Organize Before You Move

boxesMoving out of your home and into a new space is one of the most disconcerting events in someone’s life. Even the most organized person can be stressed out at the concept of boxing up your life and moving it. There is an emotional side to the transition and there is also a very physical and practical side to a move. Regardless of the reason for moving, look at it as an opportunity to “right size” your belongings and create a fresh start to your life.

I have helped clients organize their current homes as they are boxing up and preparing to move. On the flip side, I have also helped clients set up their new homes in an organized, functional way so they can feel settled in their new space as soon as possible. Here are some tips on how you can organize before your move to make your transition a little easier:

  1. Do the math:

  • If you have your moving date, plan backwards from there. Count the number of rooms in your home and figure that each room is going to take 1-2 days to pack up. Of course bigger rooms and those with more “stuff” in them will take more time. A room with more furniture and fewer small items may only take one day. If you work full time and are only packing at night, figure on 2 days per room just to be safe.
  • Have the measurements of each room in your new home so you can determine what furniture will fit. Identify what is moving with you and what furniture will be sold or given away. You can do this with a list or by putting colored stickers on the furniture, one color for keep and one for give away.
  • Have the measurements of closet space for every room in the new house. If your bedroom closet is half the size, you may have to part with half of your wardrobe, or consider where out-of-season clothing will be stored. Don’t rely on eyeballing it. Size really does matter in this case!
  1. Start with storage areas:

  • Your basement, garage and attic are the places in your home where you can downsize the most. Obviously, much of what is stored there is not used on a regular basis so start by categorizing and purging here. Box up what you definitely want to keep (I suggest uniform plastic bins for storage areas) and label the box with where these items will be stored in the new home.
  • If you have items in your storage areas that belong to other people (your grown children for instance) label the boxes with their names and give them a deadline for coming by and going through their belongings. Or make a phone call and ask what they want you to do with it. Respect their decision and let it go!
  • Designate a spot in one of these storage areas for donations. As you pack up your home, move donations to that place so they can all be hauled out at once.
  1. Work your way around the house room by room:

  • Once storage areas are organized and all boxed up, go through one room at a time and categorize what you have, purge what you don’t need, want or love and then box up what you will take with you.
  • Label boxes with the category and the room to which it will go in your new home. Leave the boxes in the room where they are.
  • If your move is 2-3 weeks away, only keep out what you will use in that time frame. You may need to be a minimalist for a while, but that’s ok. It may feel good.
  • Determine how many boxes you will need to finish up the room and leave empty boxes there for the last minute pack up.
  1. Last minute items:

  • A day or two before the movers come go around to each room again and pack whatever is left. Label boxes with, “daily essentials” so they are easily identified when you get to your new place.
  • Linens and towels can be easily packed in extra large SpaceBags. Just make sure you have your vacuum handy to vacuum seal them!
  • Put remaining clean clothes and personal items in a suitcase, as if you were packing for a trip.
  • Bathroom sundries should be packed in plastic bins and labeled by category (i.e. medicine, makeup, first aid)
  • Schedule a pick up for donations if you have a large amount. Otherwise, drive to your local Green Drop, Goodwill or food pantry.
  • Clean out the refrigerator, and put out any trash or recycling.
  1. When you arrive at your new home:

  • Set up your bathroom with a trash can, hand soap, toilet paper and towels.
  • Set up your bedroom with linens and the clothes & personal items from your suitcase.
  • Set up your kitchen with any food that you’ve transported, everyday dishes and utensils and some paper products like cups, plates and napkins.
  • Make sure each room has a light in it and window coverings.

Take a deep breath, sit down and don’t try to set it all up in one day. If you’ve done a good job of paring down, and labeling the moving boxes, all you have to do is make sure each box and piece of furniture gets to the correct room. You’ll have your necessities out for the first few days so you can eat, sleep and use the bathroom. Use the room-by-room approach once again as you unpack your boxes and start living in your new home.