Of course, before anyone hires me to help organize their life, I expect them to ask a lot of questions — about how I work, my pricing structure, how long it will take, and what we will accomplish during our sessions. I’ve tried to provide some answers to common client concerns, but please feel free to contact me if I haven’t addressed your specific issue…
Here’s a quick summary (but you’re welcome to read my entire life story, if you feel so inclined!) I started out my career in Social Work, and my focus has always been on problem-solving — you tell me how your life isn’t working the way that you want it to, and I will help you find a solution to fix it. I struck out on my own in 1998 and have been a Professional Organizer and Coach ever since. I am a Golden Circle member of of NAPO and was the original founder and creator of the OnlineOrganizing community. I am considered something of an innovator within the industry, breaking new ground and always looking at the concept of “organizing” a bit differently from the crowd. These days, I provide hands-on consultations, workshops, teleseminars, and coaching for those who want to bring their lives back into alignment with their true priorities.
The National Association of Professional Organizers — it’s a group of several thousand Professional Organizers who’ve all dedicated their lives to helping individuals/businesses embrace order and efficiency. (Yes, it’s exactly as anal-retentive as it sounds!) Our collective vision is to make the world a more organized place, one client at a time — and to do so according to a professional code of ethics. (Picture me reciting this while holding one hand in the air and placing the other on a copy of Walden):
Clearly, I have a rather broad interpretation of that last one — but you get the gist.
All sorts of folks hire organizers — students and CEOs, full-time parents and empty-nesters, Folks hire organizers for all sorts of reasons — because they’re overwhelmed and need someone to help dig them out from under the piles, because they can’t ever seem to find what they need when they need it, because they don’t have enough time in the day for all their priorities, because they’re tired of feeling like they’re always running late and falling behind.
What is the value of your peace of mind? What value do you hold in coming home and feeling calm and welcomed? We pay money to fix our hair, work out and get massages. Working with a professional organizer is just one more investment in you.
Why do you pay someone to change the oil on your car? Because you know that regular maintenance will prevent bigger problems down the road. Why do you pay someone to file your taxes for you? Because they know better how to do it the right way, to maximize your bottom line. Why do you pay someone to cut your hair? Because presenting a neat and groomed appearance to the world makes you feel good about yourself. Why do you pay someone to guide you through a workout at the gym? Because you know they’ll push you harder and help you get better results in that allotted time than you would on your own. These are all the exact same reasons people hire me to help them organized and simplify — because they know they are worth investing in. Folks hire organizers for all sorts of reasons — because they’re overwhelmed and need someone to help dig them out from under the piles, because they can’t ever seem to find what they need when they need it, because they don’t have enough time in the day for all their priorities, because they’re tired of feeling like they’re always running late and falling behind.
I pride myself in being an organizing “generalist” — a Jill-of-all-trades who can take care of any situation you throw at me. Whether you need help at home or at work, with time management, paper, or storage spaces, I can assist. I take a holistic view of organizing, and believe that simply cleaning out a closet or setting up a bunch of file folders isn’t enough to affect a lasting change in people’s lives — you have to root out clutter wherever it lives. So I also help my clients with issues like financial organizing, estate organizing, business policies and procedures, staff training, memorabilia, relocation, planning a garage sale, clutter control, ergonomics, personal productivity, project management, simplifying life, and teaching good organizing skills to their kids. And if you ever need a service that I don’t provide, I’m happy to give you a referral.
Many people mistakenly assume that an organizer is going to “tidy up” for them. But ask any of my clients and they will tell you that the process is much more involved than that. Organizing is a professional service — just like you would receive from an attorney or an accountant, a therapist or a physician. I am a college graduate with Master’s Degree and a background in Social Work — who specializes in problem-solving, counseling clients through difficult issues, and life transitions. I have extensive knowledge of household management, records retention guidelines, productivity systems, software technology, business procedures, psychology, operant conditioning, and what motivates human behavior. I have spent many years developing my skills and my resource base, and that’s what my folks hire me for. And as one client told me, “It’s cheaper than therapy!”
When you hire a Professional Organizer, you are paying for that person’s knowledge and expertise — their ability to get inside your head, understand how you function, and develop a system that will work best for you. And you are going to pay more for an experienced organizer who knows the ropes. I’ve been doing this since 1998, and I’ve got tens of thousands of work hours under my belt. Whatever your organizing challenge, I guarantee you that I’ve seen it before. And because I’ve already dealt with that problem dozens or hundreds of times in the past, I will have an immediate solution to offer — I know the systems, the latest products, and even tangential services that can help you get and stay organized. And my ability to work faster than a “newbie” organizer who charges less but has no real-world experience actually saves you money in the long-run.
Absolutely not! I don’t believe in forcing all of my clients into a single mold. Some organizers insist on using the same prepackaged filing system or storage kit with everyone — they think that “organizing” means trying to adapt a cookie-cutter approach to fit their client’s way of doing things. But it’s unlikely that this method will give you the lasting results that you’re looking for. The more effective option is for you to have an expert create a CUSTOMIZED solution that is specifically designed around your lifestyle and personal preferences. While I tend to see the same organizing concerns over and over again, no two people are exactly alike. Each of my clients interacts differently with his or her “stuff,” faces different pressures, and is motivated by different rewards. So my job is to figure out what combination of techniques and tools will work best for YOU!
Absolutely not. My goal is to help you regain control over your life — not force you to part with something you really care about. If you tell me something is either “beautiful, useful, or loved” (my criteria for keeping it), we’ll find it a home.
Some P.O’s will offer to come in and organize “for” you — you don’t even have to lift a finger, they will do all the work. If you have an unlimited budget and don’t mind a lifelong commitment to that organizer in order to control the chaos, then go for it. I, however, think that this approach is a mistake. I believe in working “with” the client — you need to be involved in the process so you can learn the skills that will allow you to live clutter-free for years to come. My goal is for you to stay organized on your own, long after I’m gone — and isn’t that what it should really be all about? Empowerment is the cornerstone of my philosophy (it’s the Social Worker in me!) It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper for you to have me teach you how to do it for yourself — compared to having someone come back over and over again to tidy up your messes.
Remember that those shows are just that — for show. They want a dramatic result in an hour, so they cart everything out of the room, set up some cool storage paraphernalia, and show you a pretty result. But they don’t discuss the decision-making, follow-up, and maintenance processes that are required for long-term success. Organizing is only partly about shelves and containers — it is mostly about learning how to let go of clutter, changing the behaviors that cause chaos, and developing more constructive habits that will keep you organized after you turn off the TV. Lugging all of your junk out to the curb and slapping on a fresh coat of paint might feel better for a few days, but it won’t do much to improve your quality of life in the long run. Removing the stacks and piles isn’t going to solve your disorganization anymore than liposuction will keep you thin!
Right. If you don’t change the behavior that caused the problem in the first place, the weight (and the clutter) will just come right back again. I don’t care how amazing the transformation, that “quick fix” will come undone just as quickly if you revert back to your old routines! Instead of looking for a miracle cure, you would do better to think of working with a Professional Organizer like hiring a personal trainer at the gym. That trainer can help you achieve amazing results, but you can’t expect to have a new body overnight. It takes time to burn away the flab and build up muscle — then you have to stick with it every day to maintain your results. It’s the same with getting your life in order. It took years to create the clutter, it’s going to take time to tame the chaos. But as your “trainer,” I’m there to keep you on track and help you make faster progress than you would on your own.
That really depends on how challenging your particular situation is. The average room in a home may take 1-2 days — and the average one-person office might require 2-3 days. However, small jobs (like a bathroom) would certainly take less time, and big jobs (like a huge basement or overstuffed garage) could take more. But you determine the time frame and budget, because you decide how much help you want. You can ask me to simply review your situation and offer suggestions — but I will also be happy to actually set up the filing system, clean out the garage, organize the pantry and closet, and redesign your office myself. I will provide whatever level of service you find most helpful and affordable. My rate is $75 an hour, and I offer liberal discounts for referring additional clients to me or scheduling multiple appointments in advance.
We will start off with a brief (and complimentary) phone consultation, during which I will ask about your concerns and answer any questions you have about the way that I work. On our first visit, you will take me on a tour of your home or office, showing me all of your stacks and piles and describing your ongoing frustrations. I will outline our starting point and plan of attack — then we dig in! I normally work in 3-hour blocks of time — but I’m happy to schedule a 6-hour back-to-back session if you are feeling particularly rambunctious. At the end of our appointment, I will give you a homework assignment to be completed before our next session (nothing too involved — maybe buying some supplies or trying out a system for a week to see how it works.) And we will work our way through every area you want to tackle, one appointment at a time.
Some people need an organizer to guide them through every step — and simply don’t have the gumption to do the work without me right there at their elbow, keeping the ball rolling. But others would be happy to tackle the stacks and piles themselves, if they knew what steps to take or where to begin. And let’s face it, hiring an organizer to go through your entire home or office is a big undertaking (after all, this is a professional service, not janitorial work!) However, if you are willing to take on more responsibility for the result, I can create a “blueprint” for you to follow — then you are in charge of completing each assigned task (cleaning out storage spaces, sorting papers, setting up closets and cabinets) yourself. This way, you get the benefit of my knowledge and experience at a much more affordable price. The cost for this package is a flat one-time $500 fee.
Absolutely! Being organized is a skill that anyone can learn.
I am a full-time RVer, which means that I’m in different locations at different times of the year. Whenever I’m passing through your town, I am happy to visit your home or office and organize you in-person — check our itinerary to see where we will be in the coming months. However, thanks to technology, geography doesn’t have to get in the way of our working together, even when I’m thousands of miles away. I have organized clients all over the world via phone and internet coaching. You have full access to my expertise, and I am there for you the whole time, helping you clean out, designing customized organizing systems, and providing you with guidance — but without the expense of my having to be on-site. It’s a very effective and affordable option for those who are willing to work virtually!
Just fill out my contact form letting me know what kinds of services you are interested in and where you are located. We can have an initial phone conversation, take a look at our calendars, and schedule a time to start. I look forward to helping you begin your journey toward an orderly and simplified life!
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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.
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