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How do I know if I even need an organizer?

08/13/2013 7:44 PM | Mary Cate Claudias, CPO®

If you’re curious about whether or not you need a professional organizer, or perhaps just some consultation in order to start off on the right track by yourself, answer each of the following questions honestly.

1)     This sounds like me and my surfaces:

a.    I can’t really see too much surface area (end tables, kitchen counters, dining room table, etc.) on the main living area of my house.  Most surfaces only get a clear spot when I push stuff aside. I have containers for the stuff near or on these surfaces but they aren’t getting used.

b.    Typically my surfaces have a lot of stuff on them but I stash it all away quickly when people come over so the containers and organizational products I bought become “miscellaneous” bins. 

I try and get everyone in the house to pick up their stuff and put it away but there’s not enough space for everything… or maybe the right system?  So usually I’m the one who gets tired of never seeing / using my furniture and do a mad clean up once a week or so.

I have stuff on my dining room table right now (it’s 2pm) but by tonight, it won’t be there because the mail will be processed and anything else that got dropped there will be in its proper home by dinner so we can eat.

When I walk into the house…

I usually step over or on a pile of shoes, work stuff, book bags, sports gear, etc. and am so frustrated by this every day. Will it ever get better?

I’d love (and love others in the house) to hang my coat immediately, put my shoes, purse, gym bag, etc, exactly where they belong… but it’s not realistic with my schedule and lifestyle.  I’ll get to it over the weekend….maybe.

I usually step over or on a pile of shoes, work stuff, book bags, sports gear, etc. but it’s because everyone else entering the home isn’t using the hooks, closet, bins, etc. that I created for the stuff.  I put MY stuff away.

I usually drop my stuff (or others drop theirs) but then we come back around in the next few hours and put it where it belongs.  At least by the time we go to bed.

3)    When a friend, family member or even service repair man comes into my home, I feel like….

a.    I don’t let them in. I would never want them to see how I’m living.

I’m embarrassed and I’m constantly apologizing for the state of things, but I don’t have the time to keep it up the way other people do.

It’s messy – Some laundry in a basket ready to go upstairs; toys around the floor; my work stuff is on the dining room table from last night - but it doesn’t bother me if people see my mess.  I think this is pretty normal for hard working people.

Well, my stuff is put away (most of the time), but it bothers me that others in my house aren’t using the systems I put together!  Why am I the only one doing it all? Because when people walk into my home, I shouldn’t have to frantically pick up after everyone else, even when there is an organizing home for everything!  I should be stress free and proud when someone comes to visit.

The mail – and what’s going on with it.

a.    The amount of mail I get is disturbing. So many bills, magazines, junk mail fliers…. It’s really overwhelming so it goes into a box under my desk. I get around to it when I can but if I’m totally honest, there is probably some stuff in there I haven’t opened in a few months. 

The mail coming in is a pain but I usually tackle it once a week, maybe a bit longer in between sit-down sessions.

It usually gets put down onto the kitchen counter or dining room table (maybe entry way) and at least every few days, we go through it.

I pick it up daily.  I go through it and determine what needs to be done with what (shred, recycle, pay, etc.) and what needs to go to whom in the house.  All junk mail and extra envelopes, etc. go straight into the recycling bin. Bills go into a folder to get paid.

I might (ok… I do) do this:

a.    I buy every organizational product, bin, basket and desk organizer on the market (sometimes a few times a week) because they WILL help me get more organized!  Just that a few of them haven’t made it out of the box yet.

I like decorative and functional things in my home.  I buy a few things a month that will help me get more organized and mostly… when I have time to put them together, they work ‘okay’… but not great.

There are SO many organizational products out there now – it’s way too overwhelming.  I love going into Bed, Bath & Beyond and getting stuff but then I get it home and it just doesn’t fit or work.  And I don’t have time to take it back.

Usually, I don’t buy a product unless I know there’s a great need for it. I measure the space and map out a plan of function and user-probability before I buy something new.

Okay, now tally your score.

A’s = 4

B’s = 3

C’s = 2

D’s = 1

If you scored:

5-10 = Want a job? No, seriously. Your organizing is okay, but we could help you refine it to make you even more efficient and a bit less stressed.

10-15 = You have some core issues with organization that with some coaching, we could put aside and make every-day life a bit easier. Some ‘tweaking’ if you will.

15-20 = Organization is probably a major frustration to you, and maybe even others you live with. We understand. We help hundreds of people each year to become better at organizing various aspects of their life.


Whatever your score, reach out to an organizer and learn your options. Many of us offer free phone consultations and we can help you find the level of organization that you want or need to be happier and move past some of the things that rang a bell above.

© 2013 Mary Cate Claudias, Charm City Organizers. All Rights Reserved.

Mary Cate Claudias is a Professional Organizer and founder/CEO of Charm City Organizers, LLC in Baltimore City, Maryland. Drawing on her experiences in teaching, coaching and non-profit management, she helps small businesses and home owners live less stressful and more productive lives. 

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