Professional Organizer: What’s In My Bags?

Feb 4

Since announcing that I’m doing this gig officially and am a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails / questions from folks stopping by the blog or in person. Most people begin the conversation by asking how I got started or how long I’ve been doing it. But generally the conversation quickly turns to questions about the fun part of my job – what’s in my bags or what are my tricks / secrets…have I ever worked with hoarders. haha!

For those of you thinking about becoming a professional organizer, I’m always happy to chat with you – I’ve taken calls from readers too and we’ve had fun hashing it out over the phone. I’m planning to occasionally pop in here to share some behind the scenes stuff. And for starters, today I thought it’d be fun to share what exactly is in my bags.

This is how the back of my car looks today…

I’d be thrilled it if it looked like this more often. But it’s going to change drastically tomorrow after I pick up THREE full closet systems from The Container Store. On other days you may find all 4 seats folded flat and a carload full of goodwill items packed inside. Generally, this is how I keep the back of my truck with the exception of these items…

I’m working with 5 clients this month – I’m doing some high end consignment from one of them (that jacket is a go-back to her) and the rolling 3-drawer bin is for another client I’m seeing next week. Anything that belongs to clients is generally tucked away back here. That way it’s not getting accidentally damaged by the kids and if they called me to swing by, I’d have their things on hand.

In case you were wondering what these are…

These are mesh storage cubes from The Container Store. They used to contain toys in the kids playroom, but since we’ve leaned out our toy collection, I’m able to use these for sorting with clients. I love that they fold flat – there’s about 15 of them folded up inside this cube.

Moving on to my bags…

I am in love with these! I scored them at The Container Store a few weeks ago for 50% off. Apparently they are discontinuing these, so if you’ve been looking for bags like this – grab some at your local store or find them online right here.

The bags are big and roomy on the inside, which works for me because I tend to have a lot of bulky items that go on a job with me. I love the straps (comes with 2 different types) – they are very comfortable to carry on my shoulder no matter how much weight I have crammed inside. My bags are packed and ready for my client on Thursday. When I worked with her last week, we put together a short list of things she needed and I did the shopping during the week leading up to our appt later this week. This way when I see her, everything I bought is packed up and ready. There are 2 gift wrap organizers (she’s going to pick one, the other will be returned)…

Chalkboard labels for bins in her playroom…

Wall hooks for her entry closet – to get her purses up off the closet floor…

My chalk pen for the labels and my planner to schedule our next appointment…

In the second bag…

My label maker with extra label tape tucked inside the 2 pockets…

Her client file and closet install paperwork…

I like bringing my laptop (or ipad mini) to have as a resource for looking up products I’m suggesting or sharing other work I’ve done…

The other items I can’t be without is my Command Adhesive collection…

And my girly tool bag…

I’ve needed this tool bag too many times to ever leave home without it…

The one item in this tool bag I must have? My measuring tape! Many times a space is in need of a new solution, which I spend time researching after our appt when I’m at home. I make sure to measure the space I’m buying for as well the whatever the contents are…this way I’m not bothering my clients later asking them to measure a space and message it back to me. I use a measuring tape on pretty much every job. It’s a fact!

I also keep a small pad of adhesive labels…they are a useful item when we’re sorting or organizing a space…

Not shown, but also must-have’s = a pad of paper, my favorite pens, my camera for before and after shots, trash bags (for gathering up garbage or donations – which I haul away for my clients), and a few snacks/water for me. Most of my appointments are typically 3-4 hours long and sometimes back to back. I’m trying to be better about eating little snacks throughout the day to keep up my energy.

The contents of my bag change, of course, depending on who I’m seeing and what we’re doing, but I think this gives you a general idea about what I’m bringing along. The key is always knowing exactly what we are doing before I show up. That way these bags are packed appropriately.

Oh, for fun, I occasionally treat my clients to a organization-related gift. I work with a lot of companies here on the blog and they’ve been overly generous when sending products to review. I’ve got quite a collection (more stashed away elsewhere) that I can grab from depending on who I’m working with. I like to make people happy and gift them, what can I say…

Since I’m chatting a bit about clients…

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed in January when 5-7 people called within a weeks time to book me for ongoing help. To keep my head from spinning with all of their details, needs and requests, I quickly created client files for each of them with some extra file folders, washi tape and my label maker. Now I have a spot to keep receipts for reimbursement or their goodwill tax donation slips or measurements of the spaces we are working on. These files are great for keeping myself organized at home while working on their projects, but are also great to grab and bring with me to an appointment.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re thinking about doing this job professionally, I’m happy to chat with you about it!

Have a great day guys!

 

comments +

  1. Niina S. says:

    Thank you for this post! As someone who's just getting started with professional organizing, I can never read too many posts about organizing as a job. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this post! I really enjoy the examples, descriptions and photos! Will you tell us now – What is in your tool bag? What are essential command strips and how do you use them? I've never used the command strips. How is your schedule binder organized? I'm todo list challenged right now – nothing is working for me to keep up with things. Thanks!

  3. Rana Dissi says:

    This sounds like a dream job to me. Thank you for this great post.

  4. The bags are lovely. They could help me organize all the things I need to tote around for my kid's activities. I couldn't locate this model bags on the website. Could you help, please?

  5. Bronwyn says:

    Thank you for this post! Don’t you just LOVE the Container Store? I worked there seasonally for a while and they really take good care of their employees. I was so sad to leave when we moved away! Anyway, one tip I have to share is to take two colors of trash bags – white for donate, and black for trash. Even though we try our best to keep track of everything, it can be easy to mistakenly toss good items (whether it’s the client or me.) This way they can be sure things are going where they belong.

    • Samantha says:

      How fun to work there seasonally! Yes, each employee I meet at my local store (and others) always appear to be very happy – which is a great indicator of a company treating them well. Great tip about the bags! Because I’m so particular, I’ve never had any issue with things ending up where they aren’t supposed to…I also have zones in my car where things go as I leave someone’s home, so that helps me! 🙂 But such a great tip!!!

      Happy new year and thank you so much for the comment!!!

      xo,
      Sam

  6. Ahnna Dorsett says:

    Can you tell me what the container is that’s holding your Command strip collection? Also, do you feel it’s easier to keep everything in separate (super cute) bags as opposed to a rolling cart container like a Stanley Mobile Work Station? I haven’t compiled my took kit yet and I’m not sure which route to go. I also like the Stanley type organizers for all those office supply things like binder clips, sharpies, and even small tools or things like sip ties. Do you find ever find these things necessary?

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