Congratulations. You’ve realized you wasted enough of your precious time going solo.
You’re ready for help with the things you’re tolerating (putting up with) in your spaces and life.
The next step is figuring out who to contact.
Here are eight professional services, what they offer, and when to call them.
Some will help improve your spaces. Some will help improve you.
In all cases, be sure to interview a few possibilities. Professionals are accustomed to being quizzed and don’t take it personally if you return to them after initially choosing someone else.
Remember, they’re interviewing you simultaneously to be sure they can offer you want, what they think you need, if you’re going to be reliable in scheduling and payments, and if you have realistic expectations of what’s possible.
Discuss hopes, fears, and expectations. The more specifics shared in the interviewing conversation, the better you’ll work together.
In my case, I’ve declined potential clients who have more than one lawsuit in the works, who complain about former service providers, who cancel appointments a lot, and who challenge fees. I want us to be happy with each other. Income considerations aren’t paramount.
Verify you each understand the processes and goals before and during your relationship.
Managers and Assistants
All projects require planning and oversight. Hiring a manager saves time and money and increases successful outcomes if you don’t have the time or expertise to manage your personal and business projects.
Are you keeping up with your small business details?
It’s a leap for hardy entrepreneurs to admit they can’t do it all. But when you can’t keep up, it’s time for someone to relieve you of coordinating the hundreds of small tasks that prevent you from attending to sales, promotions, planning, and other essential business requirements, including free time.
Do you have enough time to oversee your home or daily life well?
Consider hiring a personal assistant or household manager. They can coordinate schedules, keep track of tasks, bookkeeping, maintenance, purchase supplies, run errands, and perform other activities that keep houses and families running smoothly.
Contractors range from generalists to specialists and renovation to new construction. Like a household or business general manager, A General Contractor will take responsibility for hiring subcontractors, ensuring deliveries, and work completion.
A quick list of subcontractors includes skilled trades like electricians, plumbers, masons, insulators, carpenters, cabinet makers, and HVAC.
Whether you hire a specialty contractor or a generalist, ask for their recommendations and caveats. Be sure to get references and, most importantly, a signed contract.
A wonderfully unique group of people enjoy troubleshooting and repairing things too small for a contractor or specialist.
They fix minor concerns before they become significant issues, like cabinet doors that don’t close properly, install shelving in just the right spot, replace lighting, update door hardware and plumbing fixtures, and repair walls.
It’s worth your time to find service people you’re comfortable with. Clients have told me they won’t share their names for fear they’ll be too busy for them, but they are out there!
The best way to work with a professional like this is to have a list of items ready when you call so they can plan their time (and your money) efficiently.
People often assume a small job equals a small bill and don’t understand why a light fixture swap may be a half-day project.
It takes time to identify needs, buy supplies, travel to the job, review, set up, do the repairs, dismantle tools, clean up, and travel to the next job. That doesn’t even include their accounting and insurance costs. So do everyone a favor and have a list ready.
Things to ask about:
What is their schedule and availability?
Do they have insurance and references?
Are they available for emergency repairs?
Will they work alone or bring others to your location?
Do they charge by the hour, the day, travel, and supply pick up?
How often do they want to be paid? Do they take credit cards or checks?
Are there other tradespeople they can recommend if they can’t do a job?
What do they want you to know about them, their services, and what makes their ideal customer?
Like handyfolks, cleaners maintain your spaces. You may be able to do a lot of it yourself, but having help saves you time. They also bring new ideas.
Many clients have told me they’ll hire a cleaner when their spaces are organized.
I agree with that, but I also know having a cleaning professional regularly speeds up the organizing process. Their work motivates people to bring more order to their spaces and habits. “I have to straighten up for the cleaners” is not a bad thing.
This group includes bookkeepers, accountants, estate planners, tax strategists, and investment advisors.
Do you track your income and expenses? Do you understand what the numbers mean to your stability? Are you able to plan for your future?
A few tweaks can yield significant results.
If you think you can’t afford it, consider asking friends and family for a referral to someone who might offer a short free assessment or find online checklists and other resources. Rena-Fi is an excellent online educational group that offers low-cost, friendly workshops and presentations.
Like building repair services, money planners can keep your financial house stable and enjoyable. They can prevent avoidable economic disasters.
Accountants can’t do much to reduce your tax bill once the year ends, so schedule mid-year reviews.
It’s OK to occasionally compare financial service providers, even if you’ve been working with someone. Fees, services, and regulations change, so don’t be shy about asking for an independent review.
Some organizers will simply organize the area you specify, like a kitchen, a filing system, or a supply closet. They can find products that streamline your spaces and will work with you once or on an ongoing basis.
But clients often need more than decluttering or reorganization.
When I began to offer services, I quickly realized people needed referrals to many other services.
For example, revamping business information led to realizing they needed business strategists.
Organizing pantries lead to strategizing meal planning with clients and ultimately to therapists and dietitians. Cluttered spaces led to referrals to builders, designers, and even family counselors.
Virtual organizing works too. Contact me!
I’m biased in favor of the coaching profession as a starting point for change, but you know that.
Coaches are not therapists, but a therapist can be a coach. A good coach knows the difference.
Coaches do not address mental health, family dynamics, and serious issues such as trauma; they are therapeutic areas.
Therapists are highly trained and are regulated. Coaching is an unregulated profession.
Health insurance companies do not reimburse for coaching as they do for therapy. Innovative businesses have experienced the value of coaching and will often provide services for their staff.
Coaches help you plan a direction, strategize steps, and provide regular check-ins to keep you on track. They are a springboard for change, will share insights from experiences, and offer you questions to help you clarify what you want. It’s an investment in your future.
There are many specialties in the coaching field, from sports to financial, health to relationships, ADD to business, and generalists like life coaches who view clients’ lives holistically. Click here for a 10 point mastery self-assessment.
For insights into their philosophies, ask about training, longevity, who they serve, and what makes them feel successful. Other factors include having pre-designed programs, groups or individual clients, or specific age groups or conditions.
Remember, flashy marketing does not equate with the service you need.
Before dismissing the idea of having a coach, weigh the cost of coaching against the cost of inertia, overwhelm, and procrastination.
While last on this list, therapists are not the last professionals to call.
In fact, I think everyone can learn from good therapy before embarking on adult life. On that note, everyone would benefit from some working in a restaurant too, but that’s for another article.
Unexamined history, beliefs, and habits can lead to dysfunction in many areas or prevent you from accessing a more fulfilling life.
Cluttered spaces, chronic lateness, or disorganized households can be symptoms of depression and anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or other therapeutic/medical conditions.
Some concerns can be addressed relatively quickly. Some issues benefit from longer-term support. There is no shame in seeking help from people who are ready to assist you in accessing a better life. Even feeling shame in this regard is an excellent reason to get support.
To find therapeutic help, check with your health insurance directory and online directories like Psychology Today.
Wise people understand the value of managers, consultants, maintenance services, organizers, coaches, and therapists.
Your next 4 steps
1. Start by making a list of what you want and need help with.
2. Review the eight most needed services above.
3. Ask friends, visit sites like Yelp, Facebook, Angi, and Google reviews.
4. Contact at least three providers before choosing your helper.
Share the pain, the gain, and the wealth
Don’t let the anxiety of “What if I didn’t make the best choice” stop you.
Few choices are permanent. There are lots of professionals dedicated to sharing their talents and training with you.
Most of the time, people are pleased they sought help and are happy with those that helped them.
Not only will you gain time and knowledge, but you’ll also meet interesting people who love to help others succeed.
Why deny everyone the pleasure?
Who is first on your list?
Not sure what’s next?
Let’s talk about what you can do on your own, and where you’d save time and money having professional help.