Fourteen years of helping clients downsize and de-clutter has taught me that doing this work by myself is super time consuming and thus often cost-prohibitive for many people. I have now done three organizing jobs where a team helped me. One was all volunteers, another was partially volunteers. I realized that I do have a knack for delegating and motivating helpers to be efficient and effective in their work. I would love to help you to get organized for as well as overseeing the job.
If you want to do it by yourself, I hope all goes well. Here are a few tips if you want to organize a work party to help you with a big job.
Organize a work party
1. Notify friends and family that you are needing help. State a date, beginning and ending time. Preferably have about 8 hours available for people to come. Welcome help at any time during this time. Be sure to call or email them the night before. Have a list of who you are inviting so you can easily remember who to call.
2. Start collecting about 100 boxes at least. All sizes. Too many is much better than not enough. If your house is really cluttered and you have rooms filled with stuff, get 200. Finding boxes is an art in and of itself, and I can help you with that job as well.
3. Go through your house and pick out those things which you will need for the next month. Pretend you are going on a trip. Get a suitcase packed along with toilet articles and other essentials.
4. . Go through each room and do the following:
A. Mark any furniture or large items to be taken out with a bright sticky note
B. Pack any other items you don’t want to be away from you for a month. Simply mark the box, “save”.
C. You don’t have to have people pack up things in drawers and on shelves if you don’t want them too. You decide.
D. Identify especially those paper which you need to address within the next month. Get them into a box and mark it “papers to go through”.
5. Make a list of guidelines you want your volunteers to follow such as:
A. Anything that looks super valuable–put in a shallow box for me to look at.
B. Breakables–pack carefully as if I am moving
C. Only throw away the following things: (you, the one in charge–makes that call)
D. Label all boxes in the following categories:
- Soft (clothes, linens etc.) (these can go in bags if not enough boxes are available)
- miscellaneous small stuff
- Miscellaneous medium stuff
- Miscellaneous large stuff (if too large to put in a box, simply place it somewhere in the staging area
E. Be compassionate–and accepting. Please understand that I am going to sort more later but I need to get this first step accomplished.
6. If possible, get a friend to help you clear a “staging area” if necessary. This is a place where you can stack boxes and put large items. Once they are in the staging area, it will be easier to sort them into other categories later.
7. Get cleaning supplies together
Day of work party:
1. Be well rested and ready to let go!
2. Welcome your friends. Show them the guidelines. (You might want to make some copies) See if they have any questions.
3. Get to work. Be somewhere where you can answer questions and perhaps start sorting through bulkier items such as clothes. If you are ready to throw things away or give them–great! If not, that is okay for now. Having an assistant to help you with these things would be great.
4. Have some food for volunteers. Have fun. do things like ring a bell when box is delivered to the staging area.
5. If there is time, have volunteers clean up as they uncover stuff.
6. As people come and go, thank them profusely and be very encouraging. If they get critical because you are not getting rid of stuff, just smile and thank them for helping. Remind him or her that this is the first step.
You might want to schedule a sorting party where you further sort out boxes and have another round of downsizing. But at very least, your home is de-cluttered, you feel less over whelmed, and you have more energy to go forward with more sorting.
If you need help from someone like myself, a professional organizer or even a trusted friend who wants to volunteer or help for a minimal fee–consider it a good investment.