I started as a professional organizer the way I start all of my client projects: I didn’t rush out and buy anything. No, not even a label maker! My business didn’t have much (read: any) cash on hand, so I didn’t want to invest in things I later wouldn’t use.
Over the past two and a half years of working with clients and contracting for other organizers, I’ve learned that there are a few things that are super helpful to have on hand. Some of them are classic organizer standbys, and some are less expected, but they work for me and all fit neatly in this cute monogrammed tote from Toss given to me by a friend as a thank you for co-hosting her baby shower. What a great coincidence that my initials are the name of my business!
So, when I show up on your doorstep to work, here are the tools I bring with me:
- Garbage bags. Pam, a wonderful organizer I’ve worked with on contract jobs, gave me the idea to use black garbage bags for trash, and clear or white ones for donation items. Every client I’ve ever had has used more garbage bags than they ever imagined, so keeping track of what’s in each bag as they pile up is key.
- Post-It notes. I use these to designate piles – just stick them to the floor to create areas to place things while making decisions without having to take the time at that moment to bag everything up.
- Painter’s tape. Great for the first pass at labeling, when you’re not sure where everything is going to end up but what to keep track of what’s where.
- Sharpie. Never gets stuck, writes at any angle, easy to read. I have a fine point for painter’s tape/Post-It notes and a super mega wide tip for labeling boxes.
- Box cutter. Many clients have stored things in cardboard boxes, and these need to be broken down for recycling. A proper blade saves your hands and time spent searching for scissors.
- Screwdriver. I've run into things that need a Phillips head most often, so that's what I carry. This also saves me time in not having to make my client go look for their toolbox.
- Label maker and extra batteries. Yes, I finally bought a label maker! Labels themselves aren’t for everyone, but if you’re a person who thinks in labels, neat and clean custom labels that don’t fall off are a must.
- Measuring tape. I never buy or recommend a product for a client without measuring their space – even if it’s just measuring a shelf for a set of rattan baskets. Good fit is key to ensuring you’ll stay organized long after I leave.
- Square dongle. For my clients who want to pay with a credit card, this is the easiest (and for now, cheapest given my volume of business) way to accommodate them.
I should also note that I arrive ready to move: wearing sneakers and workout clothes, probably a ponytail, definitely no makeup, water bottle in my bag. Lifting, moving furniture, climbing ladders, carrying heavy things: these are all part of my job and I prepare accordingly!