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General Organizing | Mindfulness

What a Professional Organizer Really Does; The Surprising Truth

Oct 14
Laura Coufal

About Me

I’m a West Coast girl turned small town, Midwest Mom. I love the outdoors, cooking, writing, and spending time with my family. I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

I am a high energy person, and love to see a messy room transform into an organized space. My need for order and simplicity stems from my ADHD disability as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am miraculously able to help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 


There are some misconceptions about the role of a professional organizer that many are unaware of. The following are some truths I discovered in my own journey as a professional organizer. Some of these truths, may surprise you.

The Solution is Not Always in the Organizing Products

Years ago, when I first started my professional home organizing business, I spent hours at the Container Store trying to save to memory, every organizing product in the store. I wanted to be as prepared as possible and have product suggestions ready at hand. In my mind, the solution to most organizing problems, was all about finding the right organizing products and putting systems in place.

While this is not entirely untrue, I soon realized that in reality, the only supplies needed for the majority of organizing jobs I would be doing included: Garbage bags, some empty boxes, a black permanent marker, sticky notes and my trusty label maker.

That’s pretty much it.

There are exceptions to this rule of course. Some jobs do require specialty organizing products to be purchased prior to getting the job done. But for most jobs, once a project is near completion, we often find that we don’t need to do any shopping at all.  Because in the process of sorting and purging, we have emptied several containers.  We also often uncover multiple previously purchased organizing products that were once buried in the clutter.

It’s Not Always Good to Shop First

Once we have finished sorting and making decisions about what to keep, we do occasionally need to purchase a few organizing products; clear containers, maybe a tiered shelf or a Lazy Susan.  But more often than not, my clients have already purchased several products months before getting started. They do this with the good intention of getting the job done, but to their dismay, once the shopping is done, they lose their motivation to continue.

Does this sound familiar?

It is a common scenario.  In fact, by the time we are ready to start putting organizing products into place, we often end up with several extra products that we don’t use.  This ends up being wasted money spent. For this reason, I don’t recommend shopping prior to sorting and purging.

It’s Not Always Pretty

In the beginning, what I expected to be doing as a professional organizer on a day to day basis, is different than what I actually do most of the time. I imagined I would be organizing pantries and closets and making spaces beautiful.

Though I was not entirely wrong about these things, I do occasionally organize pantries and master closets. And I very much enjoy transforming a messy closet or pantry into an organized, efficient and beautiful space.

But the truth is, most of my jobs, are not so pretty.

On many days, I am in a storage room or garage and we are up to our ears in dust and the stuff of yesterday. Or, we are working with massive piles of paperwork that have taken over an office.  Other times, it’s a whole house that is in dire need of attention.  Often, we are simply decluttering a room that has gotten out of hand because there is too much stuff in to too small of a space. 


It’s Not Always Just About the Finding the Space

Those who reach out to me are frequently overwhelmed, frustrated and down to their last nerve.  Many have the same fear; that their house is the worst house I have ever seen. When I show up at the front door, they are nervous embarrassed and feeling vulnerable.

Some are going through a difficult life transition that has left them feeling out control and buried. Some have dealt with their personal clutter issues for so long, they have grown deeply weary of this burden that they have been carrying around for years.  Self-sabotage and doubt keep them stuck and they are angry at themselves for not being able to do this on their own.

It’s Not Always About the Stuff 

Often, getting organized is less about finding just the right way to store our stuff, and more about targeting why the disorganization is happening in the first place. For those who have struggled with clutter for a long period of time, the key to getting organized once and for all, may be more about dissecting habits, tendencies, and internal beliefs. Things like perfectionism, ADHD, depression, addiction and procrastination can all be roadblocks to getting organized as well.  

Targeting the cause is key.

While our ultimate end goal is to start with a messy room and end up with a clutter free, orderly space, often my biggest challenge is to help my client gain self-awareness and self-trust. We want to end up with a more balanced perspective in order to achieve lasting results, rather than just a temporary fix.


clothing and closets

It’s Always About Connecting With My Client


My real work lies in connecting with my client on a deeper level, with compassion and understanding. My job is to be there to lend a helping hand without judgement or criticism. We may need to work on less obvious factors that are contributing to the clutter. It might involve redirecting thoughts that are immobilizing and self-defeating. Fostering self-trust and building on successes, one step at a time is often the key to lasting change.  

It’s really the relationship I have with my client, and my understanding of their needs that is important. Though I did not anticipate these things going into my career as a professional organizer, I greatly value this part of my job.  I am often an accountability partner, cheer leader, friend, and coach all at the same time. I find my job most rewarding when I can help my client make permanent changes that result in improving their overall quality of life.


Trust Yourself

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