Host a Declutter Party - Quick Ways to Organize
Organization expert Peter Walsh suggests getting together with friends is just the motivation you need to start organizing your life.
By Meredith Bryan
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the March 2013 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Not quite drowning in clutter but still have a few things you'd like to purge? Or maybe you find decluttering more palatable with refreshments? Walsh suggests grabbing two friends for a "party" that will progress to each person's home—thus offering both motivation and fun. To test his plan, he's enlisted OWN staffers (and friends) Cynthia Brown (left), Danielle Jones (right), and Lorraine DeGraffenreidt. Each has reasons for wanting to pare down: Cynthia is shelling out $148 a month for a storage unit, Danielle has too many clothes that no longer fit, and Lorraine, a recent transplant to Los Angeles from New York, suddenly has no use for her heavy outerwear. But with their busy lives and lengthy to-do lists, getting started has always seemed too difficult—which is why the friends need each other.
Designate a Timekeeper: Walsh explains that they'll spend exactly one hour at each person's apartment—or in Cynthia's case, storage unit—during which all phones must be turned off. (Unless, of course, they're being used to snap a picture of an item that's being donated, like the black cap embroidered with the letters UCB that Lorraine has been keeping as a reminder of her former job at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. "I had this idea in my head that people would see it and think, Cool!" she says. "But I've never worn it.")
Focus, Focus: Each friend designates one or two categories of clutter to concentrate on: for Cynthia, bedding, blankets, and towels; for Danielle, professional clothing; and for Lorraine, winter wear. "In other words, we're not here to clean out anyone's entire garage," Walsh clarifies.
Be Brutal: Walsh makes it clear that friends will encourage friends to get rid of anything they don't love, or own duplicates of, or haven't worn or used in the past six months, or find at the bottom of a pile, back of a drawer, or on the floor of a closet. Also: anything from a previous job, life, or relationship that doesn't suit their current one, and anything that is part of an incomplete set (of linens, for example). But he needn't have worried that they'd go easy on each other: Soon the friends are blurting out exactly what they think—and having a great time in the process.
Bring Fuel: "I don't know about you, but decluttering really makes me thirsty," says Walsh, who helpfully suggests Champagne. All business, Lorraine shows up with homemade brownies instead.