brown moving boxes stacked haphazardly in an poorly lit unfinished basement

How Long Will It Take to Get Organized?

When you hire an organizer after decades of accumulating clutter, it’s reasonable to ask how long it’ll take to sort it all out. You want to put a budget together, you want to set aside enough time to work with your organizer, you want to know that hiring someone will be worth it. You know full well that despite years of trying to deal with the clutter, nothing’s changed so of course you want some assurance that this is going to work. Putting a time frame on it is a way to do that.

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself to help figure out how long getting organized might take:

1. How much clutter do you have?

Not just how many rooms or how many square feet, but how deep is the clutter on the floor? Are there boxes of compactly stacked boxes to go through or is it mostly surface clutter? Are the boxes full of random items or are they sorted into category already?

2. What size is the clutter?

Dealing with a basement full of furniture is a quicker job than sorting through boxes of tiny items. You could clear your whole basement with one visit from the movers but sorting through jewelry, hair ties, postage stamps or business cards is going to have you making many more decisions with far less to show for it.

3. How quickly can you make decisions?

Do you already know what’s important to you and just need someone to keep you accountable and on task? Or are you overwhelmed by the prospect of deciding about anything? Some people need to tell the story of an item before they can decide what to do with it and that takes more time than if they don’t. Can you make generalized decisions? Are you able to decide that all newspapers go or do you need to examine each one and try to remember why you saved it?

4. Can you make and keep to some guidelines when decluttering paper?

Do you need to read each statement and letter carefully and go through expired insurance policies just in case? There’s a reason so many people have so much paper clutter and it’s because each piece of paper is an unmade decision. An action frozen in time, waiting to be taken.

The Christmas cards you meant to write back to, to save the addresses from. The articles you want to read, no matter how long ago you printed them out. The credit card offers that need to be carefully evaluated even though you’re not in the market for a new credit card.

As you practice sorting paper, you’ll get faster at it, especially if you have someone to keep you on track but initially, the process of sorting paper take a while.

5. How Emotional is your clutter?

It’s usually quicker to sort through more neutral items like bread makers and garlic presses than it is to deal with personal memorabilia.

6. What’s your energy like?

Will you be able to work weekly with your organizer? Will you be able to keep working on your own in between sessions?

How long will it take to get organized?

A better question to ask is, how much longer do I want to put up with this clutter? If you’ve lived happily with it for decades and there’s no particular reason for you to live any differently, I’d suggest you work with an organizer to make sure pathways and exits are cleared and there could never be an issue trying to wheel a stretcher through any of your rooms or corridors. That will take far less time than trying to clear the whole house.

If you’re ready for more, think about how long you’ve lived like this and know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. But it was built. The task of decluttering isn’t impossible.

Commit to decluttering for twenty minutes a day. Call an organizer if you want to move faster. It’ll take as long as it takes but the job always goes faster with someone to keep you on track, to motivate you through the tough times and cheer you on as you get it done.

If you’re in the Boulder County or Longmont area, contact me to find out how I can help.


  1. I love how you identified all of the top factors that go into knowing “how long” it will take to declutter. While they are all important, I find that two of the biggest factors are readiness for change and ability to quickly make decisions. When those two elements are present, things more along faster. When either of those are compromised, the process is slower. But knowing what the client goals and motivations are, along with their timing and commitment level can help to keep things moving forward at a pace that is well suited to the client.

  2. I get this question all the time, and your questions are the answer. Each person and situation is unique. I also find that people may work a slower pace initially, but find that the process becomes easier and quicker over time!


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