So … what the heck IS a professional organizer?!?


I heard recently — I think it was a BBC story that was on NPR — that Americans define themselves by their profession.  Because, you know, what we do justifies our existence…

Think about it. How many times have you gone to a cocktail party and had at least five (boring) conversations that start with “What’s your name?” swiftly followed by  “And what do you DO?”

After I answer, “I’m a professional organizer,” my interrogator then says, “A professional organizer?? what’s that? do you organize UNIONS?” This is usually said with a sneer, as unions are not generally looked upon with favor these days — but that’s a different blog topic!

And until recently, I’ve struggled with a definition of what a professional organizer IS. I’ve described what I DO, but not necessarily what I AM. And there IS a difference, as most English teachers and dictionaries will tell you!

First of all, I’m partial to the term “professional personal organizer.” Like a personal trainer, except I build organizational skills rather than muscles and physical endurance! The definition I’ve come up with is:

“A professional personal organizer is someone who helps clients gain control of their belongings, and models new habits and behaviors concerning how they store, maintain and track their belongings. S/he takes ongoing courses in coaching, organizing theories, time management, and behavior theory; belongs to the industry association (NAPO) and abides by NAPO’s code of ethics; and attends industry meetings and conferences to stay current and involved in the professional organizing field.”

So that’s what the heck a Professional (Personal) Organizer is — Me!

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