Decluttering, Packing, And Organizing Before And After A Move
Moving to a new home is the best time to get organized, declutter and follow that adage “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Most of us start out with good intentions and tidy counters, but somehow the disorder grows and eventually takes over the longer we live somewhere. There is the pile of books that you definitely plan to read, the stack of takeout menus, and fast-food coupons that doesn’t have a dedicated home. In your closet, the clothes you don’t wear but haven’t discarded fight for space with blankets that have been replaced but not yet donated. And how do children acquire that many toys before the age of 7?
It’s easy to see why the upcoming movie is an ideal opportunity to regroup and take another shot at that aspirational goal: the organized home. Step one is clearly to reduce the amount of “stuff” that you have to organize, and that’s a win-win if you do it before you go.
Start by taking a hard look at everything: books, clothes, toys, electronics, kitchen items, knickknacks, exercise equipment, sporting goods, furniture. If you don’t use it, it’s time to get rid of it. There are several options for disposing of the things you don’t want to keep (and move) depending on the amount of effort you want to expend.
The simplest way to eliminate unwanted items is to give them away, whether to family, friends, or charitable organizations. Indeed, if you know someone who needs what you have, and you can make a gift of it, that is uncomplicated and personally fulfilling. Donating to nonprofits is also typically easy and satisfying. Gifts to organizations that provide benefits to the community are fulfilling and may also enable you to take a tax deduction, depending on your personal financial situation. Some charities will pick up donations from your residence, while almost all will accept drop-offs. Some have limits on certain items, so check before you go. It would be best if you also took the time to research the organizations to ensure that you are supporting one that uses its resources well.
If you prefer to recoup some of your investment in the things you are relinquishing, there are many ways to sell them. The old-fashioned yard or garage sale is still a staple of life on weekends in much of the country, particularly during the warmer months. With some telephone pole advertising and a few directional signs, you may be able to draw a crowd big enough to justify the early start time. If that isn’t your style (or if your geographic location isn’t favorable), consider some of the online selling options.
eBay is one of the oldest and best-known consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales corporations. eBay was founded in 1995 and has become one of the most notable success stories in eCommerce. You list your item for sale, and buyers bid on it. If you reach an agreement, you exchange the item for payment.
Craigslist, Offerup, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace, 5miles, and others offer similar services, almost all with local listings.
How do I decide what to take with me?
This question can be hard or easy, depending on you and your situation. Suppose you are moving from a large home into a small one. You may need to reconsider some of the furnishings that you have. Perhaps they won’t fit in the new residence, or they might work but just won’t seem appropriate. Or maybe you are moving from a hot desert environment to your dream cabin in the mountains. The terra cotta and pastel décor are not suitable—it’s time to start over with comfy plush sofas and some plaids. Sometimes the purpose of the relocation is a new start, which can influence how much you want to bring along with you. Maybe you want to bring the comforts of your old home, or perhaps you want to start with new things.
How do I organize to make unpacking easy?
Whether you are packing on your own or engaging the movers to do the packing, it will help if you spend some time planning where things are going in the new house. Having a system for unpacking may add a little time to the packing but will allow you to be more efficient in the long run. Here’s why:
- A good inventory helps determine what boxes you unpack first. If you know what is in each box, you won’t waste time looking for something you need right away (think corkscrew on day one—trust me on this one if you have ever tried to open a bottle of wine with a screwdriver). Equally important, the boxers that are secondary can go out of the way to be dealt with later; they won’t be cluttering up the main rooms.
- Suppose you bring seasonal items that are going into closets or the attic. In that case, you can designate this on the outside of the box and have the movers deliver those containers directly to their intended storage location without any intervention. This tactic saves you time, and again, you avoid extra boxes in the main house.
- Work with a floor plan of the new house before you move to determine where you are going to place things. Suppose you will have an office off the kitchen. If you label your office boxes for that room, you can get set up right away. That decreases the possibility that you start out working in the living room and never end up in the designated office at all.
- Be deliberate about closets and cupboards. When you move into a new house or apartment, you have the chance to build new time-saving routines. For example, if the coffee cups are in the cupboard closest to the coffee maker, you don’t have to walk across the kitchen looking for them. If the master bath doesn’t have an adequate shelf for towels, get one before you adjust to the absence. When you hang up your clothes in your new closet, establish a system by function or color or season or all of the above, rather than just hanging them as they come out of the box randomly. Create tidy storage for end-of-the-day toy clean-up for the common areas to help the kids do their part.
Why are there so many boxes?
Sometimes moving can seem overwhelming. Even if you did a lot of work to downsize and discard unnecessary items before the move, fully settling in can take some time. Don’t rush. It may take time to figure out the best place for your favorite chair or some pictures. Give yourself a break after the initial hard work, and let things sit unfinished while getting used to the new layout. You don’t have to fill every space on the wall and find a permanent location for each dish and picture frame. You may change your mind about the furniture arrangement; you may decide you don’t like the color of the throw rugs or even switch from drapes to blinds. That’s half the fun, so enjoy the process.