Sometimes, it takes a pro to get organized

Someone to sort and put things away when messes start piling up.

Sounds like a 10-year-old’s fantasy, right after mom says to “clean your room.” Sounds a little like mom, in fact.

It’s not. Professional organizers have been quietly growing in number, with a secret list of clients who are overwhelmed, under-motivated or otherwise unable to deal with the things they’ve accumulated around their home or office.

Monika Kristofferson, a Lake Stevens organizer, knows the story well. Many of her clients are moms who don’t have the time to organize like they once did. Others are recovering from a tragedy or caring for elderly parents.

“I’m working with people who are overwhelmed and just don’t know where to start,” she said.

Often, Kristofferson has to become a bit of a psychologist, recognizing that the reason people hold on to clutter can’t be ignored.

“I believe we hold on to things because we’re afraid,” she said. “We’re afraid to making a bad decision. But most things we let go, if we find out we really need that thing later, we could get that back.”

Kristofferson has been organizing homes and workspaces for two years, part of a growing work-for-yourself movement made more popular by cable television shows about purging spaces of excessive belongings.

The National Association of Professional Organizers has about 4,200 members at last count. Members such as Kristofferson have to agree to ethical standards, which include confidentiality for clients.

The process is simple and straightforward, but it’s one Kristofferson said her clients have to be involved in. After an initial consultation, she shows up at clients’ homes wearing jeans and tennis shoes, ready to sort, recycle and label.

Kristofferson found her way to professional organizing after years as a medical assistant — and comments from friends and family members.

“Everyone always told me I was so organized, that they wished I could help them,” she said.

Besides her business, Efficient Organization, she blogs about organization, and publishes YouTube instructional videos with the help of a tech-savy business partner.

Eventually, she’d plans on growing her online consultation business. For now, videos and membership to the site are free.

Amy Rolph: 425-339-3029, Read her small-business blog at

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