Updated: Feb 21
Many Hands Can Make Light Work - With Planning
Today I welcome Susan Gardner as a contributing author on a series of articles about moving. Whether you're moving cross-country to "be closer to the grandkids," finally going to your dream home, or finally going to a retirement community, you have to move. As our author would say, you get to "pick up every single item and put it somewhere else." Susan's expertise in this area is hard won. Enjoy this series.
Jobs are sometimes better suited for a team. Usually I work with the client alone, but increasingly I find the benefit of multiple hands. Garage organizing, for instance, is a prime example of work that is enough for three or more people to keep busy and productive.
Garages need to be addressed at least once a year, as things tend to collect in the large open space, beginning with a box for recycling that doesn’t get taken out and ending up with an assortment of delayed decisions from other places. We put one thing to the side, and then another, planning to address them at a future date. When the date for dealing with them (also known as Clean the Garage Day) finally arrives, help makes all the difference!
I encourage you to set a date and organize your garage. I’d love for you to include me, as I love decluttering and organizing garage spaces. And for storing and using things I have a few favorite tricks that do not cost a lot of money. But garage cleanup is also something you can do with family or with a friend. (You help your friends one weekend, and they help you the next!)
Surprisingly, you have different kinds of friends available, and each type offers specific pros and cons. Availability and willingness are not always the best criteria for choosing someone with whom to work in a space. Consider these types and their particular value to you:
The Gung-ho Helper
The one who reminds you to “get rid of this stuff and make some space!”
· Leaves you no time to “over-think” decisions.
· Sets a fast pace, so the job gets done faster.
· You feel pressured.
· You experience regret later.
The Creative Helper
The one who encourages you to look ahead at other possibilities for using things.
· Brings an outsider’s fresh perspective.
· Offers ideas for creative reuse (“upcycling”).
· You get sidetracked from your goal as saving things for other uses gets in the way of reaching and disposing of other things.
· You experience overload with all the new possibilities added to and challenging your thinking during the job at hand.
The one who holds back and follows your initiative.
· Allows you to stay in control of decisions and pace.
· Provides extra hands to make things happen.
· You are the one to have to give direction—again and again.
· You lose the benefits of the other’s initiative and of fresh ideas from another perspective.
The one who provides physical strength—or the right equipment—to deal with big or bulky items.
· Tackles the big stuff.
· Gets it moved!
· You will need to keep an eye out for your enthusiastic assistant’s safety!
When you work with a team, keep in mind these things to have the day run smoothly:
1. Have a positive mind set. Work through any ambivalence you have toward the work. Be on the same page with others in the house about the work you propose to do. Know what you will and will not discard, but be open to changing your mind.
2. Have a few tools that make the job flow. A good ladder, for instance, makes all the difference in reaching things easily and storing rarely used items up high. Furniture slides are also helpful, even to move a partially loaded shelf to another wall if you change your mind about placement. If you are moving bulky or big-ticket items, have the necessary dolly and truck. Renting equipment has saved more than a few relationships with the few friends with trucks.
3. Have a general plan that will keep people busy. Some work needs your direct attention, but other work can be done with a few simple instructions and time. Consider the types of workers you have, and match their contributions to the tasks. Let them help you out of their strengths.
4. Be sure to take water breaks to refresh and regroup. A glass of lemonade or cup of coffee and a brownie are also a nice touch! Allow around six hours to make a big difference in a big space.
Working with another person or two keeps up momentum, allows for collaboration on some decisions, and multiplies exponentially the results. If you need a team, let my assistants and me come to your rescue!
Susan Gardner, CPO-CD®, MDiv, is a professional organizer certified in Chronic Disorganization. Through Clearing the Way Home, she guides people in areas like organizing their homes, downsizing, or shifting expectations of organizing to meet individual challenges. Following a career as a pastor, Susan has organized for the last twelve years. She is a member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.
Published January 27, 2022 for distribution June 21, 2022