One of the best memories I have of my college years was on the moving days, when people would move in and out of the dormitories. I always liked to be one of the first students to arrive and one of the last ones to leave, because I found it incredibly fun to help people move in and out of the dorms.
I found this particularly useful on my very first semester in college. I did it based on a suggestion from a friend, who said that the best way to build friends in the dorm is to go right up and introduce yourself and help them with something useful. So, for my first two or three days in the dorms, I spent most of the day helping people move in. I milled around in the hall and when new students would arrive, I’d introduce myself and ask if they needed help packing boxes.
That simple tactic helped me to meet a lot of the people in my dorm very quickly. I became the guy everyone knew and, for the first few days, there were tons of people stopping by my room inviting me to eat with them, go out and do something with them, and so on.
The lesson here is simple: when you help people out with a major task, they tend to be grateful and bond with you. It also usually ends up being a lot of fun, and you’ll get a lot of help with any big project you want to tackle in the future.
I’ve held that experience close to me over the years. Whenever I’ve moved, I’ve invited friends and family to help. Whenever I’ve had a major home repair, I’ve invited friends and family to help. We’ll spend a big chunk of the day on the project, I’ll sever beverages throughout, and we’ll have a nice meal together at the end.
In many cases, when friends and family have had major projects, they’ve invited me to help in some capacity.
Each time, a major project that would have taken us many days was completed in an afternoon. Each time, I had a lot of fun with friends and family. Each time, I went to bed feeling I’d spent the day really well.
This type of thing is great in almost every dimension.
It saves time. You can turn a very large multi-day project into something that can be achieved in an afternoon. Got something that seems almost impossible to achieve? Try turning it into a work party.
It saves money. Most of the time, when you tackle a big project like this on your own, you’ll end up being forced to buy equipment. If you invite friends, they’ll almost always bring equipment along if they have it.
It’s a great social event. You have lots of friends and family with you. What’s not to love about that?
Of course, part of the equation here is that you help others with their big projects. Of course, when you do that, you’ll usually get an afternoon with friends, a meal or two, and a lot of fun for almost no cost to you, which is a great thing itself. Plus, you’ll often gain some real appreciation from your friends because you stepped up to the plate.
Whenever there’s a big project in front of you, organize a work party. You’ll be glad you did.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.