On December 9, 2007, I put up a post entitled “How Uncluttering Applies to Leverage.” I intended to make this the next post, but weather and electricity issues kinda got in the way. Ironically, the articles I wrote regarding the ice storm posts led to an expansion of this blog’s readship.
In my quest to add leverage to my life, it occurred to me that I had to apply those same principles to the uncluttering process. I concluded I had four options:
1. Doing It All Myself.
2. Hiring a Professional Organizer.
3. Enlisting a Friend or Friends to Help Me.
4. Using a Combination of the Three.
Allow me to explain.
Doing It All Myself is the most time consuming and the most challenging. I created this mess. I should be able to get it organized, right? There are books like Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing From the Inside Out and David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I should be able to put my intentions and lofty words into a public action plan. I can start with a single victory: a mopped floor, a cleaned counter, an uncluttered cabinet, and build confidence and momentum.
Downside: The “Freakout Factor.” I am not good at sorting, which is why I’m in the mess I’m in. Furthermore, I found that I freaked out a bit when I cleaned my kitchen floor and counters, then later did some cooking and emptied a cabinet. I looked up, and it was a bunch of clutter all over again! Ergo the freakout. It took me a while (days because of aforementioned ice storm) to calm down and work through it. Also, you know those irrational bonds and hoarding tendencies fellow clutterers have? (I might NEED that again even though I haven’t used it in ten years) DIY* doesn’t always overcome that in self-help mode.
Hiring a Professional Organizer is the most time efficient and most expensive. As a professional person (lawyer), I do not begrudge people who become professional organizers and are excellent at what they do. I could see taking off a week that might otherwise be regarded as “vacation time” and taking the money spent on an excursion and putting it into an organizer. That would be something. Actually, I’m a pretty frugal traveler, and I don’t know how far my travel money would go with a professional organizer (One cabinet?), but I think we all get this in theory (though there would be friends & relatives who either think we’re nuts or sing “Hallelujah.”) Set aside a concentrated amount of time with a professional and just get it done.
Downside: Expense. My income ebbs and flows.
Enlisting a Friend or Friends to Help Me brings two things to mind. One is story of Tom Sawyer getting his friends to whitewash the fence by turning it into an event, and the other is an old episode of Oprah where a circle of friends get together (I think with Julia Morgenstern’s help), and each of them rotated going to each others’ homes as a team and spending a day to help them unclutter.
A couple of years ago, I had a friend help me with the kitchen. She helped me sort and unclutter several drawers and cabinets. It was a lovely gesture and lot of work. It was also a one-time, “Don’t Ask Me to Go Through That Again” project. We were able to accomplish quite a bit. As big a challenge the kitchen is today, the work from two years ago still makes it much more manageable.
I’ve thought of throwing a “Tom Sawyer”-type party, where I might put out a lot food and drink and ask friends to help for an hour or two. I think it would work, but would also require a quantity of chutzpah and would be better suited to do in a season other than winter. I also think, ironically, I have to do more uncluttering before I invite people over to help me unclutter [see i.e. Cleaning Before the Cleaning Person Arrives (I think it’s a Jewish thing)]. Such an event would have to be organized ahead of time.
There’s no way I would ask any one person to help with the entire house (and who would be that insane to say “yes” anyway), but I might ask several people to help with one project.
Downside: Potential guilt at asking friends to help me clean up messes I created, even if I become gratefully available to help them with a project.
Using a Combination of the Three makes sense. Getting a start myself would certainly be a good test, and building on success has great value. Hiring an organizer for a specific, high-value project like a garage, kitchen, or home office would give me the experience of working with a professional. I could add more projects on a piecemeal basis. I could learn techniques and strategies and work through emotional barriers, I could apply to projects I take on personally or with friends.
Downside: Would still take longer than a concentrated efforts with a professional organizer.
All in all, I think the flexible fourth option is best; however, this mental exercise does not have value without action.
Louis (Lazar) Green
*Do It Yourself
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