Patricia’s Semi-Simple Sorting System

This sorting system is designed to make it easy on both the team members and the client in the following ways:

  • Anyone who is helping the client can sort things in a way that prevents stress for the client because only clearly designated items are thrown away.
  • Helper(s) can feel satisfied that there is movement because items are sorted in categories which the client can then more easily make decisions about.
  • Since the client has already clearly identified things that are not to be sorted, helpers can feel confident that nothing is being packed away that client might need.
First items are sorted into large categories. Then those items into categories. And if necessary and if there is time,   those items are then sorted into categories. The more specific the categories are, the easier it will be for client to make decisions.
Broad categories are:
  • Flat (papers, office supplies, books, magazines, pictures etc)
  • Soft (clothes, towels, bedding, stuffed animals etc)
  • Small (not flat) This includes office supplies, safety pins, small toys, anything less than 5 or 6inches in diameter)
  • Medium (not flat) including toilet article,  toys, office supplies, electronics–bigger than 6 inches, less than a foot),
  • Fragile (not boxed until wrapped in packing material. place in a shallow box to deal with later)
  • Large (not boxed–placed on a table or surface in the room)
  • High priority (anything of any shape or size that looks like the client should look at including checks, important documents, bills that are overdue, jewelry)
How it works:
  • Categories will be listed on poster board so helpers can easily be reminded.
  • Boxes will be provided for each broad category
  • Runner will come and get full boxes to go into the staging area for sorting into smaller categories. Runner will replace the box with another one.
Why I do it this way:
This makes the entire decluttering go very fast because it minimizes the amount of decisions that are made
Going from a broad category to smaller ones decreases the amount of boxes that are in a room. If you try to categorize too many things it is both overwhelming and takes up a lot of space.
Someone will bring the boxes from all the rooms into the staging area where there will be signs that say the following;
  • Flat
  • Medium
  • Soft
  • Small

If there are enough people helping, people can start immediately sorting the above categories into narrower categories which are:

  •  papers to sort (including magazines and catalogues)
  • books
  • office supplies
  • memories
  • toys
  • crafts
  • bathroom
  • kitchen
  • clothes
  • bedding
  • electronics
  • misc. (doesn’t fit in any of the above categories)
  • hardware, tools

Once these categories are sorted, they can be sorted into sub categories which I will be writing about in more detail later. The one category that will probably be very large is papers, and I advise sorting these boxes out next. You can ask the client what papers they are willing to let you recycle or shred.

Papers to sort
  • low priority papers–probably throw away (or client might give permission to recycle like junk mail, newspapers, etc.
  • Shred (credit card offers and other things with confidential info)
  • magazines
  • catalogues
  • bills/financial/medical
  • art work
  • memories: cards, personal notes

If the client is really passionate about something–like crafts–then if possible, get the crafts sorted into obvious categories so that they can be utilized easily.

Obviously, you will need lots and lots of boxes of various sizes and shapes.


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