tidy Making a sum
Would you pay $400 to a professional to organise your desk, then teach you how to keep it neat?
That is the going rate for the services provided by these niche groups here. According to the handful who are based in Singapore, people are willing to pay.
Ms Georgina Wong, chief executive officer of Asian Professional Organisers, said her business turnover has doubled over the past two years due to an increasing awareness of the service.
She set up her firm in 2011 after years of organising conferences and events.
Last year, she was hired by eight to 10 clients per month and charged between $350 and $400 for three hours of service.
Ms Nathalie Ricaud, who is also a professional organiser, said clients come to her when they have amassed too many belongings and have space constraints as a result.
"I help these people de-clutter their life by sorting through what they have and keeping only what they use and love, then I help them arrange these things in the most efficient way," she explained.
Sometimes, clients approach professional organisers when they are facing a "situational crisis", Ms Wong pointed out.
She said: "It can be a home owner who wants to sell his place, but needs to make it look presentable to buyers.
"Another client I had was an overwhelmed mother of four who was juggling many things in her life."
Holistic health coach Shamala Tan hired Miss Au-Yong Haw-San to organise her eight-year-old daughter's bedroom.
MADAM TAN, WHO IS IN HER 40S, EXPLAINED: "MY DAUGHTER HAD A BIG ROOM AND SHE HAD TOO MANY TOYS. IT WAS HARD TO ORGANISE THEM AND I FOUND MYSELF GOING AROUND IN CIRCLES NOT KNOWING HOW TO PACK THEM PROPERLY AND IN AN ORGANISED WAY.
"I often felt a little paralysed about where to put what.
"That led to time wasting and I felt a professional would definitely do a better job than me."
Miss Au-Yong spent about eight hours last year on the project and charged Madam Tan about $500.
Professional organisers like her aim to equip their clients with the necessary skills to maintain the spaces after they have been tidied up.
Said Miss Au-Yong: "The goal I usually set for the rooms I organise is for clients to take less than five minutes maintaining the rooms and fewer than 10 seconds to find any item they need."
It is not just the wealthy who employ professional organisers, Ms Wong revealed.
"I've worked with clients who live in three-room HDB flats and those who stay in bungalows with seven to eight rooms," she said.
While such services are popular in the West, they are just starting to develop here, professional organisers acknowledged.
Miss Au-Yong, whose background is in industrial engineering, said about 60 per cent of her business comes from corporate clients who engage her for storage planning. Still, professional organisers are optimistic about growth of the market for their services here.
"The pace of living in Singapore is generally fast, which leaves people with less time to organise and maintain their spaces," said Ms Wong.
I've worked with clients who live in three-room HDB flats and those who stay in bungalows with seven to eight rooms.
- Chief executive officer of Asian Professional Organisers Georgina Wong
My workspace makeover
My excitement level rose, only to dip when I heard about the 'purge stage', where I had to discard things I deemed unnecessary. The hoarder in me was petrified...
- Reporter Jennifer Dhanaraj, before her workspace was reorganised
For almost 1½ years, my desk has resembled a war zone.
Colleagues who sometimes gathered around my desk would even offer to clean it up.
They did - but two days later - it would be back to being messy.
Of course, I tried tidying it myself, but I usually lost those "I bet it'll be messy again" wagers with my co-workers.
So, when my colleague Benita asked me if she could get a professional organiser to tidy up my desk for a report she was doing, I jumped at the chance.
Little did I know that it involved a lot of planning.
Usually, Edits Inc's Miss Au-Yong Haw-San, who prefers to be called San, would assess the situation a day before by personally taking measurements of the workspace which she would be working on.
But I had to do this myself to expedite things for the article. I also had to take photos of my workspace, including the drawers, and send them to San.
Interestingly, I also had to fill up a questionnaire which included my likes and dislikes and what I do at work.
The next day, San came to my office armed with containers and book ends.
She also presented a draft plan based on the questionnaire, telling me how she wanted to include an "inspiration corner" where I could generate ideas.
My excitement level rose, only to dip when I heard about the "purge stage", where I had to discard things I deemed unnecessary.
The hoarder in me was petrified. I was especially reluctant to throw magazines and newspapers away. But once I did, I could see a difference.
Anyone can do this and there is no need for a professional organiser, I thought. But I soon found out this was just the beginning.
San asked me to leave after that first stage. But I was extremely apprehensive as I'm not a fan of other people tidying up after me.
Thankfully, this was not a problem.
When I saw my desk again after San had worked on it, I was surprised because I had not seen this much desk space since my first day on the job.
All my things were put into little containers with labels and each drawer had been allocated to store certain items so I knew which item went where.
San even gave me tips on how to maintain my workspace, the first of which was to stand up and clear my desk immediately after finishing a task.
Another was the five-minute rule where I had to clear the desk before I left the office for the day to avoid clutter.
Her services for a desk like mine that measures 1.8m in length would cost $440.
I did feel that my desk was a little too bare though, but San said it could double as a storage space.
While I understood sentiment, I need my desk to reflect my fun, easygoing personality.
I spend many hours there, so I want to feel comfortable and at home.
So it is up to me to maintain what San had done for me, while at the same time adding a little "life" to my workspace.
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