We, Professional Organizers

This post was written by Sara Fritsch

Very often, I receive confused looks when I tell people what I do for a living. People say things like,

“Oh, so do you clean out people’s closets?”

Yes, I say.

“Do you make people get rid of stuff?” (Laughter ensues. I don’t know why people always laugh when they ask this. Maybe they think it’s funny to imagine me being mean at my job?)

No, I say.

“What’s the worst you’ve seen?!”

Well, that’s private.

People are curious. Most people I talk to have sort of, in a way, maybe heard of professional organizing before. Sometimes they show me they understand by trying to name Marie Kondo’s book, but the title is so difficult no one can ever say it right. (It took me a full year to get it down pat. It’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by the way.)

And a lot of people have no idea what I mean when I say “home organizer.”  My dad, for example, gave me a very perplexed look, laughed, and then promptly rolled his eyes. He doesn’t care for clutter. 

This post is to simply go a bit deeper into what I think this profession is all about. I’m pretty fond of who we are and what we do, so I suspect I’ll write this up many times.

First, organizers organize, yes. We clean out closets, of course. We help people get rid of their stuff, absolutely. (Truthfully, I won’t make anyone get rid of anything. I want it to be their decision. I offer encouragement, though. I do encourage the purge.)

But what else? Why do we charge such premium rates? Isn’t it pretty much like being a house cleaner? Well, not quite.

Here’s an exercise: concentrate for a moment on an area in your own home that you might call “cluttered,” or could otherwise be a bit tidier.

What pops up in your head when you think of that space? Perhaps some loose ends? Or you’re irked about things broken, left undone, or that need to be returned — but maybe you’ve exceeded the time limit? Maybe photos are there, maybe kid’s artwork? Bills? Toll tag minutia that you know will cost you at least 30 minutes on the phone? And maybe you simply just. can’t. deal.

Organizers walk into these situations every day, but it’s hardly ever just one space. It’s usually several. It’s usually the whole dang house. It’s chaos, I tell you! We — ON PURPOSE — walk into someone else’s chaos, by choice. Every day. Without a map!

And how does your chaos make you feel? Does it make you a super pleasant, joyful ball of energy to be around? I’m guessing not. I’m just being honest; there’s an important level of empathy and compassion that we maintain as Professional Organizers, and it doesn’t always come easy. We spill our coffee on the way to work, too, you guys.

Our clients are dealing with their s*#!, and our mission is to encourage, motivate, love, and hold space for them to do it. We move stuff, literally. We help with those tough decisions about memorabilia. We rearrange in our minds, amidst the clutter, and visualize their best lives for them, with them. Then we make it reality. 

We breathe in dust, cat hair, and stale energy. We get asked questions like, What should I do with this? Should I keep this? What if my sister gave me this but I always hated it? Do you know anyone who might want this? Is this trash or donate-worthy? Could I sell this?

We listen to the stories — all those stories — that are wrapped in all of the stuff. Every object has a memory, and when you declutter, they all come out, at once. It’s a big deal!

Plus, we’re always prepared, while also staying neutral and kind and willing to deal with the things you weren’t until now.

The beautiful part is that we really, really, really love what we do. It’s a weird job, but the transformations we help create are so worth it, and they’re exactly the reason why we do this work. And, you can only rearrange your own drawers so many times until someone calls you anal. 

We’d rather be called Professional Organizers.