Although there are no education requirements for personal organizers, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) does offer certification, and some universities and trade schools have professional organizer certificate programs. Such courses vary in length from as short as one day to a full certificate program.
Those who meet the NAPO's requirements can pursue certification as a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO). This requires having a high school diploma, agreeing to the CPO ethical code and having at least 1,500 hours of work experience completed throughout the last three years. College education can substitute for a maximum of 250 of these hours.
Some of the common topics covered are:
- Organizational principles
- Needs assessments
- Time management strategies
- How to reduce clutter and utilize space
- Boundaries and ethics
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Overview of Classes
Principles of Organization
A study of the principles of organization provides students with an introduction to the basics of organizational theory. This course covers topics in time management, sorting, categorizing, removal of excess, space utilization and workflow efficiency. Other skills that may be developed during this course include the types of clients a professional organizer may work with and client behaviors. Learning styles, personalities and chronic disorganization are also topics for discussion.
A needs assessment is a review of a client's current organizational structure. After the assessment is made, a personal organizer would then have a conversation about their client's desired results. This course focuses on the reasons to have a needs assessment and how to approach the assessment process. Students learn proper assessment preparation based on client requests, specific communication and presentation techniques, and how to conduct a proper needs assessment.
A personal organizer needs to be in charge, managing the organizational process from start to finish. In a project management course, students learn how to work with clients to set up an initial project plan. Students also learn specifics on how to work with budget constraints, additional help or contractors, and how to overcome potential road blocks. Specific skills may be developed in using tools for project coordination, project timelines, project completions and assessment.
In a business organization course, students may learn the best strategies for working with entire companies, departments or business professionals. Time is spent on developing an organizational plan, setting goals and following up on an assessment. Personal organizers working for business organizations may not only deal with the physical organization of office files and clutter, but also the organization of team members and departments.