Time and motion. It’s a business practice developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to improve the efficiency of workers so that the owners could reap the greatest profits. It’s a pretty distasteful set of practices to turn human beings into machines, but I have adapted some of the principles for my work in decluttering. Here are a few:
Banish wasted motion. As I sort through a big pile of miscellaneous stuff, my clients tend to want to run and put away a single kitchen or bathroom item that we have unearthed. “Wait,” I cry out. Never put away single items. Wait until all the sorting is done and then take the entire pile of kitchen items to put away, then the bathroom items, the items destined for the kids’ rooms, etc.
Perform the same movement over and over again. If you need to remove the plastic dry cleaner bags from your clothes, hang all of the items in your closet, pull open the dry cleaner bag at the top and draw it down off each item. Go right down the line until you have a pile of plastic at your feet.
Use two hands instead of just one. Your kitchen junk drawer — that place where takeout menus and plastic cutlery go to die — is an excellent place to practice this principle. Dump the contents of the drawer onto a flat surface. Then use both hands to sort out the stuff. Push writing implements together, all papers (no matter whether it’s a receipt or a recipe) into a little pile, all matchbooks together, rubber bands, and so on. This is a principle I call Like with Like. When sorting through a pile of miscellany, put similar things together.
Don’t wait another day to get help! Call the Clutter Queen!