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Destressing Your Move: Phase 2 – Start Packing

packing boxes Nina Garman from Pixabay

The first phase of moving was “planning ahead.” Now – at least 4 weeks from move day – it’s time to get into action. Packing and letting people (and companies) know your plans constitutes the bulk of this phase.

Picture this – the moving truck is pulling away from your new home. You’re worn out from the weeks leading up to the move.  You open up a random box and are faced with all kinds of mixed-up items that now have to be sorted and then figure out where they live. That takes lots of energy and time you probably won’t have – Ugh! Now multiply that feeling by the tens of boxes you have in every room! Yikes!

Make a Packing Timeline – Spend the time and energy before the move taking care to weed your possessions and decide where things will eventually live. That way, you can pack and label the boxes accordingly. 

There’s an analogy that a move is like a ball rolling downhill – the closer you get to move day the faster time will be flying by. And before you know it, you’re just throwing things into boxes (if you’re lucky) in order to be ready in time. Plan out a schedule for completing the major packing in each room and allow for a full extra week to catch up on all the things you didn’t plan for.

Get Supplies – If you do any of the packing yourself, you’ll have to gather supplies.  Since the boxes are bulky and can take over your house, dedicate space to store them so they won’t get in the way.

  • Places such as Home Depot and U-Haul offer online box ordering with easy “kits” for different size moves that you can customize.
  • Buy rolls or boxes of packing paper; don’t rely on finding enough newspaper for padding delicate items. Large bubble wrap is often more useful than the small bubble wrap for medium to large items. And don’t buy cheap packing tape – it isn’t worth the hassle when it constantly breaks on your tape gun.
  • Have a dedicated small box or basket and fixed location where you always keep your critical packing supplies: markers, post-its, packing tape, tape gun, utility knife.

Begin with the End in Mind

  • Whether you’ve decided to pack yourself or hire packing help, it’s essential to segregate items you’re taking with you into “like” groups to make packing and unpacking.  This is why it is helpful to start with an organized home. If you have pared down what you own so that you only have items you need to bring with you, there’s minimal decision-making come packing time.
  • Make sure you label your boxes with the destination in your new home, i.e., master bedroom, downstairs bath, laundry area, for example. Consider labeling some boxes “UNPACK FIRST” for each room.
  • It can help to have an inventory sheet with the box number and contents if the unpacking will happen over time or if your boxes will be sitting in storage for a time.
  • Pace Yourself – Packing can be exhausting! Take breaks, plan your meals, be realistic about how long you can work each day. Ask for help if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

moving day kit

Let People (and Companies) Know

  • Contact your utility companies on both ends of the move and make arrangements to transfer or cancel your service on the date you hand over possession of your home
  • In addition to the utility companies, make a check-list of the people/companies who send you mail: Banks, Insurance Companies, Medical Providers. Don’t forget to include:
  • Consider sending out “We’re Moving” cards with your new address to your friends and family.
  • Ask the new homeowners to forward any mail that slips through the USPS system and comes to your old address.

The Goal Is This…

You walk into your new home, energized and ready to get to work … every room has clearly labeled boxes of the items that belong in that room, the labels let you know which boxes you want to unpack first. When you open a box, you can efficiently put things away because you know where they’re going. Bonus if you have helpers it’s easy to direct them because the boxes are all well packed, labeled, and organized!  Next post – Moving Day.

Moving Day Comfort Item

Make sure you don’t leave any special things behind!

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Filed under Decluttering, downsizing, home organizing, Moving, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Lose the Psychic Weight of Clutter

psychic weight (1)

Do you have a room in home that when you walk into it you just say, “Ughh!”?

These are spaces that are enough out of sight and out of mind that they are the perfect spots to accumulate years of random items. Attics, basements, garages, guest room closets, dining buffet bottom drawers … every home has them!

So why bother? For the most part they don’t affect daily life – the few times a year you have to retrieve something from them is a hassle but rarely hassle enough to raise the daunting task of cleaning out the space to the top of your to-do list.

These spaces may seem benign…not a problem, no worry…but they actually do have quite a presence. Spaces that trigger guilt, shame, inertia, and paralysis contain psychic weight. We know this from the decades of working with clients. Our clients almost universally describe the feeling of clearing out old clutter as having had a huge weight lifted from their backs. They had become used to living with the problem and hadn’t realized just how much of a mental burden putting off dealing with the clutter was. Feeling the relief of the cleared, organized spaces made it crystal clear what a weight they had been carrying in the background of their consciousness.

Observe and measure how you feel in each room of your home. The spaces can be as simple as a drawer, a cabinet or an entire room. Identify where you are being drained:

  • Where do you find yourself sighing?
  • Is there an area of your home that you completely avoid?
  • What space triggers a sense of feeling trapped?
  • When you want to use a space that’s cluttered, is it a complete hassle to reclaim it?
  • Would you be embarrassed for someone else to see the space?
  • Does the thought of dealing with it make you want to take a nap … or go on a trip?

Take stock of how much mental weight you are carrying around. Where is your extra weight hiding?  Wouldn’t it feel great to be relieved of the heavy feelings of those spaces?

If you’re inspired to get started, choose a small project or part of a room that you can get through in about an hour. Getting to experience that wonderful sense of relief that comes from making progress will fuel your motivation to go further. If you get stuck, reach out!

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Filed under Decluttering, downsizing, Garage, General Organizing, home organizing, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Seniors, Strategies

Perspectives on Letting Go

freedom release letting go

Ahh, attachments to our stuff. It’s really all a mental game. If we were truly able to assess our belongings according to our practical needs, we would probably be living with 10% of what we own.

Why is letting go so hard? How do we manage the psychology of releasing things?

Over the years, we’ve seen people find success with one (or a combination) of these three approaches:

Focus on how you can help yourself

Honor the life you want to live. Have a vision of how you want to be in the world and edit your stuff so you can match that and live your best life now. This is about releasing the past and creating your ideal future. You’re honoring yourself by letting that be your focus.

Focus on how you can help other people

Recognize that your excess is a form of abundance. Release your objects so they can serve their purpose in other people’s lives. Release resentment or other negative emotions that the objects bring up in you and put them out into the world to do positive things for other people.

Feng Shui expert Karen Kingston tells a story of a divorced woman had a pair of large, expensive decorative urns from her divorce settlement. They were beautiful but made her think, with bitterness, of her ex-husband.  She was encouraged to sell them and get a lot of money for them instead of having them foster bitterness and resentment and a constant reminder of a painful relationship.

Focus on how you can help the environment

Bringing in less can aid the environment, but disposing of things in a thoughtful way will help offset the environmental impact of consumption. Some people hesitate to clean out a closet or garage because they don’t want it all to go to landfill. Take advantage of living in the San Francisco Bay Area which is filled with easy options for recycling/reuse and responsible disposal.

Stopwaste.org is a quick way to find what is available near you. There are many places that accept e-waste, expired medicines, CFLs, hazardous waste, styrofoam, packing peanuts and air-packs. Partially used art and office supplies can go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse or S.C.R.A.P., building materials and hardware can go to Urban Ore or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlet. Plastic children’s toys, if not donate-able, can be recycled with hard plastic at most urban recycling centers. There are also resources for your unneeded medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, tubing, etc.)

Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and other community neighborhood forums are great places to post usable items for free.  These places allow you to find people who want your cast-offs and will take care of the hauling!

If you don’t want to deal with the public, you can pay for a hauler to come. EcoHaul, 1-800-Got Junk, Lugg are companies that advertise responsible disposal of items the remove from your place.

There is no “right” approach. What is that key that will release you from the obligation to hold on to things you don’t need and really don’t even want? Not sure how to get rid of something? Just ask! As Professional Organizers, we’ve got ideas!

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Make Family Decluttering Easy

Does your family have too much stuff?

Does your family have too much stuff?

 

One of the main causes of clutter is over-accumulation. It’s hard to make organized systems if you’re overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things. A great place to start is by moving useful things that you don’t need or want back out into the world to be used and enjoyed by others.

Do Your Homework

Get familiar with the thrift stores, charitable organizations, and recycling resources in your area. Donation Town is a great online national directory of charities you can search by zip code. Don’t forget about Freecycle or Craigslist as options for listing free items.

Make It Easy

It’s much easier to let go of something if a donation bag is handy. Either have one central, dedicated location for a bag or set up donation bags in multiple rooms – each bedroom, garage, and laundry room. Brown paper grocery bags are easy and work well because they can be moved right into a car. Don’t forget to label the bag so everyone knows what it is for!

 

Label a box, bin or bag to contain unneeded items

Label a box, bin or bag to contain unneeded items

Follow Through!

Having your bags ready and knowing where to take them won’t do you any good if they are always empty. Try and get things into the donation bags as soon as you know you don’t want them. Try on a shirt and it doesn’t fit or you don’t like how you look in it? Into the donation bag! Notice a toy or game the kids never use anymore? Into the donation bag!

If you’re getting resistance from your family around letting things go, offer incentives or make a game of it to inspire them. Check out our post on how to make organizing fun.

Calendar or schedule donation pickup/drop-offs at least quarterly. Don’t forget to collect receipts and claim your charitable tax deduction.

Enjoy The Results

Now you’re well on your way to being able to organize what’s left. It’s much easier to set up homes and systems for active items without having old, inactive items cluttering up the process.

Just get started! Take a bag and walk around your house…could you fill at least 1 bag today?

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Green De-Cluttering

There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!

There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!

Do you want to declutter, but dread adding to the waste stream?  It’s easy to be green when you are organizing.  Organizing is all about recycling and reuse.

You’re working on an organizing project and you’re accumulating a pile of items that you no longer want or need.  In can be discouraging to end up with a pile of things that aren’t easy to dispose of…that pile tends to sit around until you “figure out” what to do with them.

The short-term solution for some people is just to put everything you don’t want in the trash.  We must admit, sometimes that option is very enticing.  But with heightened consciousness about the waste stream, just dumping stuff you don’t want can be irresponsible.

Here are types of things you may find in your discard pile and ideas of how to get rid of them responsibly:

  • Sensitive information to shred (paper or discs) – do you have a local shredding company where you can bring this to shred?  Mobile shredding services are available to come to you in some areas. Office supply stores sometimes offer this service.
  • Scrap metal – broken garden tools, miscellaneous metal parts. Most recycling centers have bins for these items.
  • Clothing and fabric scraps – most charities take usable clothing, but clothes that are stained, torn or unusable can still be recycled.  Goodwill Industries takes worn out clothes, sheets and fabric scraps and repurposes them.
  • Plastic stuff – broken toys, buckets or pieces of household equipment don’t need to be put in the landfill.  Many recycling centers take different kinds or plastic for proper disposal or repurposing.
  • Paint, chemicals – these hazardous wastes need special care.  Most counties have facilities for disposing of them.
  • Building materials – many larger cities have re-use stores run by Habitat for Humanity or similar organizations.
  • Food – unopened, unexpired food can be taken to a local food bank.
  • Liquor – word has it that the Lyons or Elks clubs accept unopened liquor bottles and use it for raffle prizes. Check for a lodge in your area.
  • Styrofoam – another item that makes me cringe when I think of putting it in the landfill. Styrofoam is another item that some recycling centers accept.  Making it less onerous to dispose of oversized electronic packaging.
  • Packing peanuts – UPS and other shipping stores will take these
  • Oversize trash  – Junk haulers will pick up for a fee. There are national franchises and local operators; use Yelp to find a good one.
  • E-waste – most cities have electronics recycling centers. Be on the lookout for special e-waste recycling events put on by local organizations.
  • Stuff to sell or donate.  Here is a list of options for getting money (or not) for the things you don’t want.
    • Donate to CharityDonationTown.org will identify charities that will pick up in your neighborhood
    • ebay Trading Assistants – have a special relationship with eBay and can handle many different kinds of items to resell for you.  Generally they take 30 to 50% of the selling price of your item for their service
    • Estate Liquidators
    • Online Community Forums – your neighborhood group, Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org
    • Auction houses
    • Host a Garage Sale – do it on your own or enlist your neighbors to join in

If all this sounds too complicated, that’s where a Professional Organizer can help you out.  Their job is to find ways to re-purpose, recycle or dispose of the many things that clients are done with. Professional Organizers often interface with all the above to help you expedite removal of unwanted stuff. Working with an organizer can help you feel good about your organizing and de-cluttering project from start to finish!

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Filed under General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies