One of the most common things I hear from clients is frustration at the fact that regardless of how simple or complex their organizing projects might be, they often find it utterly challenging to undertake those projects on their own. "I should be able to do this myself!" they say. "What's wrong with me?"
My reply is always the same: Not a thing! For a variety of reasons, organizing work can be difficult to tackle alone, and trying to do it solo tends to result in inefficiency, frustration, and overwhelm. The good news is that enlisting someone to work with you, even if only for a few hours, can provide a much-needed boost. Here's why organizing is easier with a buddy, along with some tips on finding the right person to work with you.
The More, the Merrier
Here's the truth: organizing work can be boring, overwhelming, tiresome, emotionally challenging, annoying, and sometimes just plain unappealing. If you've ever tried to undertake an organizing project on your own and really struggled with it, that doesn't mean you're unintelligent, lazy, or unskilled; it means that you needed some motivation, guidance, info, or input that you didn't have.
By enlisting someone to lend a hand with organizing, you gain another perspective, a motivator, a coach, a different set of skills and strengths, and someone to bounce ideas off of--if not all of the above. There's no shame in seeking help when you're facing a project you can't or don't want to handle all on your own.
Finding a Partner
When you're ready to call in help, it's worth seeking out an organizing partner who'll be a positive and supportive collaborator. Here are 3 things to look for in a buddy:
- Caring support: The last thing most of us need is an organizing partner who'll belittle us, our things, our goals, or the way we go about approaching a project. Look for someone who can offer tough love if that's what you need, but who'll be positive and supportive, not harsh or critical.
- Balanced skills: If you find organizing challenging because it's boring, seek out a partner who can help bring some fun to the process. If your project seems overwhelming, look for someone with a knack for breaking big undertakings down into reasonable chunks.
- Patience, patience, patience: Organizing can be a long, slow process. Your ideal collaborator is someone with the patience to help keep you on track without trying to rush the process along.
Another option, of course, is to hire a Professional Organizer. I often spend a few hours with clients simply giving them a boost, sharing ideas and motivation as they chip away at a project that has them stymied, or serving as a personal trainer of organizing and making the process a bit more fun and engaging. If you do opt to go with a pro, find one who's a good match for you (the 3 criteria above apply equally to POs) and who's willing and able to provide the kind of support and guidance you're looking for.
Making the Best Use of Your Buddy
Once you've found a collaborator, decide how you want to work together. Very often, simply having a partner around for an hour or two as you get your organizing project underway is as much of a boost as you'll need; once you're over the hurdle of getting started, there's a good chance you'll be able to take on much of the rest of the project yourself.
Alternatively, you might want someone who can be a regular source of support, spending an hour with you once a week as you tackle a particularly dreaded task (filing, processing mail, folding and putting away clothes, and so on) or checking in once a month to see how you're progressing on a long-term project.
If you've been stalled on an organizing project, consider this a request to stop trying to push yourself through it alone and encouragement to seek out a partner who can help you move forward with it. I can almost guarantee you'll be less stressed and more efficient, and that what has seemed like a big challenge will become much more doable.