Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Since most Professional Organizers charge by the hour it's good to have an idea of how much time your project may take. Budget drives most organizing projects, and you will need to plan for both labor and materials. I have come up with a quick way to estimate labor time based on a visual overlay of the area. It's only a rough guide, but it works pretty well - especially if you are good visually.
The 4-2-8 Rule
An area approximately 4' wide by 2' deep by 8' high translates into roughly two hours of organizing. This closet is a good equivalent so you can visualize the dimensions of your 4x2x8 box.
This formula is based on several assumptions:
1. The contents of the space is full AND is general clutter - a mix of clothes, personal items, books, toys, etc. More detailed categories like paperwork, memorabilia, tools & hardware, etc. will take longer.
2. The client and organizer work at an average speed. There are times that you may need to go slower. Give yourself permission! Big organizing projects are marathons, not sprints.
3. The contents will be completely removed from the space, sorted and culled. This is typically the longest portion of the timeline and the most intense.
4. All contents that are left after culling are put back in an organized fashion with new structure or product if needed.
5. This does not include any time you or the organizer will spend designing, shopping for product, or assembling/installing structure like freestanding or wall mounted shelving.
This girl's closet took about 4.5 hours. You can visualize two 4x2x8 boxes side by side inside the closet.
If you want to calculate a room with clutter more than 2' away from the wall just use your 4x2x8 box like a template to visually cover what you see. You can use it upright (yellow) or lay it on its side (orange).
For example, the wall of this garage looks like it would be approximately four 4x2x8 boxes (8 hours) plus another two 4x2x8 boxes on their side for the items in front (4 hours) for a total of twelve hours. To clarify, this guide creates an approximate average of total number of hours the project will take, not how long it would take to look at the contents of each 4x2x8 box.
In this case, the file cabinet on the wall is deep and each drawer is full of paperwork. Plus, most of the eight white boxes are also full of paperwork. Typically, a long file drawer takes about 1 to 1.5 hours per drawer if you look at each piece of paper. In this example that will add about twelve additional hours of labor. If the client did the paperwork on their own between organizing sessions it would greatly reduce the labor expense. However, paperwork is often the thing that people need the most help with. Working with your organizer to come up with a plan of action will help you feel like you're making progress, but not getting overwhelmed.
I'm going to be redundant and say again that this is a very rough guide. Obviously, some things will go faster than others, but it's a good starting place.
For a more in depth look at the 4-2-8 Rule check out this video - https://youtu.be/Eg5IDazVe5E.
If you found this article helpful or have further questions, please leave a comment! Thank you!