Opportunity to Organize: Make the Most of Moving, Part 1

Focus in on close up of a smiling young African American woman as she finishes taping up a moving box. Her smiling husband is in the background carrying a donations box.

View the moving process as an opportunity to declutter and to stay organized before you move your new home.

Many people get overwhelmed at the thought of all the packing that comes with moving into a new home and they shut down.

To prevent that from happening, we spoke with organizational expert Trish Ethridge of moving company Hilldrup to learn how to declutter and organize your belongings before you move so you can make the most of this change in your life and start out at your new home with a clean slate.

Change Your Mindset

It’s tough to optimize your move when all you can think about is the amount of work that should go into making it happen. Maybe you need to sell your current home first and must make some improvements before it can go on the market.

Maybe you’ve been working with a builder and are so exhausted by the construction process that the move is just one more thing to get through.

Or maybe you are downsizing or merging two households. The point is there are both emotional and physical costs to moving and either type can drain you.

Ethridge suggests you change your mindset. “Think of moving as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to create a certain change that you want in your life.”

By thinking of the move in this positive manner, it becomes motivating instead of draining. When you’re motivated, you’re more likely to do the things that need to be done, no matter how unpleasant.

“Moving is a Top 5 stressor for people. The best way to get through it is not to think of the to-do list, but to think of the end result. What do you have to look forward to after all this work is over and done.”

Ethridge’s Tips for Organizing Before the Move

It may not seem like it, but it is far easier to get organized and to declutter before you move than after. It makes the moving process itself much easier. By organizing your household ahead of the move, you not only move fewer things (and save on moving costs!), but also move organized things.

“There’s less of the ‘Now where am I going to put that?’ kind of problem once you get into the new place and more of an almost-refreshing feel as you pack up in the old house. It’s a lot like spring cleaning, but on a bigger scale.”

In general, Ethridge recommends starting to declutter and organize your house at least six months before you expect to move. This will provide you with enough lead time that you won’t feel rushed or pressured into getting everything done on time. It also provides the added benefit of allowing you to take note of what you really use and what you can live without. It also gives you time to hold a garage sale, donate the items or pass them along to friends or family members who could use them.

“If you’re not sure about an item, put it in a box and stick it in the garage. If you need it enough that you are willing to go out into the garage to get it, keep it. If after six months, you don’t find yourself going to look for it, it’s probably safe to get rid of it.”

The exception, Ethridge explains, is holiday or seasonal items that you may only use a couple of times a year. In those cases, you’ll have to decide what you want to keep and what you don’t want in the new house.

Check out Opportunity to Organize: Make the Most of Moving, Part 2  of this series to explore best practices for packing, room by room.
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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