The professional organizer has emerged as the knight in shining armor of the
information age. Our lives today are oversaturated with an ever increasing flow of
information. Our mailboxes are stuffed with mail, and most people have more belongings
than previous generations, as evidenced by the fact that older homes never have enough
storage space. Yet most Americans feel they have less time than ever to manage and
organize all the added stuff in their lives. The professional organizer steps into our
homes and offices to help us take control and put our lives in operating order.
Professional organizers help us organize everything from paper flow to patient flow,
from desktops to filing cabinets, from bookshelves and closets to computer files. Says
editor turned organizer Harriet Schechter, "As an organizer, instead of editing
words, I edit other peoples time and space."
Although this profession is barely five years old, it has doubled every year since 1985
and its practitioners already specialize in five principal categories:
- Space planning setting up and
laying out a home or office so people can get the maximum and most efficient use of the
space they have, taking into consideration such things as lighting, traffic patterns,
noise, and comfort needs.
- Time management assisting clients
to set goals, develop action steps, define priorities, and schedule and delegate tasks and
- Paper management helping people
know how to respond to and what to do with incoming materials and setting up filing and
retrieval systems so people can find things when they need them.
- Clutter control restoring a sense
of order and preventing the further accumulation of clutter.
- Closet/storage design designing and
organizing closet and storage space.
Some organizers work only in residential setting; others work exclusively in offices,
serving organizations such as banks, hospitals, schools, professional practices, and other
business enterprises. Some organizers develop a particularly narrow specialty like packing
and moving, or paying bills and putting finances in order.
Schechter, whose company is called the Miracle Worker Organizing Service, says an
organizers clients are not necessarily disorganized people. "Often they are
quite the opposite," she says, "but are overwhelmed with too many projects and a
reluctance to delegate." Everyone who feels he or she could benefit from being more
organized is a potential customer. But first that person must decide he or she wants the
service, and then must be willing to pay for it. At this time only a small percentage of
those who need the service are willing to pay. Its not uncommon for a potential
client to wait three years before deciding to call for help.
Harriet Schechter believes this business is almost like a calling. "Good
organizers have an overwhelming need to bring order to the world," she says.
"They get satisfaction from helping people organize their lives." Susan Silver,
organizer and author of Organized to Be the Best, finds that "this is a very creative
business. It provides many creative outlets to express your abilities. As an organizer,
you can be an author, seminar leader, trainer, or hands-on consultant."
Silver believes that metropolitan areas provide the best opportunities for organizers
because hiring an organizer is not yet viewed as a necessity. As such its a business
that could be vulnerable to recession. On the other hand, Silver says, "In tough
times we have to find better ways to do more with less." So with creative marketing,
this service can be positioned as a cost saver a way to trim off fat and compensate