Professional home organizers reveal 9 things you should know before working with them

It takes two to tango – this is how to work with your professional organizer for the best results

Two wire baskets willed with folded clothes on a bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Working with a professional organizer to help declutter and restore order in your home can be daunting. Having someone else going through your things with you and encouraging you to let go can be stressful, draining, or even exciting.

Just hiring someone to help you will not set you up for a successful decluttering session, however. You have to be able to work well with your expert for the best results and a home that will continue to work for you. 

These are the nine things you need to know before working with a professional organizer to make the process smoother for everyone involved

How to work with a professional home organizer

Just because a professional organizer declutters and organizes for a living, does not mean that they can work on your home alone without your input. You need to help and offer your truthful opinions for the collaboration to be successful. 

With that in mind, this is how to work with your expert, not against them. 

1. You should keep an open mind

Organizing a drawer

(Image credit: Alamy)

Keeping an open mind is essential when decluttering a home, especially when working with an expert, begins Cori McDougald, professional home organizer and CPO of Meat & Potatoes Organizing. Sometimes the way you envisioned organizing your home might not be functional, and your expert will have other ideas about what might work for you, for instance, Cori begins. 

‘The most efficient way to organize a home might not be what you had originally anticipated! Sometimes, we have clients who are convinced that ticking tasks off their kitchen decluttering checklist is their highest priority. After more investigation, we realized many items are living in the kitchen that need a home elsewhere. 

‘Knowing this, we look at other storage areas or closets in the home. Oftentimes, we end up having to start projects in these storage areas to make their original kitchen organization project a success. A fresh set of eyes on your home can be life-changing.’

2. Remember you are the leader

That being said, just because the expert is the expert, does not mean that all of the work and decisions fall to them. You are the leader in this process, the expert is simply your assistant, reminds Star Hansen, professional home organizer, and clutter whisperer. 

‘Working with an organizer is like doing emotional open-heart surgery through your home. You want to feel safe with the person you work with. If there’s any trace of judgment, or if they don’t feel safe to you, keep looking. This is such a personal journey and the right person can make all the difference between the organizing process feeling healing versus traumatizing. 

Remember that you are in charge. The organizer you hire is here to support you and help you create the transformation you desire. They’re not the boss, you are,’ Star reiterates. ‘They’re here to support you in reclaiming your home from clutter. The best organizers will cheer you on, help you bring your vision to life, and support you every step of the way.’

3. Get your laundry done beforehand


(Image credit: Ted Todd)

It can sometimes help to get a few parts of your home ready for the organizer's arrival so they have a clear view of everything you own and what you need to organize. For Kate Pawlowski, professional organizer and founder of Done and Done Home, this means asking clients to do laundry before she arrives to make decluttering a closet and organizing clothes easier. 

‘The first thing is to do the laundry. Even if it isn't folded or put away, having clean clothes makes the job easier for the organizer to declutter, sort, and donate.’

4. – But don’t tidy up

With the laundry out of the way, it is important to resist the urge to tidy up and hide clutter in cabinets so it is out of the way. Although this is a good way to fake clean a house before guests arrive, your professional organizer is coming over to help with this very issue – hiding it away will only impede the process, Cori McDougald, the professional home organizer, assures.

‘Most professional organizing projects begin with a consultation. During this part, we want to see your home, exactly how it is, to see how we can help you. We want to see where you have had success in the past, and also where you are currently struggling. 

‘Organizers will want to see your most overwhelming rooms and areas where you feel "stuck". This is excellent information that will help us formulate a plan to help you succeed. It's always a "no judgment zone", so don't worry about cleaning or picking up before we arrive. The more realistic the situation is when we arrive, the easier it is for us to help you.’

5. Remember results won’t be instantaneous

entryway with wooden floorboards, stripe runner, bookcases each side, bench with cushions, open front door

(Image credit: Kersaint Cobb)

Another common misconception about hiring a professional organizer is that your decluttering vision board will instantly come to life with Pinterest-perfect home organizing. While the process can be quicker than working on your own, it will still take time and work to realize your goals, reminds Star Hansen, professional home organizer

‘Organizing is a healing journey, not a task to complete. This clutter didn’t arrive overnight, and it’s not going to go away overnight either,’ Star says. ‘Instead of trying to race and do a giant session to purge as much as possible, look at working with an organizer as though it’s a therapeutic self-care appointment. It’s better to work slowly over a longer period of time than to race through the process, get burned out, and stop without finishing.’

6. You should prepare your household

Just as you might have to encourage your family to declutter, you might have to prepare them for the arrival of a professional organizer. Not everyone will be open to the process right away, and they might need a little more persuading through seeing the process in action, Kate Pawlowski, professional organizer says. 

‘The other thing you can do to ensure the most favorable outcome is to make sure that everyone in the household knows what to expect. If one member of your family is afraid of the process, the best thing to do is make sure all of their things are out of living spaces and placed in one area (for example, their bedroom). 

‘Once they've had a chance to see the process and understand how it works, they may be more willing to participate.’

7. Stay present

Decluttering is a difficult process even with the help of an expert. The main thing your professional will want from you as the homeowner is for you to stay as present as possible when deciding what to declutter, even when coming up against decision fatigue shares professional organizer Cori McDougald:

‘In the midst of an organizing project, it's always great when the client can be fully present and mindful about making decisions. There will likely be about 1000 decisions about whether to keep, discard, donate, or sell items. Being able to tune into each item quickly and make a conscious decision about whether you need it or not, can make the organizing project move faster and have excellent results. 

‘The speed at which our clients can make decisions determines how fast or slow a session will go. Being fully present can help the process run smoothly.’

8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

A minimal clutter-free laundry closet with laundry baskets and storage baskets on tidy shelves

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You should never be afraid to ask your professional organizer questions about any stage of the process, urges Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer, Co-Founders of NEAT Method. Not doing so could give you unfair expectations, leave you feeling stuck, or end in declutter regret – three things no professional will want for their clients. 

‘Be aware of the full process by asking questions. Your professional organizer should cover everything in the initial consultation but we expect that some things may need repeating. Don’t be afraid to clarify. This will ensure that all expectations are met and you are left with a space you truly love.’

9. Trust the experts

Finally, you need to be able to trust the professional you hire. Researching their methods and reviews is a great way to pick a team you will love and work well with, but beyond that it is about building a relationship with that expert so that you can declutter and tackle your home without judgment.

‘As professional organizers, we have a full understanding of product knowledge and space planning. We also have connections in the home industry that we can tap into as needed. Lastly, we will likely make informed editing suggestions based on our understanding of your needs and lifestyle,’ reveals Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer of NEAT Method, ‘lean on this expertise and trust the process. This will allow us to create that calm and sophisticated space you’re looking for.’

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Are professional organizers worth it?

If you find yourself struggling to declutter your home or find an organizing system that works for you and your family, it is 100% worth it to hire a professional organizer to help you start your process. They will offer non-judgemental advice and expert tricks that will clear your home in no time.  

What should I look for in a professional organizer?

When picking a professional organizer to hire, it is helpful to look at the reviews, their gallery of before and afters, and their organizing methods and routines to see if they are aligned with your goals and lifestyle. You can then arrange some consultations to get to know the expert and pick the one you get along the best with for the best, most relaxing experience. Professionals won’t be angry you didn't pick them, they will understand that not every approach works for every person. 

Before working with an expert, it is vital that you book them in advance and schedule time to be free to work with them so that the process is not rushed, adds Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer of NEAT Method. ‘Assume that your local organizer is booked two weeks out and plan from there,’ they suggest. ‘For a move, we suggest booking at least a month out. If they have availability sooner, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and if they are a bit busier, you’ll be prepared to get on their schedule.’ 

Chiana Dickson

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.