Moving is an event known as a life transition. Oftentimes a significant shift in a person's life can lead to a loss of control and one of the ways that shows up is in a disorganized home. As a Professional Organizer at Neat with Knight, I specialize in guiding clients through the process of deciding what goes to the new home and removing what will not go. Here are some tips to help you de-clutter your space and make a smooth transition.
You could pack and move EVERYTHING you own, but that might result in wasted time, money, and energy when you arrive at the new location with items that you do not need, love, or have the space to store. Instead of putting off decisions about which possessions you highly value, commit to clearing out the clutter before moving. Donna Smallin, bestselling author of Organizing Plain and Simple, states that letting go can be difficult and even painful but that "once you get over the initial shock, you'll be amazed at how much lighter and freer you feel". If you have difficulty making decisions ask someone else to be there as a sounding board or hire a professional organizer to help.
Start with the areas holding items that are not needed on a daily basis such as the utility room, laundry room, garage, shed, spare bedrooms, spare closets, and leaving the kitchen for last. When you enter a space, separate the items into general categories, such as all linens, seasonal clothing, and games. Grouping things together makes it easy to see what you have and helps you make decisions about what can be purged. Consider if you really use or love something. If so, do you need as many as you have or can you get rid of a few? Where will it go in your new home and does it fit the new decor? What is the worst possible scenario if you let it go and change your mind in the future? Smallin suggests that you decide whether an item is worth the time and expense it will take to pack, move, and unpack.
Ask the same questions about your pots and pans, seasonal clothing, art, decorative items, and so on until you have addressed every category. Having a floor plan of your new home with space measurements can be a great tool in helping you envision your new living space. Consider each piece of furniture and create a list or diagram of where it will go. Mark items "keep" or "giveaway" and be ready to say goodbye to the things that do not fit with the plan.
When you decide that you use or love an item set the "keepers" aside in one area of the room so that it is easier come packing time. The things you are parting with should be placed into marked bags or boxes for donations, giveaways, sale or trash. After each space has been de-cluttered, you will need to find way to remove the items that you are letting go. A great way to unload furniture and large appliances is to ask the buyer of your home if they are interested in purchasing them. This is a win-win situation for both parties because no time and energy will be spent transporting items. Another easy method is to make a bulk donation to a charitable organization. You can also try to sell things at a consignment store, online at craigslist or eBay, or by hosting an estate sale or yard sale (tips for organizing sales are available at www.neatwithknight.com). If you know a person who might enjoy something you are not keeping, contact them and ask if they are interested in coming to pick it up from you by a certain date. Donate the items after the deadline.
If a situation arises where you decide to pay for a public storage, I caution you to consider the cost beforehand. Add up the current value of the items in question if you were to sell them right now and compare that to the fees for storing them each month. I usually find that after a certain amount of time, a person spends more money storing items than they originally spent buying them, so you might want to keep that in mind before you decide to keep something and pay for the space to store it. My advice is to set a firm deadline for when you will clear the storage space or negotiate with a friend or family member who might accept less money for temporary storage space on their property.
After you are done de-cluttering and purging everything that you do not need or love, you can begin packing your prized possessions for relocation. See next month's article for tips on packing and unpacking.