Professional organizing is a branch of the design industry that’s relatively new, and as with any new career, many people get confused about what a professional organizer actually does.
Are you contemplating becoming a professional organizer? Are you an interior decorator or home stager looking to branch out? If you’re trying to sort out what’s true and what’s not about professional organizing, well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top 7 myths about professional organizing—busted!
1. Professional organizers make their clients throw away their stuff
This is the number-one biggest myth about professional organizer, but it’s just that—a myth! Many people are hesitant to hire a professional organizer because they assume that getting organized will mean throwing away their things.
This just isn’t true. While getting organized means cutting down on clutter, a good professional organizer will never try to force a client to throw away something they want to keep. Instead, part of an organizer’s job is to help their clients make smart decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. As a professional organizer, your job will not consist of cajoling sentimental clients into letting go of their stuff!
2. Professional organizers only work with hoarders and slobs
Nope. While an organizer will probably encounter some more serious cases of chaos in their career, most of their clients will just be people who want to make better use of the space they have and develop a better system to keep their house under control.
Even a house that’s “tidy” can benefit from a professional organizer’s attention. A major part of an organizer’s job is to help their clients sort out what they do and don’t need, helping them take control over their spaces by getting rid of unnecessary items. Plus, just because a room or home looks tidy doesn’t mean the owner can find anything.
3. You have to be naturally organized to be a professional organizer
Well, this one is kind of true. But only kind of. Yes, you need to like organizing and being organized, but you don’t have to be born with some kind of organizational gift to become a professional organizer. Like anything else, organization can be learned—and on the flip side, being personally organized doesn’t make you a good professional organizer on its own. Most of your career will involve working with clients to figure out a system that works for them and their lifestyle.
Just like anyone else, professional organizers are only human. Their homes aren’t spotless; they have friends, families, careers, and hobbies that take up time, space, and energy, so naturally they’ll fall behind once in a while. The difference is that professional organizers are invested in creating systems to organize their spaces, lives, and minds—systems that they, and their clients, can actually stick with.
4. Professional organizers just help clients put stuff in plastic bins and organizing units
Not at all. Sometimes professional organizers will encourage their clients to get more storage units, but that comes late in the organizing process, and it’s definitely not the main focus. Clutter stored in a fancy storage unit is still clutter!
Instead, organizers help their clients make thoughtful, well-informed decisions about which possessions they should let go of. Less stuff around the house means less stuff to store, so expensive new bins and units don’t have to be part of the process! Organizers also work with their clients to figure out new ways to use the things they already have, so a lot of “new” storage space comes from spaces and objects that are already in a client’s home.
5. Clients should be out of the house while a professional organizer is working
Definitely not! A professional organizer’s job is to work with their client, not for them. When it comes to paring down possessions, all an organizer can do is make suggestions and help their clients figure out what is and isn’t important to keep. The final say goes to the client, since it’s their space and their stuff, so they need to be there!
Developing a system also takes a lot of face-to-face work. Every client’s needs, habits, personality, and priorities are different, so the system you help them put into place should reflect that. A long-term organizing solution takes a lot of one-on-one work with your client. Many professional organizers have to explain all this to new clients who want the organizer to come “do their thing” while the client is out for the day or away for the weekend.
6. Once a professional organizer has organized a client’s home, the job is done for good
Wrong again. This goes back to the common misconception that a professional organizer’s job is to “tidy” or “neaten” a place up by helping their clients find better ways to store stuff. That’s part of your job, of course—but there’s definitely more to it. Tidying is only a temporary solution. Think about it: the disorganization in your client’s house took months or even years to come about. If all professional organizers did was tidy, that clutter would start creeping back the moment they left.
Organizing is a process. It’s a process that has to be adapted to every unique client, and even then it still needs fine-tuning when things in your client’s life change. Helping your client create a system is what makes your organizing powers stick. A client may decide to handle the new organizational challenges of moving to a new house, getting married, having a baby, or switching careers with or without your professional assistance—either way, staying organized takes effort on their end, too!
7. It’s tough to make a living as a professional organizer
Not if you’re smart about your business! Like any career, becoming a professional organizer will only be successful if you put the time and effort into developing your skills and your business. Because this is still a relatively new field with a lot of misconceptions floating around, part of your work will involve helping clients and potential clients understand what it is you actually do, and how you can help them!