Start by assessing whether you really need to enlist an organizer. If you are relatively neat, you probably can save money and hassle by tackling the work yourself. Click here for dozens of ideas on how to get rid of unwanted stuff.

But as is the case with most life challenges, if you suspect you need help, then you probably do. If you’ve got a messy attic/junk-filled garage/stuffed closet you’ve avoided dealing with, you might get a lot out of spending a few hours with a pro. To examine how organizers work and who would (or wouldn’t) benefit from their services, we asked six staffers and friends-of-Checkbook to try out professional neat freaks on each of their very different projects, ranging from a junked-up garage to a kitchen that needed a new space-saving scheme to a designer needing pics indexed for a digital project to a blind author needing help sorting piles of paperwork. They share their experiences and their takeaways in the articles that follow.

Our test-case staffers found it was valuable to have a stranger’s unbiased opinion; some friendly, informed guidance; and another pair of hands. Downsizing seniors and persons who suffer from hoarding disorders definitely can benefit from hiring an expert.

We were shocked by differences in fees charged by organizers we contacted. A few wanted large retainers and would take on projects only if our subjects agreed to pay for a minimum of eight hours or more of consulting time.

Overall, we find that those who are disorganized or messy tend to get the most benefit from bringing in a pro; tidier folks often agree organizers provide some ideas and help, but after learning tips on how to tackle their messes, they often doubt they’d shell out again for these services.