Now that you have decided that you need an expert organizer, have selected your organizer, and prepared yourself and your home, it is time to learn what to expect from your first session. You may be feeling anxious or excited about your upcoming session, so we want to give you an idea of what your session might be like. Let’s explore the Five W’s for your first session.
Who: After researching organizers in your area you should already have an idea about who is coming to your home. Whether you hired a solopreneur or a company, you should be able to get some information on who is coming. If you are feeling nervous, it might help to review information about your organizer and their company so that you can feel more comfortable about them and their experience. You can do this by visiting their website and social media pages.
What: Upon arrival, your organizer should have an idea of what your organizing project may entail, but they may ask for a tour of the home and a deeper explanation of your goals. Even though they may only be working in one area of the home, seeing all your spaces may help them assign homes for items in the area you are working. After a brief tour and discussion about your goals and ideas, the organizer will get started on the project. This is where they will begin with the five steps of organizing. Here is the general idea of the process:
- Sorting – the first step is to sort the items in your space. This means looking through the items and grouping like items together. For example, if you are working in a kitchen, you may group items into categories such as, baking, food storage, food prep, plates, serving items, cups, cleaning supplies, specialty, etc.
- Decision Making – as we are sorting through the items we want to decide if each item is something we want to keep or if it is something we want to toss, donate or sell. Some people need to have all their items sorted before they can make a decision so they can see how much of one thing they have. Others can make these decisions as the sorting is in progress. It is up to you to communicate with your organizer on how you want to work in this step. The organizer is not there to pressure you to get rid of items but to facilitate decision making to reach your goals.
- Assigning a Home – now that the items are sorted, and the items you are not keeping have been removed, it is time to decide where each group of items will live. For example, in the kitchen we would want to put the baking and food prep items near the oven and stove as that would be near the place you would need them. Your organizer should have a general idea of where it may be best to store an item based on its use, so they may ask you questions about how often you use an item or how you use it.
- Contain – the containing step does not mean putting things in containers, it means containing it in its new home. Whether that is in a cabinet, shelf, drawer or container, the containing process helps us set limits on what items we can store. Though you already made a decision on what items to keep, the space you have to contain the item might not allow for it, so you may need to reevaluate your decision.
- Maintain – the last step is to maintain and this means keeping up with the system you and your organizer have made using the previous steps. This means putting items away in their assigned homes and making an effort to keep them there. The maintenance step can be difficult and may require others in your household to participate. If everyone in the home knows the goals and the places where things now belong it may help keep things organized, so make sure to communicate that.
The five steps of organizing are not black and white and will differ for each client, room and situation. The steps often intermingle with each other and you may jump back and forth between steps.
Where: You have probably been thinking about hiring an organizer for a while and have multiple spaces you want to get organized. An important thing to think about for your first session is where you want to get started. For most clients, we ask them which space is bothering them the most. We want to make the biggest impact in the first session to help the client stay motivated and keep things moving forward, so getting your biggest problem area resolved is ideal. Though this space may not be the worst area, it may be a space you use every day or something you can’t stand looking at anymore.
When: Your session is scheduled for the day and time you have selected. Be prepared to get to work when your organizer arrives for your appointment. There maybe a few minutes in the beginning of the session for the tour and a brief explanation of the process and plan. It is important to communicate with your organizer if you will be running late or will not be able to participate during your appointment. Eventually, your organizer may be able to work in your home without your help, but in the first few sessions they really are getting to know you and how you use your space so your involvement is important.
Why: You have hired a professional for a reason, and they should be ready to help you with things you have been unable to do on your own. Your professional organizer should be prepared and have the necessary tools (minus containers) that are necessary to organize your space. This includes but is not limited to: trash and donation bags, label maker and label tape, file tabs, command hooks, etc. The tools, experience and training that your organizer brings with them will help the process run smoothly and help make the project more productive. That is why you hired a professional!
It can be a little scary to think about trying something new if you don’t know what to expect. We hope that by exploring the Five W’s you have a better understanding about what your first session might look like.
If you have read this book and have already made the all-important first step of contacting a professional in your area, then Congratulations are in order! You are already on your way to a simpler lifestyle that will help you focus on what matters to you most.