I was given one of the best compliments I ever received as an organizer. My client, as she was sorting things, “I don’t even have to think about the sorting.”
How could she say such a thing? Making decisions about what to do with stuff is usually so agonizing. The secret is simple. Shallow boxes filled with stuff handed to her by me, one at a time.
I know. The secret seems way too simple. But seriously, simple is usually the most effective. Here is how I helped my client get her kitchen in order in about four hours with the key being shallow boxes.
1. I started by removing all the contents of shelves and placing them into a shallow box. You can either use a re-usable plastic bin or a box with the dimensions of about 6 inches deep, 2 1/2 feet long and 2 feet wide.
2. I found a clear place in the kitchen. In this case, it was the stove. I placed the box on the stove where my client could easily sort. Sometimes she sat on a stool, some times she stood.
3. I placed two more shallow boxes near by my client for putting things that she was sorting. One was give away, the other was keep.
4. My client started sorting the one box into the two boxes.
5. Soon it became clear that there were other categories. After she warmed up with just the two, we added the following boxes with these labels:
- Put back on shelf
- Find a home
- Has a home (put away)
- Hubby–look through
- office supplies
- Art supplies
- give away
After we sorted out every single cabinet, two three-drawer plastic bins, and the surface of all the counters, she probably touched a total of a thousand items without feeling overwhelmed one bit. Here were the results:
- two valuable items which she had been looking for were found
- shelves were organized so that items were more accessible and in logical categories
- Clear plastic containers were used to contain smaller items for easy access as well as visibility of the category–eliminating the need for labels
- the emptied plastic sets of drawers were re-organized-one for office supplies and the other for art supplies.
- The drawers were put in other spaces in the house which were more logical which freed up badly needed space in the kitchen.
- 5 boxes of items were gathered. Many of these were food and nice items which are going to be given to needy families that Fun, Fellowship and Service (a youth group my kids started) are adopting for Christmas.
- Space was created so that things could be put back in a more organized fashion
- Client felt delighted that the give away items were going to a good cause which she could think about as she sorted.This added to lessened stress and increased endorphins.
Here was the division of labor:
- Took things off shelves and placed on the stove for client to sort.
- Cleaned the shelves after they were emptied
- Kept a watchful eye to see when a box was emptied and had another box always ready
- Put things away with input from client
- Suggested new categories as they came up
- Labeled boxes
- Sorted art supplies and office supplies into the plastic drawer sets
- Served as encouragement and gave ideas when needed
- drank lots of Kangen water
- Touched every item once
- made decisions as to what to do with items
- gave me direction in fine tuning the categories
- some spaces that she used a lot and which were easily accessible–pantry and spice area–she put back items as she wanted them while I did other stuff
- drank lots of Kangen water and tried out my green smoothie
What really gratified me was that my client did not get overwhelmed as so many do, even after working 5 hours without a break.
We did the kitchen in about 3 3/4 hours, which I think is very admirable!
The other things we accomplished during the six hour session were:
- Rearranging the living room together, including getting furniture to storage.50 minutes
- Organizing and cleaning a book case so that there was room for DVD’s and a piece of unwanted furniture could be easily removed–by myself.40 minutes
- Discussing the whole job and getting to know each other. 20 minutes (oh yeah–we did that in the very beginning.)
- Wrapping up the job including stacking up the boxes I brought and putting all back together–by myself.25 minutes
Total time: 6 hours.
We were both very happy with what we accomplished together. I left the home with a bunch of great stuff to give to Fun, Fellowship and Service’s needy families and a feeling of joy that I had helped another satisfied client.
I am working on an ebook to outline my technique of Organizing Fast, and this job really inspired me to get it done. The simple technique using shallow boxes works so well.