What is a professional organizer?
A professional organizer provides information, products, and support to help people and businesses achieve their organizing goals. They are non-judgmental and bring problem-solving skills to stressful and overwhelming situations while they work with you to help feel ‘unstuck’, empowered, and in control.
What’s the difference between a cleaner and a professional organizer?
I don’t clean! But seriously, while a cleaner works for you to clean your house, a professional organizer works with you to understand the problem, your organizing goals, and to implement solutions, including teaching organizing skills for long-term success.
Why hire a Professional Organizer?
- You feel a sense of dread when people suggest coming to your house.
- It's hard to get out the door on time, to keep things running smoothly, or to meet deadlines.
- You waste money buying things you already own because you can’t find them or forgot you own them.
- You own tons of organizing products but still aren't organized.
- You’re drowning in paper.
- You have no household systems or routines.
- You’re running out of space to store stuff.
- You have a bunch of projects started but haven't finished.
- You feel like you have no free time.
- You've gone through a move, renovation, downsizing, divorce, retirement, a death, a new baby, or other life transition that's caused chaos.
- You know you need to get rid of things but can't seem to do it.
- You feel stressed just thinking about your space.
- You feel stuck and overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start.
Is clutter just physical stuff?
Clutter is anything we don't need, want, or use; anything that takes away our time, energy, and space. It can be ill-fitting clothes and unwanted gifts, or unsatisfying relationships and time-sucking activities. If you have clutter in one area, you likely have clutter in another: physical stuff can clutter your time when you can't find things; it can clutter our relationships and our health with additional concerns. Cluttered spaces and schedules tend to reflect cluttered minds and emotions, and vice versa. Gretchen Rubin writes, "outer order contributes to inner calm" and the opposite is also true.
When is the best time to hire an organizer?
When isn't?! I love fall as a time for new beginnings; the change of seasons in general is great - to jump start organizing for spring, or to bunker down in an organized space for winter; before or just after New Year's to make room for new energy; if you're thinking of listing your home for sale, before downsizing, a move, or renovation to make sure everyone survives in tact! Anytime is really the right time to get organized - it's about the right time for you.
What are your areas of expertise? Who do you work with?
I work in residential, small office, and corporate organizing. Residential organizing services include declutter and organizing coaching, and helping clients with space planning, storage solutions, and personal shopping to meet organizing needs. I seriously love wardrobe editing, closet redesign and organizing! Other residential services include downsizing, packing, moving, home staging, or renovation preparation, and estate organizing services, as well as computer basic training, and electronic information management; organizing photos and photo projects; and time management coaching.
Small office and corporate organizing includes de-cluttering and organizing; filing systems; records, information, and paper management; space planning (including processes and paper flow); as well as group and individual training and coaching. I also work with realtors to help their clients make the fastest sale possible!
Other services can include goal setting and life balance management; bespoke event planning; and workshops, lunch and learns, seminars, and public speaking for general consumers, or professionals.
I have experience with seniors, families, youth and children, and every age in between; with students, moms, entrepreneurs, and businesses. I am specifically trained and have experience working with clients who are facing situational disorganization due to a life transition (a new baby, for example); those who have struggled with chronic disorganization their whole lives; individuals who have hoarding disorder; individuals with ADD/ADHD or other mental or physical health challenges; and students.
Can’t I just organize myself?
Sure...but why haven’t you? Not everyone is naturally organized, and chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Having a non-judgmental professional to help guide you through the process can get you out of that stuck space.
I’m normally an organized person - why do I need you?
Organized people are awesome: they get organizing concepts, and typically just need a kick-start to get ‘unstuck’. They’re overwhelmed because life transitions have changed how things are working for them; they’ve had a personal or health crises; or life has taken over, leaving no time for organizing. I can get you unstuck, and re-establish organization in your life.
What is your process?
The first step is deciding to do something about disorganization; usually triggered by a tragedy or when people decide they’re sick of the status quo!
I come into the process when you contact me via phone, email, or Facebook. After you briefly describe the challenges you’re facing, we’ll arrange an initial, complimentary assessment.
During the assessment, you share your story; I’ll ask you some questions to help clarify the organizing challenge, your needs and goals, and we make sure we’re a good fit!
Once the assessment is complete, we book your first session. During this session, we'll complete actions to move you towards your organizing goals. At the end of the session, we’ll discuss homework if you choose, and I can take items you have decluttered and make appropriate arrangements to donate or recycle them. I provide an invoice, as well as a comprehensive document that list resources, reviews concepts covered, and homework if applicable via email.
We'll touch base between sessions to discuss hurdles, completion of homework, donations, and anything else that comes up.
What should I do to prepare for an organizer's first visit?
Nothing. It’s way more helpful to see your space as it is on a daily basis. It gives me a clearer idea of how you use your space (including clutter hot spots), and lets me identify what’s working and what’s not.
Do I have to buy organizing supplies?
One sign of someone struggling to get organized is they own tons of organizing supplies and books! Avoid buying any organizing supplies until we’ve assessed and decluttered your space. Once we determine what (if anything) you need, I can source products and pin them to a private board on Pinterest, or email you a text-based list. This saves you the time and headache of hunting for the perfect item to meet your needs. You can then purchase items yourself, or I can purchase on your behalf (including handling any returns or exchanges needed). Sourcing and purchasing of supplies is then invoiced.
Do you root through my drawers?
One of the questions I ask in the initial assessment is, “Are any areas of your house off-limits?” (most people say their night tables!), and I respect those boundaries. I end up seeing a lot of things clients wouldn’t show everyone in their lives because people get really comfortable.
Are you going to make me throw things away?
No - it’s your stuff and your decision to throw it out. People are attached to their things and it can be hard to let go. Some people just need to organize not declutter, but the reality is, many people have way more stuff than they need or want (anyone pondered buying a new house because they don’t have room for their stuff?). I'll help you go through the process of deciding what stays and what goes, working with you to determine what items belong in your space, and having you take a hard look at the things you’ve accumulated.
I coach you to investigate your real reasons for holding onto things; to figure out whether you’re holding onto something out of guilt, obligation, and a case of the “shoulds” or whether it deserves valuable space in your home because you love or use the item. I work with you to determine how much space you have and figure out what will fit in your space safely and comfortably. I help you decide what's meaningful – what’s worth the time, space, and emotions you use on it. Does that always mean getting rid of things? No. But when it does, that is your call.
What do you do with items I’m decluttering?
I like to remove the decluttered items from your home as soon as you’ve decided to let them go. I’m passionate about avoiding waste, and about putting things to use to help those in need in our communities. I help match you with charities that reflect your favourite causes – if you’re an animal lover, we’ll donate your items to the SPCA St. John's Thrift Store. If you like knowing you’re supporting families in our community, we’ll donate your items to the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland. You can feel good knowing your items are being put to good use in their new homes. When items can’t be donated to a specific charity, we can bring them to a local thrift store, recycle them, or arrange for their safe disposal.
Is my space the worst you’ve ever seen?
No. Most people are their own worst critics – I’ve had people who needed minimal help ask if I’d consider them a hoarder! Everyone’s clutter is relative to their level of comfort; you probably feel like your situation is much worse than it really is, especially when you feel drained every time you look at it, and have been beating yourself up because you ‘should’ have been able to deal with it. Realistically, almost everyone has a “Monica closet” – it’s just that no one talks about it. And keep in mind, my threshold for your disorganization is high - this is a non-judgment zone!
Can you work on your own or do I need to be present?
My services vary depending on your needs. If you’re struggling with getting organized (and maybe have for some time), working together will produce the best results. When we work together you communicate your vision and we work towards it; I coach you on using organizing methods and techniques; and follow up with you between appointments to check on your progress and provide motivation.
If you are know how to organize and usually live in an organized space but are struggling with organization due to a busy period in your life (or some other factor having an impact), I can work alone. This involves clear communication of what needs to happen at the beginning of the process. We communicate between sessions about how things are working for you, and any tweaks that need to happen. If you need to declutter, we can declutter together, and then I can work alone to organize what remains. Alternatively, if you’d like to do most of the organizing project yourself but need help getting started and support along the way, I can provide a plan and support via email or telephone. In other cases, like an estate closure or staging project, I work more independently and consult with friends and family involved to do what is best for the estate or sale, or what has been stated in legal documents.
No matter which route you choose, you’ll need to be present at the beginning of the process to discuss your needs and expectations.
I’m completely overwhelmed. Where do I start?
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, try starting in a place where you'll quickly see a difference – a shelf or a drawer, for example. A small space quickly gives you get the gratification of finishing, motivating you to keep going. You can also start in the space that’s causing you the most discomfort. If this is a whole room, divide the room into zones to make the project attainable. For example, if your home office is driving you nuts, start with your desktop. Go even further by dividing the desktop into fourths and clearing one at a time. You’ll also want to confront how you acquire things – take notice of your acquiring habits (you shop a lot, you take free stuff, you’re storing things for family), and do what you can to slow the flow. I use a one in, one out rule pretty militantly in my own space.
What is your policy on confidentiality?
I take confidentiality very seriously. My contract ensures the privacy of clients. I will not discuss your business with anyone, share photos of your space without explicit permission, or reveal that you’re my client.
What training or certifications do you have?
- Currently pursuing graduate studies in Counselling Psychology, Memorial University
- Vacant Staging Specialist, Certified Staging Professionals
- Certified Color Consultant, Certified Staging Professionals
- Chronic Disorganization (CD) Specialist Certificate, Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD)
- Hoarding Specialist Certificate, Institute for Challenging Disorganization
- Aging Specialist Certificate, Institute for Challenging Disorganization
- Hoarding Level 1 & 2, Canadian Mental Health Association - Newfoundland and Labrador in partnership with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing.
- Hoarding: Train the Trainer, Canadian Mental Health Association - Newfoundland and Labrador in partnership with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing.
- Institute for Challenging Disorganization Certificates of Study in:
- Basic Hoarding Issues with the CD Client
- Foundation Certificate in Chronic Disorganization
- CD Client Administration
- Life Transitions
- Basic ADD Issues with the CD Client
- Understanding the Needs of the Aging CD Client
- Basic Mental Health Conditions and Challenges
- Learning Styles and Modalities
- Understanding the Needs of the Student CD Client
- Basic Physical Conditions and Challenges Affecting the CD Client
- Time Management & Productivity
- Interpersonal Intelligence
- Trained Professional Organizer certificate, Professional Organizers in Canada
- Certified Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (WPIC)
- Certified Life Coach, Certified Coaches Federation
- Post-Graduate Diploma in Information Management, College of the North Atlantic
- ESL Certificate, Memorial University
- Bachelor of Education degree, Memorial University
- Bachelor of Arts degree, Memorial University
- Master of Education (Counselling Psychology) candidate, Memorial University
You're educated in chronic disorganization - what is that?
Chronic disorganization has three criteria: a history of disorganization in which self-help efforts have failed, an undermining of current quality of life due to disorganization, and the expectation of future disorganization.
Do you work with people who hoard?
Yes. As of May 2013, hoarding is a recognized mental health disorder. While research about hoarding is limited, current U.S. research shows that 5% of the population are hoarding; that's over 10,000 people in St. John’s alone.
Hoarding is generally defined as:
- the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a larger number of possessions that appear to be useless or of little value
- living spaces are sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed
- significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding
Hoarding behaviours involve saving, acquisition, and clutter/disorganization.
To be effective, I work with people who have some insight into their situation and are committed to achieving change.. While it is not recommended that you hire a professional organizer to work with another individual without their permission, I’m happy to consult on hoarding cases or provide you with resources that may help you and your family. I can also lead workshops about hoarding, either for service providing professionals, for individuals who hoard, or their families. Click here to review my training in hoarding.
How long does an average organizing project take?
Every project is different and can range from a few hours to days or weeks. The speed of completion depends largely on your ability to make decisions, as well as the size and content of the space, the number of interruptions, and so on. It can take 4-8 hours to organize a closet, 8-20 hours for storage areas like garages, attics, or basements, and 8-24 for a home office.
Where do you work?
I typically work in St. John’s and surrounding areas. I travel to the Burin Peninsula a few times a year, and would be happy to combine visits with organizing sessions! I am also available for workshops across Newfoundland and am planning virtual organizing (VO) packages to meet the needs of areas outside of the Avalon Peninsula. I can travel to meet your organizing needs – drop me a message and we can discuss the details; I charge a rate per kilometre for travel outside the greater St. John’s area. On that note, I love to travel - I'd be happy to help you get organized almost anywhere on the globe should my travels and your location align, or if you want to fly me to your location!
What are your hours of operation?
I am available for bookings Monday-Sunday, 8 am – 9 pm.
Do you offer gift certificates?
Yes, I offer swipe-able, reloadable gift cards. Professional organizing services can be a great gift if your friends or family have expressed interest (otherwise, it can feel judgmental). And if you want to receive my services, requesting a gift card for a birthday or Christmas present shows your family or friends it's ok to gift my services to you.