If You’re Not Really Moving Just Pretend

Recently, I sold my old house, bought a new house and moved all in the same day! This Newsletter is a summary of tips and observations from my packing and moving experience. So, if you are moving and even if you’re not, please read on for help with purging and organizing your stuff.

Since this was my first experience at selling a home, there were many surprises along the way. For example, it required a level of organizing that even I found annoying. Every morning the house needed to be in perfect order, which included making sure there was never a dish left in the sink and the bed was made. I have always had a rule about making my bed – “I only care if I’m home; if I’m not home I do not care.” There was, however, someone who cared about this task just as much as my mother did when I was growing up – my realtor. This high-energy woman would enter my home, walk right past me, and start straitening the pictures. I love her really; she is a good friend of mine, and a wonderful realtor. Still, I wouldn’t dare tell her if I forgot to leave the blinds open before I left the house.

As you might guess, I am pretty organized and I would “self-assess” and say I have a minimal amount of clutter (hey, everyone’s basement has some). Still, the thought of packing it all up and moving it 15 minutes down the road gave me cause to take a closer look at my precious stuff.

Here are a few observations from my moving experience:

  • If you’re not really moving, just pretend – Just make believe the truck is pulling up in front of your house and you have to move box after box after box on a hot summer day. Think of all the labor that goes into moving: getting all of those boxes, then packing, carrying and unpacking them. Are the contents of the box worth all the effort? Do you really want to use all the time, energy and hard work for clothes you haven’t worn in years or things you’re keeping just in case? And how about those mystery boxes that you haven’t unpacked since your last move?

  • Is it “bubble wrap worthy?” – While I often talk about rules and guidelines for getting rid of things, let me address the world of stuff from a different direction. Is it worth keeping? Here is a new mantra I developed to help with the keep-it-or-get-rid-of-it task. For every item, I asked myself an important question: “Is it bubble wrap worthy?” Oh the extra time and effort it takes to bubble wrap. Make sure the item is truly that important.

  • Accept all offers of help IMMEDIATELY – Here is the usual conversation:

    You: “I’m moving.”
    Them: “If you need some help just let me know.”
    You: “OK, I’ll give you a call.”

    NO, NO, NO. Do not do this! Here’s what you could do instead:

    You: “I’m moving.”
    Them: “If you need some help just let me know.”
    You: “OK. When?” (At this point you whip out your calendar with pen in hand
    and schedule a specific date and time).

  • Sorting and packing use different parts of the brain – When you sort, sort. When you pack, pack. Do not sort and pack like it is a joint process. Sorting is logical and emotional and it takes decision-making skills. Sort your belongings first, and then change your mindset to become a “packing machine.” Make packing a mechanical process and it will go much faster.

  • This side of the move – There are two sides of the move: before and after. The first half of the move from the old residence is deadline driven. There is usually a get-out-by-date, which may or may not be under your control. Therefore, you may run out of time to do a complete sort and purge and may have to rush to the just-throw-it-in-the-box phase of packing. You may want to label these boxes with a technical mover’s term like “mish mash” to make life easier when it comes time to unpack.

  • Some things cannot be decided on this side of the move – Will that little table fit in the corner? Are your lamps too big for the new living room? Have you selected all the colors for your new home? There are so many things you will not know until you get there. And sometimes you need to be in the new space for a little while before you decide. If you still like the item but are not sure if it will work in the new place, keep it. You can always get rid of it once you’re at the new house.

  • How about those pictures hanging on your walls? – I am amazed at how many pictures I got rid of during the move. Once they were hung up it took a major event like painting or moving to get me to change them. There are valid reasons to keep old pictures on the wall: they may fit a spot just right or leave a fresh paint square behind. But you can always replace it with a picture of the same size or larger so feel free to purge your wall décor as well.

  • I want grown up furniture – At this age I dare say I am a grown up. So why did I still have hand-me-down furniture from my first place oh so many years ago? In the new house, I only wanted furniture that I chose myself. Good-bye old furniture! I called 211, the Info Line, and made arrangements to donate the old pieces. They picked it up and I get a tax write off.

  • You know you’re curious about this – How much stuff did this Professional Organizer get rid of? I had a small empty room in my old house that became the get-rid-of-it room. I practically filled that room with my discarded things. I was very proud of myself. How did I get rid of that stuff? As friends and family helped me with the move I invited them to take anything they wanted and the rest went to consignment or charity.

  • The main reason I got rid of things – I have changed. I think and feel differently than when I moved into my old house 5 ½ years ago. I like different colors, wear different clothes and have a different life. My outside world is catching up with my inside world. I want to feel free to grow, develop and change even more. I want to live in a home that encourages that process.

Although I am happy with the amount of stuff got rid of, I can’t help but think how nice it would have been to live in the old house with less possessions. So my suggestion to you, whether you are moving or staying, is to start sorting and purging through your things. Lighten the load!

A professional organizer for more than 15 years, Susan Lovallo, CPA, CPO, works with individuals and businesses to help them declutter, simplify and establish or streamline systems. Whether you are organizing your home, business, or financials, the result is greater productivity with less effort, providing more time to enjoy life. Clients appreciate Susan’s easy and effective solutions and financial expertise, as well as her patience, compassion and sense of humor.

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