Chronic Disorganization

Frequently Asked Questions > Organizing

How does an organizing session work?

We begin by surveying the problem areas.  You show me what is working in the home, what isn’t, and we map out an action plan based on your priorities.  I can work with you or on my own, but some interaction is necessary to achieve the custom organizing solutions that match your lifestyle, needs, and personality.  If you are too busy to be available for much of the organizing, we agree on a plan of action and then I make as much headway as I can on my own, consulting with you as needed.

I’m not sure if I need organizing or coaching.  How should I proceed?

Contact me, and we can talk over your needs in greater depth.  In general, a client is ready for coaching when they’re really ready and motivated to make change in their lives.  In-person organizing works well for people who don’t know where or how to start, who need more in-person support during the process to keep them on task, and whose systems are not working for them.

Is my mess the worst you’ve ever seen?

I work with clients with all levels of clutter, from homes which have a few clutter challenges to ones in which the majority of the home is inaccessible.   Most clients have areas in the house they are more or less comfortable in, and areas they feel stuck in.  Whatever your situation, I welcome the challenge and see it as an opportunity to help you create the space and life you want. 

Are you going to pressure me to get rid of things?

No.  My role is to support you in achieving your organizing goals.  If de-cluttering is your goal, I help to guide you in making the right decisions about what to keep and what to purge, but you ultimately determine the pace and direction.  Some clients seek that extra “push” (and even permission) to let go of clutter, others don’t want or need to let go of anything.  You determine what method works best for you. 

How do I assure confidentiality?

I subscribe to a strict code of ethics as presented by NAPO (the National Association of Professional Organizers).  When we begin our work, I provide you with a signed statement assuring confidentiality.

How many hours will it take?

This depends on many factors and is impossible to predict.  Do you just want some basic systems to work with, or do you want your house to look like Martha Stewart moved in?  Are you hoping to change lifelong clutter habits?  If you need to purge, how quickly can you make decisions?  How much stuff is there to sift through?  Do you want me to give you follow-up tasks?  Are you lacking storage space?  Do you have boxes of papers to sort through (paper can take longer than other things)? 

How do you charge?

By the hour.  Please contact me for rates.  I have a 2-3 hour minimum per visit, depending upon your location.  A minimum of three hours is generally advised for a first session.

I’d like to do as much of the job on my own, but I need guidance and support.  Is that possible?

Absolutely.  There are two ways we can do this.  We can work over the phone through coaching sessions where I guide you through the process and help you through any emotional bumps along the way.  See the life coaching section of this website for details on how coaching can work.  Or I can come on a regular basis for a few hours and give guidance and direction to the project.  Some find this really helpful to keep the momentum going with a project that easily gets overwhelming on one’s own.  I have clients who hire me once per week, once per month, or even every few months to make sure the organization systems we set up don’t fall apart.  For large jobs, I find it most effective if we set up several organizing sessions to get the project off the ground, then I can coach by phone after that.  Regular hourly rate applies to phone coaching.

Do you travel out of state?

Yes, for larger jobs I will consider traveling.  I am based in Chicago and I’ve worked with clients in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and San Francisco.

When do you work?

I generally work days and evenings, Monday through Saturday.   Sunday bookings can occasionally be accommodated. 

I have to get organized in a rush, and it’s a big job.  Is this possible?

Yes.  Let me know your goals and time frame, and if necessary we will bring in a small crew to speed up the pace. 

Do you shop for me?

Yes, if purchases are needed and desired, I will shop for supplies, shelving, etc.  Shopping time is billed at the same per-hour rate as organizing.

My (husband/wife/parent/child etc.) is a packrat.  Can you help?

Yes, I’ve helped many in this situation, but the other person will need to be on board.  We should all meet in a preliminary consultation to discuss goals.  

Please feel free to call me at 773.343.2939, or email me at, to answer any other questions you have!

Home    Services     About     Contact

Debra Michaud, M.A.


© Debra Michaud 2011.  All Rights Reserved.                                                                                                773.343.2939