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Avoid Hiring These Kinds of Organizers: Five Common Red Flags

You’d be surprised how many horror stories I heard when I told people I was starting an organizing business. 

“They threw too much away!”

“They didn’t listen!” 

“They bailed on me mid project.” 

Decluttering and re-organizing your home is a big deal. Yes, we throw around “spring cleaning” without much gravitas, but for people who are committing to the point of hiring an organizer… this is a potentially life-changing event. 

And, not to mention, already a potentially stressful and emotional process. We humans love to collect things. Pretty things, sentimental things… there’s something inside us that loves to make meaning of tangible objects and surround ourselves with them. It’s beautiful, but, when allowed the space to grow freely, this tendency can land us with a home so full of things that we can’t even stand to be inside it anymore. 

It can also be very difficult, when you’ve been living this way for so long, to get a good perspective on the task at hand and know the best way to start (or, let’s be real, continue or finish). That’s where I, and other organizers, come in! We love this process of wading through the clutter to find the things you truly cherish and need. We love the feeling, at the end of a long project, of calm and satisfaction. Yay! We did it. Big sigh of relief. 

But, just because we organizers love it, doesn’t mean we’re all the right fit for you or the task at hand. So, before hiring someone, make sure you’ve tested them against these red flags: 

1.Their services cost a small fortune 

You shouldn’t have to go into debt to find some peace and calm. (That would be adding more stress.. Wouldn’t it?) Most organizers charge a range of $30-$120 an hour. Anything more than that should be considered very carefully. Is it expertise or greed? 

I personally don’t feel comfortable charging more than $80/hr and do sliding scale down to $30/hr because I want people to be able to find that peace without the financial struggle. 

Make sure that whatever organizer you choose cares about helping you, not just making money.  

2. They concern themselves with aesthetics more than function. 

The Home Edit

This is a big one! In the organizing and interior design world, there are many professionals who push for this “Instagram-ready” or “Pinterest-ready” reality where all the surfaces are either empty, uncomfortable, or covered in trendy decor that serves no purpose/has no personality. 

We are so constantly surrounded by photos of color-coded minutia and grand museum-like billionaire houses that we begin to conflate the momentary pleasure of a photograph with the long-term pleasure of a home. Just because you love watching videos of people organizing every item in their pantry by color, doesn’t mean you need that in your own kitchen. 

For your home to be functional and set you up for success, it needs to be easy to maintain. Everyone’s definition of that is different, but, more times than not, the aesthetic way is the wrong way to go. 

3. They have a set of organizing tools they recommend and that’s that.

No! The whole point of organizing your home is that it’s YOURS (this connects to the point above as well) - your home is supposed to be a place where you feel safe, supported, and yourself! 

If an organizer tells you that there’s a specific tool you have to get (ESPECIALLY if they haven’t been in your space yet), that’s a major red flag. They should get to know you, your needs, and your space, before making any recommendations. 

4. They want to throw everything away.

Don’t get me wrong, decluttering is the biggest part of home organization. We all have too much stuff and could benefit from letting things go. But the purging process takes time and can be very emotional.  Your organizer needs to provide the space for you to process your belongings, habits, and lifestyle without judgment or pressure. 

A helpful strategy I’ve found is to begin with the immediate yeses and nos. If it feels like a no-brainer to keep or toss something, perfect. Then, return to the maybes. Look at everything you chose to keep and see how much room you have left and sort through the maybes again. Then, take everything that’s left and put it into a box (or boxes) that you’ll store in the garage or the attic or the back of the closet. Set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar to check on that box in 6 months-1 year. Anything left in it that you haven’t wanted or needed in that time, you can get rid of!

Also, it’s always good to hire someone environmentally/socially conscious who can collect donations and bring them to thrift stores. The more we can reuse and keep out of the landfill, the better! 

5. They don’t understand neurodivergence / the difference between visual and not visual people

This is a harder one to scope out, but I feel this needs to be said: 

You are not the problem, the system is. It’s not the amount of money you have or the amount of time or anything to do with your personality or skills, even. The reality is that the people who succeed at organization are the ones whose skills and brain coincides with the dominant culture’s standards, tools, and techniques. 

Almost all of my clients have some form of ADHD or are, at the bare minimum, visual people. This means that, as soon as stuff goes into a drawer, it disappears from their mind. What happens when you take a visual person and put them in a house full of drawers, closed doors, and cabinets? Piles. Everywhere. Because that’s the only way they can see their stuff! 

A skilled organizer should be able to make that connection and recommend other organization methods that better work with your personality type. 


So, in summary, a good organizer should be (relatively) affordable, patient, non-judgmental, and alter organization tools and system recommendations depending on your personality, your home, and your needs. 

Okay, that’s it for now! Happy organizing :) 



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