyone over for fear of anyone seeing the way you live or the state that your home has become. Many people with hoarding tendencies become reclusive and lack the human interaction that we all need.

Do you have an excuse or rationale for keeping everything?

If you have a hoarding tendency you’re very good at rationalizing the need to keep what you have. “It’s worth something” or “I may need it one day” are common statements you may make. True “hoarders” are very creative and can see a use for anything and everything that is acquired. Possessions become part of your identity and therefore are hard to deal with. De-cluttering is typically a bad word in the vocabulary of persons with a hoarding disorder.

Have you been injured getting around your home?

Have you tripped and fallen over something in your home because there is too much to be stored properly? Are rooms not accessible due to the unorganized piles of goods in them? Has your home become something of a safety hazard?

danger-sign-adn-falling2

Too many unorganized possessions can become a trip or a fire hazard or even a health hazard if mould starts to appear. Your collection and your possessions have value but not if they’re are a hazard to you.

Does what you keep have true value?

Take a real hard look at what you collect or have accumulated. Are you keeping old newspapers and magazines? What about clothes that no longer fit or are worn or you’ve not worn for a long time? Do you have any small appliances that you know you will get around to fixing “some day”? These types of items my have no real sentimental nor monetary value and therefore there may be no valid reason to hang onto them.

If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or in a loved one it may be time to address it before it gets out of control.

Start with a small project that you know will take minimal time to sort and edit. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and spur you on to continue. If you need assistance seek out the help of family or friends or a professional.

If you need professional help ClutterBGone has many years of compassionate experience in helping people de-clutter in the Toronto area. Just contact me here.

5 Signs That Your Parents Are Ready To Downsize

We all go through the stages of home ownership in our lives. First we rent, then we buy our first home, then we move into a larger home when we have a family and finally we downsize as we grow older.

Do your parents need some help in making this life changing decision? Here are 5 signs that they may be ready to downsize into something more manageable.

Are they having difficulty with the current upkeep?

Your parents want, and need, their independence. But sometimes pride gets in the way in refusing to downsize and acknowledge that they just can’t accomplish what they used to. The family home was just that – a family home. Purchased quite a while ago when there were children in the house. All of the children have moved out and have started their own families and your parents are still in the same house.

As the home gets older things start to need maintenance and repair resulting in expense or your parents reaching their physical limitations. If you see them struggling to maintain the home or property or are keeping it for sentimental reasons, it’s probably a good time to have a gentle discussion centered around moving.

Are they having financial issues?

Once you stop working you become dependant on your own savings and/or government assistance. It’s nice to know that your prescription costs are covered by the government when you reach the age of 65 and doctors visits are also covered. However not everything is 100% covered and let’s face it, as we get older we can normally expect to start dishing out for medical expenses not covered.

elderly_finances

Entertainment costs, vacations and the home expenses start to eat away at savings. Many of the older generation believe in paying off the mortgage as soon as possible and using the value of the home towards their retirement.

Well, perhaps financial challenges are now coming to play and the equity in their home can be used to help them in their later years. They don’t have to be further away just because they sell their home. Many parents are now moving in with their adult children. Finally! Some revenge!

Are they having difficulty finding things?

When you visit your parents and you ask to see a family picture or a memento that you know they have, do they have difficulty in finding it or can’t locate it at all?

I’m not talking about the medical diagnosis of dementia here, just not being able to find something because of all the stuff your parents have in the home. It’s nice to be surrounded by items from the past but not if they are packed away because of the volume of items in the house.

I’ve suggested to many families that they create a Memory Box with the most important photos and remembrances and hang it on a wall for all to see. Just the sight of these items will bring back a lot of memories to cherish. If your parents are keeping a home just because they can’t fit everything they currently have into smaller quarters it is time to talk about downsizing and reorganization.

Do you feel your parents are not safe in their home?

As your parents age they may not be able to get around like they used to and perhaps don’t have the reflexes that they once had. Things they could easily manoeuvre around before or step over may now be a trip and fall hazard.

Elderly tripping cartoon

Remember that old television commercial with the lady who fell? – “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. If you feel your parents safety is being compromised by having too much stuff in the house, it is time to discuss downsizing.

Are they looking for a little freedom in their lives?

Perhaps your parents secretly want to buy that motor home or want to leave the cold for a couple of months in the winter. They feel guilty about spending that kind of money or feel guilty about being away from the kids or the grandchildren. They’ve probably worked hard most of their lives and they deserve to do these things while they still can. Let them know that they have plenty of time to visit in the warmer months and that by downsizing they will have the funds to enjoy themselves.

Downsizing may not be right for everyone but many of our parents are going to do it. Look for the signs and have the gentle conversation with them. It is of course their decision, but downsizing could have a very positive impact on their lives.

ClutterBGone has assisted many families with this life transitions and would be pleased to assist you as well. Contact us here for more information or to have any questions answered.

What is a Professional Organizer?

After having published many hundreds of blogs over the past few years I realized that I should probably write one about just what a professional organizer is. I get many phone calls from prospective clients and the first things they ask is “what do you do?” and “how do you do it?”

Peter Walsh QuoteMore than just stuff

Organizing is a lot more complex than just going through your “stuff” and deciding what stays and what goes. I like to tell people during our initial consultation that hiring an organizer is similar to hiring a plumber, landscaper, cleaning service or a plumber. We are here to perform the tasks that need to be done and for which you just don’t have the skill, time, ability or the inclination to do yourself.

Reduced stress immediately

You know that feeling of calm and accomplishment after your house is cleaned? Well, it’s even more powerful, positive and transformational right after your home is professionally organized. You will experience a feeling of calm and your stress level will be automatically reduced. Guaranteed! Even better, we will leave you with a system to keep you organized.

Trained, skilled specialists

Professional organizing is an industry that has been developed in order to help individuals and businesses design systems and processes using organizing principles and transferring skills. We are trained, skilled specialists who help people create order where it is lacking in their lives, so that you can make long-term improvements and keep disorder at bay.

We have professional training and expertise. We will come in and assess not only what needs to be done but also drill down on how the disorder came to be in the first place and then develop and methodology for tackling the problem and creating a system that works for you to keep you organized long after we have left.

Tailoring organized systems

We get to know you and how you work and create and tailor systems around you instead of taking a cookie cutter approach. We stay up to date on the latest organizing trends and know all of the storage containers and systems that will work for you, as well as those that won’t.

Relationships with resources

We know and have solid relationships with all of the trades, stores and charities in your area so if you need a trade to take away refuse or need a storage locker we can recommend one and pass along our industry discount to you. Do you need painters, handymen, shredding companies or the like? We have you covered with reputable people we use and trust. If you want to donate any goods or sell any at a consignment shop we can recommend the best ones.

We work with a wide group of people and companies to de-clutter and organize. Families that need help after the loss of a loved one, blended families, people downsizing, seniors moving to smaller homes and people who just need help in sorting through the too many possessions that they have accumulated.

Organizing not just tidying up or cleaning. It is so much more than that. If you need a transformation in your home or your life, that’s where a professional organizer comes in. You would like to learn more about how we can create change in your life, contact us here.

The Right Way To Organize For Your Move

At ClutterBGone we have taken on a lot of projects involving a move over the years. They start out as an organizing and downsizing project to get clients ready to move house. Then during the initial sessions the clients see the value and investment in hiring us to assist with not only the downsizing but with organizing the packing, the move, the unpacking, settling in and then setting up and organizing at the new home to make it efficient and functional from day 1.

Organized-moving-day-boxes.jpgSo with moving season upon us I decided to let you know how best to organize for your move.

Three months before your move have the mover or the rental truck booked. Most important is to get references or a referral to someone you can trust. Summer is a busy time for moving as parents want to get their kids settled into a new school for the beginning of the school year.

Can you move early in the month or in the middle? There will be more availability as most moves are done near month end. If you are hiring a company get references and ensure everything is in writing.

At least 60 days before your move begin the job of sorting and paring down. You are going to be busy enough closer to move day than to be worrying about this task and why pay to have things moved that you are not going to need or use in your new home? You will also have a feeling of calm once you’ve moved into your new home without having that pile of stuff that you don’t know what you are going to do with.

30 days out is the time to ensure you have the correct supplies. Boxes can be ordered from your mover or purchased from a local moving supply company or even a hardware store. Three sizes should be sufficient. If you have hired a moving company you may want to inquire about wardrobe boxes and the cost for each. They are very handy for moving your clothes. You will also need a tape gun or two, good quality shipping tape, box cutters, lots of packing paper, bubble wrap and a few markers and labels.

3 weeks before your move make sure all of your change of address notifications are completed and start packing everything you know you will not need until after the move. As you get closer to the date you can pack more. Once the boxes are sealed mark the room to which they are to be delivered once you arrive at the new home so you are not slowed down. Use up the food you have in the fridge and freezer during this time as well.

Moving day. Pack a suitcase with incidentals in case you need anything during the day. If at all possible have someone look after the kids for the day as you don’t want the little ones under your feet during this hectic time. If at all possible have your own lock put on the truck once everything has been loaded so only you can open it at the other end. And finally, don’t stress it. Be thankful you don’t move very often.

If you are moving this year best of luck. And if you would love to be packed up, moved in and settled in all in a matter of a few days, give me a call and learn how we can make that happen, stress free, so you can enjoy your new home from Day 1!

6 Important Things to Consider When Packing & Moving To A Dorm

So your child is leaving the security of the family home and taking up residence to attend school. Let’s wipe that grin off your face and talk about how to pack and prepare them for the move. Whether they are staying on campus or renting a room off campus, chances are they are going to have a lot less space than they currently do at home.

bedroom-design-ideas-for-college-students-1Furnished room?

Are they sharing the room with someone else? Is there a common kitchen? A shared bathroom? Now that that’s established let’s get started, Keep in mind that essentials only is the way to go. You can always add later with a visit from mom and dad or a trip to Walmart.

Dimensions

Try to get the room dimensions ahead of time in order to determine what can go and what cannot with respect to furniture – bed, table, desk, etc. Think small, streamlined and multi-functional.

Before the move, set up a staging area at home a month or so prior to start to organize what is going. There are 2 reasons for this: One, you can prepare for the move in advance and secondly a visual of what is planned to go can usually work as a visual to determine what is actually essential and what will stay at home.

Clothes

Most kids love their clothes and have a lot of shoes (even males now own a lot of “kicks”) but space is going to be at a premium. Pare it down to what they really need knowing that they will be coming home for occasional weekends and holidays so they can exchange clothing items or even trade the lighter clothing for heavier when the seasons change.

Do not pack into suitcases if you can help it. Once empty they are going to be hard to store in small quarters. Pack into garbage bags that can be repurposed later or tossed out. Garment bags will also work well. If sending along a small dresser, simply pack the items in the dresser, shrink wrap, and away you go.

Personal effects

For personal effects such as toothbrush, razors and the like make sure your child has a small travel bag to carry to the bathroom or even to store these items in. It is easy to carry, easy to identify and less likely to misplace these essentials.

Important documents and possessions

Don’t forget to send some small containers for change, jewelry and other small items that they may have so it all can be kept contained and organized.

Will they need a small safe for money, passport or other important papers?

Most importantly make sure that all prescriptions are up to date and they have sufficient quantity for the time they will be away.

Food & snacks

Send some storage bags so they can keep a few select food items in their room without the nuisance of the smell or bugs.

Many colleges also have a list of items to bring based on their type of accommodations. Check them out ahead of time. Moving from home to a temporary residence for school can be a stressful time for both them and for you, but a little bit of planning can ease the stress and create an organized move and transition to dorm life.

If you wish to learn more about how we can help with getting your child ready for this big step, or if you require assistance in reclaiming the space left behind, contact me here and we can chat.

6 Critical Questions You Should Ask A Professional Organizer

modern condoProfessional organizing is a growing business for a number of reasons. With most families having dual incomes there is more money people are able to spend on tasks they either don’t have time to do themselves, don’t have the skill or the physical ability or simply don’t want to do themselves.

We find that the majority of our clients are focused on spending whatever time they have available to do the things they really want to do and enjoy doing.

Also, many families are now downsizing to smaller homes as they get ready to retire and don’t have the knowledge or ability to downsize themselves. Many do not want to take things with them that they know they will no longer need.

Lastly, many older adults are transitioning from their own homes to community or retirement residences or transitioning to living with family and therefore require help with the downsizing, packing, space planning and the move. As this business grows, so too do the companies and individuals that provide the service.

We are always wanting to educate our current and potential clients so here are the top questions you should ask a Professional Organizer before you hire one.

1. What are your qualifications?

Here in Canada there is a professional association for professional organizers (PO’s) called the POC – Professional Organizers of Canada. Members are bound by their code of ethics to ensure that you receive trusted, confidential and committed service. Beware however that an individual can simply pay membership to the POC without having been trained so be sure you are hiring a PO that is in fact trained and has a good deal of experience and excellent communication skills. Having a background in either psychology or sociology is extremely helpful.

2. Do you have insurance?

Much like movers, Professional Organizers should carry their own liability insurance to cover accidents or damage however caused. Of course we are all careful in our work but you never know when an accident can happen and if it does you want to ensure that you and the PO are covered. After all, it is your home we are coming in to.

3. What is your pricing.

Make sure you have a complete understanding of what you are being charged and for what services. Some PO’s charge an initial assessment fee while others do not.   An hourly or a job rate can vary but the least expensive quote may not be the best. Some PO’s charge less than others, but their working pace is a lot slower or they take frequent breaks so you actually end up paying more in the end. Some are just learning the ropes so their cost is lower as well but the outcome may not compare to that of an experienced organizer.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  In our business we like to say “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!”

4. How many people are working on the project?

Some projects require one experiences lead organizer while others require an experienced assistant as well, or perhaps a team of organizers.  Does the company you are contacting have these staff or do they put out a “cattle call” for helpers.  At ClutterBGone for example, we have a dedicated team of professionals and don’t bring anyone on a project that we have not interviewed or trained.

5. How long have you been doing this?

I recently spoke to someone whose main occupation was that of a cleaning lady and she came upon an opportunity to make some extra cash to help a client “downsize”. It was an incredibly large project for someone with absolutely no experience as a PO. She called me looking for tips on how to help this client of hers and what to charge. From my chat with her it was obvious she had never done this before, was in fact quite judgmental with respect to the way the client was living and she lacked tactful communication. I was quite taken aback by how she spoke about her client.  I did not think this person should at all attempt the project as I was quite concerned.

Without having the skills and training (note that simply being an organized person is not enough!) you can actually cause clients emotional pain. Like any other business it is difficult to get started and to get some experience under your belt but if you have a big job that needs to be done ensure that whoever does it is experienced.
6. Do you have references? You would be amazed at the number of people that are embarrassed to ask for references. Get three and call one or two. Be sure to ask them at the end if they would hire them again if required and if not, why not?

So those are the must ask questions when you are looking for a Professional Organizer to help with your project. Ensure they are insured, experienced and have references to back it up.  If you have an organizational project and want to learn more about how we can help you, contact me here and we can chat.