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What can a pro organizer do for me?

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The pre-spring doldrums can really take a toll on your house. The flurry of activity around the holidays is long in the past, but spring itself is still some weeks away. Put that time to good use: Before you do your spring cleaning, you can set yourself on the path to household order.

Your best bet is to hire a professional organizer. Pros usually charge between $55 and $100 per hour. If you hire them on a per-project rate, the average fee is $580. Consider looking for pros certified by the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO; formerly the National Association of Professional Organizers.)

Before you hire, figure out what you want. Organizers often charge per project, per room, or per hour. Maybe you want them to take you through deep-organizing one room, so you learn the skills to handle the rest of the house yourself. Or you could hire them to take you through the process top to bottom and front to back!

When you select your organizer, make sure itís someone you feel excited about working with. Youíll be spending at least a few hours, if not multiple days, with them as you go through most of your belongings. Here are some tried-and-true tips from professional organizers to bring your space under control.

Ideas for kitchen organization

- Separate canned and dry goods into categories (soups, vegetables, baking goods, etc.) and keep items on assigned shelves.

- Use clear storage boxes to keep perishables in the fridge near eye level so you don't forget to use them. Donít forget to label them with dates. You can store canned drinks, leftovers, lunch meats and cheese in the crisper drawers to free up shelf space.

- Keep plastic lids on their bowls. It might take up more space, but consider the time and frustration saved by not having to hunt down a matching set.

- Use dividers in all the drawers to keep item piles from merging. This is especially important in the ubiquitous ďjunk drawer.Ē

Hints for bedroom organization

- Use under-bed boxes for off-season clothing, extra pillows and spare sheets and blankets.

- Consider installing a closet organization system. These handy setups come in all sizes and price ranges, with many offering shelf and hanging space, coordinating doors, and drawers and accessories. They not only organize your closet, but free up extra storage space. Tips to go paperless

- You can pay most bills online these days, which helps cut down on paper mess.

- Sift through your mail as soon as it arrives and toss any junk mail.

- Have a specific place for reminders, such as school calendars. Corkboards or household calendars can keep important dates and paperwork on your daily radar so nothing falls between the cracks. Toss any paperwork if you no longer need it. Take a picture or scan kidsí artwork from school instead of keeping the original (that is, if youíre not too sentimental). If you canít part with a memento, designate a decorative keepsake box for each family member.

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