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Are you a hoarder?

Are you a hoarder? Unorganized maybe, but a hoarder doubtful. The word hoarder has become a stereotyped label over the years as hand-washing has become associated to OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Truth is we all have a bout with clutter at one time or another. But, how do you know when you have a serious organizing problem? When is the right time to call a professional for help? Failing to put away clean laundry for a day or two, or accumulating a healthy pile of junk mail does not constitute the need for a professional organizer. But, if you find yourself living out of laundry baskets and have a tablecloth made by the United Postal Service, you may want to examine the situation more closely.

Why we collect
Busy people live busy lives. Time is of the essence and free time does not come often, and when it does, cleaning and organizing is not high on the priority list. As we grow older, it’s not uncommon for us to form emotional bonds with our possessions. We may feel the urge to own multiples of the same item, “just in case.” These emotional attachments often lead to clutter and lots of it, and in a hurry. A person overrun with clutter can look at the space and immediately feel the connection to each item. They don’t see clutter, they see things they like, want, and believe they need. Eventually, this pattern of behaviour causes one to feel overwhelmed and conflicted. Calling a professional organizer at this point is the proactive approach to rectifying the situation.

Finding a professional
Who do you call and how do you hire a professional organizer? The same way you would hire any professional contractor, housekeeping company, pest control, painter, etc., cautiously and systematically. Start your search with recommendations from friends and family followed by a local Internet research. Utilize reviews and suggestions but don’t discount your personal intuition, ever. Prepare for the consultation by writing down your questions, and ask them all.

What to expect
A professional should appear and act like such with a neat appearance and genuine dialect. She or he should make you feel special and show a sincere appreciation for your business, and never project pushiness. A true professional always has listening ears on and makes every effort to understand your needs. If you feel yourself tense or uneasy during the consultation, which ideally should be at no cost to you, perhaps this is not the right choice for hire. Interview a minimum of three professionals and compare notes. Lean towards organizers providing a complete cost of the project rather than an hourly fee with an open-ended estimation of total costs. Inquire about the workers, are they employees of the company or independent contractors. Reputable and experienced organizing companies have employees not contracted workers. Lastly, you want an organizing professional who is concerned about keeping you organized once the project is completed.

Organizing is a sensitive, and sometimes costly investment, one you want to be certain is well spent. Experts estimate only two to five per cent of Americans truly meet criteria to be labelled a hoarder. Yes, clutter is contagious and can spread like a virus, but with a few secrets from the pros and a conscientious effort you too can live clutter free!

-by Peter Lorenzo