HIDDEN POWER OF MOVING
I often find myself helping others either with preparing for a move, or with unpacking and organizing once they have moved into their new home. But in late February, I moved myself, and was surprised at how much I learned since this time it was my own stuff that I was dealing with.
We See What We Are and Aren’t Really Using
Our move has made me think of Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists. When Ryan first made the decision to downsize and join his friend Josh in the quest to live life significantly lighter and more simply, he packed every single thing he owned into boxes as if he were getting ready to move. Then, he only unpacked belongings as he needed them. After 6 weeks, he got rid of everything that was still in boxes. When we move, we are essentially forced to do the same thing. Packing everything we own into boxes has the power to help us see what we are and aren’t really using. In Ryan’s case, he had so much stuff that he realized he only really used about 20 percent of what he had.
In my own move, what shocked me the most is that our family does fairly good job of regularly donating and getting rid of things, but we still discovered that we have a lot of unused stuff. I unpacked our essentials, giving priority to the kitchen, bedroom closets and bathrooms like usual, then within the first week, I eventually removed everything else that we use from their boxes and assigned homes to it all. Once that was done I was relieved to be able to get back to our busy life. But I have to admit that like so many other families, after a month in a half, I still don’t have all of my boxes unpacked. We still have a bunch of boxes sitting in our storage room that have been all too easy to ignore.
Those Leftover Boxes are Full of Hard Decisions
Why haven’t I tackled those boxes? Because we haven’t missed what’s in them one bit. I can’t help but see the irony here, this is the same exact stuff that my clients desperately call me to help them with. But in their case these same kinds of boxes have sometimes been sitting in their storage areas for years after they have moved. They often can’t even remember what’s in them. The stuff they haven’t used hogs all the storage or garage space in their homes. There is more than one reason that we avoid these boxes; for one, in addition to not missing what's in them, other tasks on our to-do lists take priority, or maybe there’s no place to store what’s in the boxes because closets and cabinets are already full. But the biggest reason those boxes don’t go away is this; they hold all that stuff that is so hard to deal with. The boxes often represent indecision. Every single item requires a decision to be made. Are we are ready to let it go? Or out of guilt, do we think we need to keep it? What if we might need it someday? And finally, if we are ready to let it go of it, how do we get rid of it? Should it be donated, discarded or sold?
It Does Not Pay To Put Those Hard Decisions Off
It’s tempting to move onto everything else on our busy to-do lists and put these hard decisions on the back burner. But I know all too well that that’s not a good idea. Just because we are not missing whatever is in those boxes, doesn’t mean they deserve to take up space in our homes for years and weigh heavy on our minds. If you have a couple of boxes like these in your home, they may not bother you much, but if you have a whole room filled with them, I suggest you don’t put off dealing with them any longer. And if you are paying for a storage unit, or unable to use your garage for parking your car, the indecision is costing you money or robbing you of convenience. Decide once and for all to do the hard work of making these decisions and get yourself past them. Because it doesn’t pay to put it off, they will just steal your space and peace of mind.
Let Go of Everything That Has Been Singled Out as Unused
If you are in the process of a move, commit to unpacking every box now rather than later. Take a critical eye to what you allow to stay and be selective. If you have more stuff than you have storage space for, consider letting go of the things that you really don’t use. If in the rare chance you end up needing something that you got rid of down the road, it can usually be easily replaced. Keep in mind that you likely won’t miss 99% of what you let go of. If you decide to keep something, get it out of that box and use or display it. In the end, it will feel so good to get the job done.
Our move has forced us to take a closer look at what we really have, and separate what we use from what we don’t. But, at this point we have to follow through and let go of everything that has been singled out as unused. This weekend I have forced myself to get into my storage room and get through those boxes. Now I have a large pile items ready to be donated. My storage room is finally clean, but it was challenging even for me, because I was the one making the tough decisions about our own stuff this time. I have listed the steps that I took to get though my storage room boxes. Feel free to use these steps as a guide to get you through your own storage space..
5 Easy Steps For Getting Through Your Own Boxes:
Moving to a new home is a time of new beginnings and inspiration. Chances are you have already started thinking about fresh paint colors and furniture arrangement. Taking the time to plan ahead is the key to ensure a smooth move.
Reduce: Why pay someone to move stuff that you no longer use? You also don’t want these things cluttering up your new home. Several weeks before your move, take the time to go through and weed out anything that no longer serves your needs. Be sure to hit hot spots like your basement and storage areas where unused items often end up. If you have boxes that you haven’t opened since your last move, consider whether or not you really need the stuff inside them. If you are overwhelmed with where to start, or if you are downsizing to a much smaller home, consider getting help from a friend or a professional organizer. Once you have set aside several boxes or bags of items to be donated, contact a local charity such as the Salvation Army and have them come and pick everything up. These services are often provided free of charge.
Create a Moving Binder: To ensure that important paperwork is not lost during your move, create a binder for everything related to your move. Keep all estimates, receipts, room measurements, checklists etc. in this binder. Be sure to keep this binder handy at all times…don’t accidentally pack it away in a box!
Space Plan: Be sure to take measurements of the rooms and wall spaces in your new home to ensure that your furniture will fit there. You don’t want to waste time and money moving a sofa just to discover that it doesn’t fit in your new living room. Once you decide how furniture is going to be arranged, tape a sign to the nearest wall, to alert movers as to where to place heavy furniture. ie: PLACE BED HERE. This will speed up the process of your move.
Begin Packing: If you are planning on doing your own packing, begin with those items that you use infrequently. Be sure to label every box with the contents and clearly indicate what room the box is going into, not what room it came from. Clearly labeled furniture and boxes will prevent movers from wasting time on moving day, waiting for you to tell them which room to put a box in.
Pack a Suitcase: A few days before your move, have every family member pack a suitcase as if they were going on vacation for a week. This will ensure that everyone will have everything they need the first few days after your move. Keep in mind that whatever goes on the moving truck first, will come off last, so be sure to pack other essentials like bedding, towels and kitchen essentials last. Also, if you have very fragile or valuable items, put them in your car and move them yourself, don’t chance them disappearing or getting damaged by putting them on the moving truck.
Movers: If you are going to hire movers, schedule an on-site visit and get several estimates, don’t rely on a phone estimate. Research the company thoroughly before you hand all of your belongings over to them. On moving day, be sure that all of your heavy furniture is arranged exactly where you want it to go, and that all beds have been assembled before you let the movers leave. You don’t want to get stuck handling these heavy items yourself.
Unpacking: If you want things to be organized in your new home, don’t have movers unpack boxes. Leave this job for yourself or for a family member. Take advantage of your move as an opportune time to get organized. Consider hiring a professional organizer to unpack your kitchen or other important spaces to ensure that everything is stored and organized in the most functional and practical locations possible. Once everything is unpacked, you can sell your empty boxes on Craig’s List or through a local buy-sell-trade site.
While the moving process can evoke anxiety in even the most composed individuals, a bit of preplanning can ensure that your move goes smoothly and with the least amount of stress.
Written by Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing
and Relocation Services
What are the first steps a homeowner should take before putting their home on the market?
The first steps to prepare your home for the market are mostly the same things you should be doing to prepare to move. So it’s a great opportunity to hit two birds with one stone!
The main issue we see with our home organizing clients is simply too much – too much furniture, too much decoration, too much stuff. Homeowners accumulate items over the years and become immune to the first impression others get from their home.
Buyers put a LOT of weight on first impressions, and homes look larger when they have less furniture in them. This is why model homes are very sparsely decorated, with just a few select pieces of furniture.
So I recommend homeowners go through the home and look for things to donate or get rid of. There are even organizations that will come and pick up your donation free of charge like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul.
If there are items that you’d like to pack in advance, make sure to write a general description the contents on the outside of the box, and store them out of the way in the garage or basement, where they won’t affect a buyer’s first impression.
What about putting items in storage while the home is on the market, and then moving those items into the new home?
I try to direct homeowners away from storage units as much as I can. Most likely that storage unit will never get 100% cleared out, and you’ll pay for it month-after-month to store things you don’t use.
Plus items like photographs and keepsakes don’t do well in non-climate-controlled units, so there’s always a chance your items will be damaged in storage.
I recommend going through your home and letting go of anything you’re not currently using. If you absolutely must use a storage unit, here are a few tips:
Keep everything off the floor.
Make sure you leave aisles, and label your bins so that everything is accessible.
For safety purposes and to avoid lower bins from being crushed, don’t stack storage bins too high.
Put everything in plastic containers to protect from critters and from water damage
Many homeowners use professional movers, any tips for working with a moving company?
Yes! We help a lot of homeowners prepare for that type of move, and we have some great tips.
First, remember movers are flexible; you can hire them for certain parts of the job, or let them handle everything. I do recommend if you handle anything yourself, it’s the UN-packing. Movers are not organizers, you will spend less time looking for things if you unpack yourself or better yet, leave that job to a professional organizer.
A quick counter-intuitive tip: Professional movers are experienced in packing and moving fragile items, so if there’s one thing you leave to the pros that would be it.
If you have very valuable items such as high end art work, we suggest you move these items yourself or hire a company that specializes in packing and moving these types of items.
Beyond that, keep your movers (or helpers) happy, provide donuts in the morning or sandwiches for lunch, drinks in the afternoon, tip them well if they did a good job etc.
Lastly, if you do your own packing, make sure each box is clearly labeled with the box’s contents, and the room it’s going INTO, not the room it came FROM. You can also put up signs on each room to match the labels on the boxes, so that everyone knows exactly which room each box goes into.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever you pack first, will be the last to come off the moving truck. So do not pack items that you will need right away until the last minute.
Where can people learn more about home organizing and preparing to move?
We have some great tips for handling pets on moving day, which items to pack last, and so forth. You can visit us at www.cleanclutterfree.com or call us at 402-443-9673 and we’d be happy to answer any questions!
Thanks to the good folks at WestOmahaHomeGuide.com for interviewing us!
If you’re looking to buy a home, we highly recommend their site.
It features all sorts of useful information about West Omaha homes for sale, neighborhoods, events and local businesses like ours.
Click here to search all homes for sale in West Omaha.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.