Decluttering help need, is taskrabbit a solution? Advice sought
January 1, 2015 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Hello, I have moved from a studio apartment I had to myself to now sharing a three bedroom apartment with two other folks. I am not a hoarder, but I do have a lot of paper clutter. Before I moved (1 year ago) my Dad sat in a chair and helped support me declutter. Unfortunately, he can not come again. I am thinking of enlisting someone’s help from taskrabbit. I have never used this service and do not know how to proceed. I have books on decluttering but I need support. Even someone sitting in a chair as I do it and saying “do you REALLY need that” could help a lot- and I am too embarrassed/ashamed to ask a friend. Can you tell me how this works or what to expect with taskrabbit? thanks!
posted by TRUELOTUS to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I can't help with the taskrabbit angle, but I know someone who does this professionally,with a very kind approach and great results. She probably isn't local to you, but has a lot of experience assisting with decluttering projects through phone or video chat.

Memail me if you'd like her info!
posted by jessicapierce at 1:32 PM on January 1, 2015

Again, this is not a direct answer to the taskrabbit question, and I know you said you already have decluttering books, but The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is very popular right now (e.g.), and will take you like 90 minutes to read (even less if you skip the woo stuff). As you know, "do I really need this?", doesn't work. This book asks you to ask yourself "does this object spark joy?", which is a bigger shift than it might first seem.
posted by caek at 1:56 PM on January 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

There are people who have made a career out of helping others organize and declutter. I would enlist their help - not sure how much some random joe on Task Rabbit will really help.
posted by COD at 2:02 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Where are you? If you're in Atlanta, I'll help. I also do Feng Shui.

There is an organization called the National Association of Professional Organizers. You can probably get someone reputable from them.

Also, You may want to invest in a scanner, and then upload it to the cloud/thumb drive. That way you can scan things, then trash them.

You can do this!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:34 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sent you a MeMail message.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 2:34 PM on January 1, 2015

You can get someone from TaskRabbit and they will probably be fine. What I did was search for organizers in Yelp and then started making calls until someone picked up. Don't overthink it. How it works is just how you imagine it. They just help you think through what's worth keeping and what isn't. For me it wasn't stressful at all but a huge relief. I cannot recommend it enough.

If what you have is mostly paper clutter it might make sense to invest in a document scanner and get rid of all the paper, after you've figured out what to keep.
posted by bleep at 2:39 PM on January 1, 2015

Having an objective person is so helpful! You can probably find someone on TaskRabbit just fine.

You can also look into someone who is part of the National Association of Professional Organizers although they will probably be more expensive than someone on TaskRabbit.
posted by radioamy at 3:22 PM on January 1, 2015

As a Certified Professional Organizer (and a member of NAPO, as Ruthless Bunny mentioned), it might seem self-serving for me to suggest that you talk to a professional organizer, but certainly that's what I'd advise, in general. Professional organizers are trained to help you make the good decisions necessary and in knowing the "rules" to help you have that confidence in the future.

Dealing with paperwork includes knowing how to handle what you have for taking action (paying bills, filing forms), for filing things for easy retrieval, knowing what you can toss vs. what you must shred, having a sense of the most logical way to scan (including knowing what you shouldn't bother to scan, naming conventions for easy retrieval, security issues, etc.)

The problems I see with using a service like Task Rabbit are:

1) A random person is untrained with regard to document retention rules. Someone with a life or lifestyle different from yours might not know the questions to ask you to determine whether, for tax or legal reasons, you may need to keep a document, or for how long you need to keep it. If it's a coupon that expired last month, sure, any random person can help.

2) A random person might push you to let go (or even keep) something based on his or her own life experiences. A person who gets rid of all correspondence might encourage you to toss something that might be important for personal reasons, for proof or documentation of an experience you might (after discussing relevant issues that an untrained person might not realize is relevant) need to keep. And vice versa.

3) Members of NAPO, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, Certified Professional Organizers, the American Association of Daily Money Managers, etc., work according to formalized codes of ethics and generally have errors and omissions insurance policies in support of their work with people and their paperwork.

So, yes, I'd encourage you to work with a professional organizer, but if that's not in your budget or comfort zone, I'd ask you to look at working with someone with strong organizational skills whom you feel you know and trust, both to give you confidence in the work being done and also to know that your financial and other information is secure.

Finally, while I know it's not possible for me to persuade you on the basis of this short note, there is absolutely no reason for you to be embarrassed. Fitness trainers help people sort out their lack of fitness or issues with inexact form, accountants help people sort out their relationship with money management and tax laws, nutritionists, doctors, massage therapists, French tutors…all exist because everyone has some area where they do not excel.

Having paper clutter and not knowing how to deal with it, and therefore procrastinating on dealing with it, and having anxiety related to even the notion of dealing with it, is so common that working in this area is a professional speciality. In fact, it's my professional speciality. This is the kind of thing I do, day in and day out, to help my clients empower themselves. I don't look at my clients with derision any more than a doctor does so with a patient who has the flu.

And finally, finally :-) -- working with someone who can help you create mental (or even written) checklists for understanding why it's OK to get rid of a cash receipt for a fast food meal eaten a week ago, but not a tax-related document, and who can walk you through the process of deciding whether keeping or tossing or shredding a personal note, or a clipping from a magazine, or whatever, is logical for you, will give you skills that you'll use for the rest of your life. So, instead of thinking of it as fixing a problem, maybe think of it as learning a new skill set that, incidentally, will make your life more functional, easier to handle, tidier, and a little bit cooler.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:30 PM on January 1, 2015 [16 favorites]

TRUELOTUS, after writing all that and then thinking about it, I want to offer something. Feel free to MeMail me, and schedule-permitting, we can get on the phone or Skype or whatever for a little while, and I can answer some general questions for you (about the actual papers and/or about working with an organizer) and give you some guidance for ways to make all of this easier and less stressful. I can talk about paper management the way other people can talk about sports or Doctor Who (OK, I can also talk that much about Doctor Who).

No rush, no obligation, but I'm available.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:48 PM on January 1, 2015

I know someone who works as a professional organizer. There are many people who like to hold on to things (myself included) and she has met a lot of really amazing people who have had really amazing lives and their places are a little too chock full of the physical evidence! She describes doing the exact thing you describe - basically being there to support people through their decluttering process. She loves her work and is a caring and funny person - exactly who you'd want to be helping you through the boring bits. ++ to professional organizers.
posted by rdnnyc at 4:04 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! I appreciate the encouragement :) I am very excited about the book mentioned and learning more about professional organizers.
posted by TRUELOTUS at 8:27 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Vacuum Cleaner that Truly Sucks   |   Biting the hand that feeds myself Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.