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.
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.
Make sure you don’t leave any special things behind!
It’s been said that moving is one of the top 5 most stressful life events –
- Death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Job loss
And often moving must happen because of one or more of these life events!
While there’s no way to make moving completely stress-free, with some forethought you can keep the move manageable. There’s a lot to cover so we’re going to talk about moving in three phases:
- Planning Ahead
- Start Packing
- Moving Day & Beyond
Plan Ahead & Start Early
This is probably the biggest key to managing the stress of a move. Having enough time to organize all the moving parts (pun intended) and stay on top of details keeps you feeling in control. Often the timeline of a move will feel like a ball rolling downhill, picking up momentum and going faster and faster – the closer you get to move date the shorter each day will feel!
- Ideally, a minimum of 2 months before your move schedule movers and start to tackle problem areas, room by room.
- Decide if how much packing and moving you’re doing yourself vs. hiring help. If you’re going the DIY route, allow for more time. If you’re hiring packing help, you’ll need to pre-sort things to avoid having boxes of mixed-up stuff to untangle at the new home.
- Moving isn’t inexpensive! If you hire help for packing and moving, even for a local move, expect to pay a few thousand dollars. Hiring help can be well worth the value. With someone to schlep boxes, you’ll be able to focus your energy on decision making rather than physically wearing yourself out.
- Know the limits of your new space and let that guide your purging, especially for items such as photos, memorabilia and books. Floor planning ahead of time gives you the exact reality of what will fit in your space. You want to make sure the available storage will hold whatever you bring.
- Honor your own limits of time and energy for combing through these things in order to weed the collections.
- Think about what to do with everything you won’t be taking with you. Decide if you want to sell anything via a garage sale, estate sale or online. Identify local donation places and find out if they do pickups. You will have leftovers that can’t be donated; identify haulers or find out your city’s policy on bulky pickups as part of your trash service.
This first phase of moving is all about getting a handle on the big picture and getting through as much of the sorting and purging as possible.
Even if you’re not moving now and just considering it for the future, the process of sorting through things and paring down will make you more nimble if and when you decide to move.
I think of Mother’s Day as a time to honor my mother and all those who have nurtured me. What does Mother’s Day mean to you?
How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?
If you want to give a gift to a nurturing woman in your life, ask them what makes them feel special.
If you are a mom, let your family know what you want. How do you want to remember this special relationship? If you dread getting gifts you don’t really want or can’t use, take charge (and help them out) by suggesting a gift of some kind of service. Does getting a massage or a pedicure or a ticket to a concert help you feel loved and appreciated? Does receiving chocolate just make you groan with regret because you know you’ll just eat the whole box – at one sitting? Let your people know!
Sometimes a personal note, written on nice stationery or a card can mean the world to someone who has cared for you. This is a low-clutter way to honor your special woman. Write your own true thoughts. A simple thing to do is make your own haiku. (3 lines; 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.)
The one who loves you — though you not deserve it — and the love lives on
– Willy King
Just spending time with Mom can make the day special. Focus on her solely. Don’t let her deflect the attention away from herself. Ask her questions; What makes you happy? What’s your best memory of your mom? What have you liked best about being a mother? What do you dream about?
If you feel like your family never acknowledges you or doesn’t give you what you want, give to yourself. Part of being a nurturer requires you to know how to care for yourself. Chances are you won’t buy yourself a gift that you can’t use or don’t love.
Plan a party to honor your mother. Even if your mother is no longer with you, it’s heartwarming to raise a glass in her honor and toast what she did right.
What’s your favorite Mother’s Day memory?
As Professional Organizers, we meet people who are anxious about what to give their loved ones that are personal, valued and “green.” One solution is to give “consumable” gifts. The advantage of a consumable gift is it gives the recipient a special experience, doesn’t take up any room and doesn’t leave behind any clutter.
Edibles and Drinkables
- Gift baskets of food – nice fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolates. Who wouldn’t want to try a variety of yummy foods put together by you…or from your favorite vendor? The SF Bay Area is home to many artisan chocolate and food makers; a basket of local treats makes a personal touch.
- Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant or one you think they’d like.
- Gift an invitation to dine out with you at the hot new restaurant or a known old favorite – your treat of course!
- Teens love gift cards to Peet’s, Starbucks, ice cream, lunch food.
- How about a wine or beer club membership?
- Consider an outing to an Escape Room – a group game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles.
- Tickets or gift certificates to movies, dance, theater, museums or sports events can be prized by people who can’t seem to justify frivolous expenses.
- How about Poetry by Request? My colleague, Claire Tompkins brings her trusty Royal typewriter to events and creates personalized poetry on demand.
- Subscriptions to entertainment services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix can provide easy access to movies and entertainment at home.
- Gift of a special outing with you: ice skating, a picnic in the park, a visit to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park.
- Annual pass for a ski resort or for a fun place like Six Flags Magic Mountain.
- Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers!
- Did you know that AirBNB offers gift cards?
- Get cooking! Kitchen on Fire offers a variety of classes. Cooking lessons are fun to do with a group or with one special friend: either at a store, a cooking school or in your own kitchen.
- A stack of specialty magazines on gaming or weaving or architecture – whatever they’re into – are a treat!
- Would your giftee love an art or other adult education class? Offer to take it with them!
- How about a subscription to a meditation website such as Headspace – a gym for your head?
- A block of classes at the local pilates or yoga studio can inspire them to get going on their health goals.
- Sign them up for a historical tour of a local hot spot
- Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
- A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves
- Hot tub session at a place such as Piedmont Springs
- Do you know someone who complains about the state of their closets, garage or playroom? Give the gift of a session with a professional organizer!
- What do YOU do well? Offer a session with your loved one sharing your skills and time with them: interior design help, personal shopping, gardening, back rubs, clutter-clearing, cooking a meal or teaching a cooking technique, a personalized sight-seeing tour, iPhone instruction-sessions…the sky’s the limit!
Remember to follow up with your giftee. Sometimes people forget about gift certificates. Put a reminder in your calendar for a couple months in the future to touch back with your recipient. Re-invite them to take you up on your offer of a fun experience or remind them of the gift certificate you gave them.
Have a great consumable gift idea? Share it here!
Halloween approaches and, as with any holiday, it’s an opportunity to revisit how you organize all the supplies that go with it. Drag out all the bags and boxes where your Halloween stuff is lurking and give it a fresh look!
- Set aside outgrown kid costumes to hand-down to friends & family or donate.
- Repair or discard damaged/broken props and costumes.
- It can be useful to separate small props/accessories from larger costume pieces.
- Ziploc bags or smaller boxes within a larger container are helpful.
- Give your future self a gift and label all containers.
It’s a good idea to keep décor in a separate container from costumes. It makes decorating easier and you may need costumes for other parties/occasions/general dress-up play. It makes sense to have them live in different locations.
There’re basically 2 options for Halloween specific party stuff– keep them with other Halloween supplies or keep them with other party supplies.
- Halloween friends: Sometimes these end up stuffed into the same box as décor. That can work if you don’t have that much but do yourself a favor and at a minimum use large Ziploc bags to keep paper goods separate from house décor.
- All party friends: Store all holiday/party specific paper goods in a container together but keep them separated by holiday/event within that container.
A word about containers…
Don’t forget the concept of container as limiter! What containers you choose depends largely on where you decide to store Halloween supplies and how much room you’re willing to give over to it. Lidded tubs are great because they’re deep and can stack and be labeled easily.
Some décor (such as giant inflatables and yard props) are too large to contain in a tub and must have some shelf or floor space. Remember, you get to choose how much is enough in each category – contain it appropriately then live within.
Let’s have a show of hands. Who loves to prepare for disasters and contemplate death?
…We didn’t think so.
Let’s have another show of hands. Who thinks of others and would like to make life easier on family and friends?
Here is a simple project to prepare for the unexpected. Regardless of the state of the rest of your house, these are the documents to keep organized and accessible just in case:
- Life or disability insurance policies and/or agent contact information. Don’t forget to include any coverage offered through your employer and/or auto insurance.
- List of assets and open accounts – you can gather sample statements or create a list of all accounts, loans, lines of credit, etc.. Make sure to include the safe deposit box key and information.
- Trust Document and/or name of your attorney
- Healthcare Directive and Financial POA
- Passwords and log-ins to unlock the phone or computer
- Medical cards and list of doctors/caregivers
- List of prescriptions
- Vital Records: Birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, copies of drivers licenses
- If you own a business, who are the key contacts? What is your emergency plan?
- Funeral arrangements
Whether you are partnered or not, identify the person or persons who would be tasked with managing things in your absence and share with them the locations of these documents. It’s ideal to also keep a digital copy of these items and make sure your trusted helper has access to those as well.
Think of how much easier it will be for your loved ones, and better for you, if in the time of crisis they don’t have to dig through various drawers and files looking for information unsure what they may be missing. Creating a simple system for just in case is the kind of gift that provides peace of mind to you and to those who are left to take care of business when you can’t.
Filed under Business Organizing, Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, middle-age, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Perspective, Seniors, Strategies