Organizing BEFORE You Move: Save Time and Your Sanity

So, you’re moving! How exciting and yet, utterly terrifying.

Moving doesn’t have to be your worst nightmare, though. It CAN have the potential to be only a mildly scary mini-dream. Below are a few tips to help you tame that moving beast while staying organized and at least partly sane.

Visualizing the New Place

Firstly, let’s start by visualizing your new place. Moving into a new home can also be the start of a new chapter in your life. Homes are often a marker in time when you think back and say, “it was when we were in the yellow house on Drury Street, or was it still when we lived at the condo?” Each home has a different feel and elicits different emotions. Looking forward, what kind of vibe are you wanting from this new place?

A few major factors that determine this are:

  • Location
  • Decor
  • Size

Each of those factors play into and off of each other. It’s not likely to feel like a quiet, relaxing oasis if you’re on the corner of two busy streets and you probably won’t get that authentic southwestern feel if all of your furniture and decor is mid-century modern. If you’re decreasing or increasing the square-footage, think about your current furniture and how that will physically fit in the new place.

Drive around and map out the new neighborhood. Think of some specific decor pieces that you can visualize beautifully placed in your new space. Taking measurements of the new rooms, your current furniture, and planning the furniture layouts beforehand can save you time and frustration when you realize mid-move that the new sectional doesn’t fit down the basement stairs.

Create Moving Notebook/Folder

Use whatever you have to keep all this moving-related info together. You don’t have to get super fancy with a hyper-organized, tabbed and color-coded binder, but having one place as your go-to can save you a lot of time when searching for your moving info.

Some good things to keep in here are:

  • Research (moving companies, storage units, internet/cable providers, new utilities and trash companies, etc)
  • To-do list:
    • Utilities to Turn on/off
    • School Paperwork to Transfer
    • Change of Address, Notifying Relevant Parties of Address Change (banks/credit cards, magazines/subscriptions, HR at work, etc.)
  • Moving Schedule, Appliance Drop-Offs, Carpet Cleaners, Etc.
  • Donation Center for donate items
  • Recycling Center for post-move boxes/packing paper

I also suggest creating individual folders for the following paperwork. Though most of these are moving-related, you will need to hang on to this info for much longer.

  • Loan/Closing Documents/Lease
  • Appliance Instruction Manuals
  • Warranties

Lighten the Load

Now, onto the most important part of this whole shebang. Do not bring anything to the new house that you didn’t use or love in the old house. If it’s broken and you don’t have solid plans to fix in with-in a few weeks, it’s time to go.

Before you move is the perfect time to “trim the fat”. A couple great areas to focus on de-cluttering and pairing down are:

  • Kitchen appliances and utensils
  • Bathroom and bedroom linens
  • Each family member’s wardrobe
  • Books and Media
  • Children’s toys

Now is also the time to go through those old boxes in storage that you’re not quite sure of the contents, yet have drug around to the last two or three houses with you. Odds are that they are full of items that don’t serve you anymore.

If you’re thinking that they are mostly keepsakes and memorabilia, it’s still a good idea to go through them and purge what you don’t absolutely love and want to still be holding onto 10 years from now. Chances are that the the last time you went through those old boxes, it was probably a lot more important to you to hold on to that high school graduation tassel than it would be to you now.

Packing

Now that you’ve gotten rid of things you don’t love or use anymore, it’s time to start packing up what’s left. It’s a good idea to start packing the items that are the least accessed/used and finishing by packing the every-day items. Starting this processes early will save you the most time and eliminates a lot of that last-minute scrambling and stress.

A couple tried-and-true packing tips:

  • Mostly use small and medium boxes
  • Put EVERYTHING in boxes
  • Put related and like-items in the same box
  • Label each box with:
    • What room the box should be taken to
    • What is mostly in the box

Selling Your Home

If you are listing your current home to sell, pack up as many of the household items as you can. While your home will be shown, it’s vital that there is no clutter anywhere.

  • Remove any non-neutral decor, especially personal photos and knick-nacks
  • Remove kitchen counter top appliances, store food out-of-sight
  • Keep bathroom and laundry counter tops clear
  • Give storage rooms a purpose, i.e. stage as a craft/sewing space etc.
  • Create illusion of space by moving some furniture to storage
  • Pack and store off-season clothing and shoes
  • Pack and store majority of children’s toys – especially large bulky toys like play kitchens, riding toys, etc.

Compile a Moving Essentials Kit

Alright, now you’re ready to move! It’s also a good idea to create an essentials kit with some of the items you will need to access right away that will save you from having to rip open and dig through boxes just to find one or two items. Here are just a few things that are great to include in your moving day essentials kit:

  • Toilet Paper
  • Towels/Paper Towels
  • Trash Bags
  • Soap: hand, dish, multi-purpose spray
  • 1 Dish Set/Disposables, Silverware, Cups
  • Box Cutter
  • Light Bulbs
  • Shower Curtain
  • Set of Bed Sheets for each bed
  • Teapot/Coffeemaker
  • Baby/Kid Items

Un-Packing

Now it’s time to unpack and settle in! This part can be especially overwhelming. Below are some tips to help it stay a little less chaotic and a little more manageable.

  • Start unpacking right away
  • Only unpack one room (fully) at a time
  • Put things where they should permanently live as you unpack
  • Tear down boxes and move to recycling as you go

Additional Resources

Check out this thorough Organized Moving Checklist from the Container Store to make sure you’re staying on point.

Also, if you’d like some help getting your move organized, de-cluttering, or sorting through storage items, please contact me, I’d love to help!

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Making Time, Space, and Energy for Creativity

What makes you feel creative? The last time you created something that brought you joy, what inspired you? What kind of environment were you in?

For me, being inspired enough to actually create (not dinner, or another load of laundry) requires my environment to be in harmony.

If my house is messy and there’s a mountain of laundry, I do not feel compelled to spend my free time whipping up new soap recipes. It’s hard to justify lugging out the sewing machine to do some hemming when there are dishes and a mountain of laundry to wash and put away.

For me, I love creating soooo much that it’s vital that I make time for it. Routines are a great way to save time and make our household flow soooooo much better. We’ve found that just having a plan for how the week is going to go free up a lot of time spent trying to make choices at the last minute.

I’ve found the following ways to be really great ways to create more time:

Sunday Review

Take time on this one day of the week to plan out the week ahead. Check everyone’s schedules, activities, and wants (like time for you to work solo) for the week and combine them onto one clear, visible place that everyone sees on a regular basis.

Below is our weekly calendar on the fridge. It’s also the home of our grocery and to-get list.20160218_141444.jpg

We sit down with both of these boards every Sunday before our weekly grocery shopping trip so we know exactly what we need for the upcoming week… which brings me to the next time-saving nugget…

Meal Planning

When the weeks meals are planned ahead you eliminate those extra trips to the grocery store. You also save a ton of money by not buying items that don’t end up getting used and by not buying extra junk that’s not on the list. Plus, this way everyone in the family gets to pick/cook a meal and will eat dinner at least one night a week. 🙂

It’s best to plan a few very simple staple meals for the week and then fill in with more complicated meals and new recipes for a day or two. Plan the meals you’ll be dining out. Help your kiddos plan their meals and gather what they’ll need to cook them. The earlier the kids get involved in this process the better. Kids develop their critical thinking and decision making skills by practicing.

Laundry Routine/Rotation

Laundry never ends. We just have to accept it and move on. Your laundry will never be “done”. This is an every. damn. day. kinda deal. It’s more of a rotation and a habit you get into.

I’ve found that the best way to make it as fast and painless as possible is by adopting the following strategies (which apply to multiple kinds of tasks):

Do small loads. This is best implemented by using small baskets. Quicker to put away and not as overwhelming as a mountain of clothes. Wash when it’s full. Not overflowing.

Wash often. Make changing out a load part of your morning routine. Brush teeth. Change laundry. Rinse, lather, repeat. Do the same at lunch or dinner. Having a set time that you pop a load in and out is easy to remember and steady keeps the laundry train a movin’.

Get everyone involved. Have everyone “put away” their own clothes (which can even mean just having them fling clothes into a low drawer or basket). The little ones feel proud for helping, and though it may take a little bit longer, they are learning responsibility and taking ownership of their items. It will pay off later. If your kids aren’t eager to help out, offer incentives (see next item).

Chore Chart / Everyone’s Opening & Closing Duties / Household Flow Chart

Chore charts are a good visual for everyone to see and serve as a great tool for accountability. Not only are chore charts great for kiddos, but they are also awesome for mom and dad. When the kids see that mom and dad are also checking off their to-dos, it makes them want to participate. Offer exciting rewards for getting chores done (not punishments for not doing them). Also, not calling it a ‘chore chart’ helps reluctant family members get on board a little easier. Make it into a fun game for the family. Teamwork.

Pinterest is an amazing resource to find free, printable charts. You can also check etsy for some really cute and custom chore charts.

All Items Have a Home

Have a designated spot for EVERYTHING. If you have to look for something in more than two or three spots, it’s time to check yo’ self. Keep things with their like-items. Don’t have a bunch of the same things strung about in different places. Keeping everything similar together prevents you from losing things or buying multiples.

Once you feel like your house is in (relative) harmony and you’ve scheduled yourself some proper time in the week, it’s time to make space.

What area of your house makes you feel good to be in? Is there a room or area that is beautifully decorated or home to family pictures that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or do you love being outside in the breeze and listening to the birds? Go to your nearest favorite place.

It’s important to have a designated creation station. A closet makes a perfect mini artist studio but so does a tote bag or a storage bin. Even if it’s just the corner of the coffee table, clear a space to work.

Make sure you have all of the tools you need. Favorite paper to write on. Favorite utensil to write with. Colored pencils. Paint. Charcoal. Oven. Chainsaw. Whatever. I’m a big proponent of kits. There can be a kit for everything, literally. If I’m working on sewing, I have a sewing kit (plastic bin with all of my sewing supplies). I have an organizing kit that I take to all of my sessions with me. When I was doing cosmetology, I had my hair, skin, and nails kits. A kit is just an itemized list of things that you’ll need for any specific task and then all of those items organized into some area or container. Compile one.

Now that I’ve scheduled the time and made a work space, I’ve found that I have a heck of a lot more energy for creating. I feel more inspired when my mind is less full of lagging chores and looming obligations. When I know that things are operating (at least somewhat) smoothly, I can breathe a big cleansing sigh and open up my heart.

When I create something that I have put my love and energy into, I feel like I’m breathing life into the world and into myself. That’s such an energizing feeling. The more I create, the more energy I have for creating. It’s a snowball effect. Even if you don’t get into a laundry system or plan any meals, the most important part is to just start creating. Just sit down and create something small. Anything. Once you’re in motion, it’s a lot easier to keep going.

I challenge you to make more time, space, and energy for creating by getting your daily routine in check, implementing systems for your daily chores, and crafting that special creation space. Below is a recap of the main ways I’ve found to accomplish that goal. Good luck to you!

RECAP:

  1. Schedule (damn near) everything. Pick a time for creating and put it on the calendar. Make sure it’s a time that you’ll actually WANT to create, for example, some people like working better at night vs day etc. Be aware of your tendencies.
  2. Streamline your household chores with routines (meal planning, laundry, cleaning, petcare, etc).
  3. Everyone participates and has responsibilities. No matter how small, if  kids can walk, they can put their clothes in a basket.
  4. Work in a space in your home that you want to be in, somewhere that makes you feel good. 
  5. Just start creating. The more you create, the easier it becomes.

What tips have you found to help yourself become more creative? Please share in the comments below!

This post originally created for afreespiritlife.com‘s 21 day art and journaling class observe, create, connect!

Before and After Pics

closets

Busy Professional Man's Closet - Before and After

  Organizing and Containing Bathroom Items - Organized and Contained Bathroom Items Before and After  organized closet before and after From Closet Chaos to Closet Tidy - Organized Closet and Room Before and After

offices

Photographers Home Office - Before and After 1 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 2 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 3 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 4 Catch All Home Office - Before and After 1 Catch All Home Office - Before and After Dumping Ground Home Office - Before and After

garages

Un-Packing a Catch-All Garage - organized garage before and after left side Dads Tool Bench Organized - Before and After Cluttered Garage - Before and After

craft rooms

 A Sewing Room - Before and After A Craft Room Rediscovered - De-Cluttered Craft Room Before and After A Craft Room Rediscovered - before and after of an organized sewing counter

Basements and Storage

Organized Basement Storage - Before and AfterOrganizing a Storage Closet - Before and After Organized Storage Closet

play rooms

Organizing a Toy Room - Before and After Organized Toy Room Organized Play Room - Before and After

laundry and linen

 Creating Laundry Room Storage - Before and After Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Linen Closet Before and After

unpacking into organization

Unpacking a Kitchen 1 Unpacking a Kitchen

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner

Are you a gift giver?  Do you spend extra money on wrapping paper or gift bags not because you don’t have it but because the thought of finding it is too exhausting to even think about?  I’ve been there, I know.   And I hope I’m not speaking out of turn to say that it’s possible my client may have had some of the same feelings.  She had a closet, a closet that was a tad congested, too congested to allow her to be the gift giver I could tell she was!   She didn’t want it to be that way, but she was a busy mama that worked a lot of hours and for real, she almost jumped in front of my camera when I said I was going to take some before pictures!  It was a thorn in her side…. she didn’t love it…. at all.  I don’t think she wanted proof that this eyesore existed in her home.  But all of that was about to change.   Here is what we were looking at.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner- messy closet

And a peek a little further in…..

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - just inside the door

So the first thing that we did was remove all the hanging clothing so it could be reunited with clothing in other closets in the home.  We also found some clothing items hiding in this basket so those were eradicated as well.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy shelf

Then it was on to the paper sorting extravaganza.  Rolls of wrapping paper were grouped together as were ribbon, tissue paper, gift bags and cardboard/mailing items.    I also went through all of her gift boxes and made sure that there were a matching top and bottom, if not it went to the recycle bin!  Ain’t nobody got time to play a matching game when they need to wrap something!  The name of the game was function and since she had plenty of tubs I just used what she already had to come up with a workable scenario.   If she was going to wrap a gift she needed to to be able to find tissue paper by the color, gift bags by the occasion and have one location for the ribbons and bows.  In no time at all we had a corner where she could find what she needed in 5 seconds flat and let her creative juices flow instead of walking away in frustration!! Check it out!

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized shelf plus covered bucket

And below that shelf  there was floor space that easily housed the rest of her things.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized floor space

Off in the corner we had the gift boxes stored upright so she could just file through to find what she wanted.  She was even able to have a box containing her mailing supplies and she said she did quite a bit of mailing.  She was afraid I was going to make her get rid of the cardboard but with everything else in order there was plenty of room.  I don’t have a problem with it if you really do use it!  I also put some of the smaller rolls of wrapping paper where they would be visible instead of falling to the bottom of the other taller container that held the longer rolls upright.

Congetsted Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized inside the door

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized overall closet space

We knocked out that closet and still had time on her session so I happened to look in this little storage bench just outside the closet.    It had a few too many things in there so we did a quick purge…

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy storage bench

Whala, a grand reduction!

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized storage bench

We still had a smidge of time so we headed to another headache closet for a brief spruce-up! She was being tricky and trying to clean some things up before I got my before picture!!!  Cracking me up!

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy craft closet

The drawers she had for crafts had gotten a bit crazy….

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy top craft drawer

So we did a little turn around….Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized top craft drawer

And the bottom drawer.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy bottom craft drawer

Only cross-stich items were allowed back in….

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized bottom craft drawer And the middle drawer already had ribbon in it so more was added and straightened just a bit.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized middle craft drawerOverall a feel good session and another great client!!! Happy Day.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized craft closet

 

Project by Nicole in Kansas City

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - Before and After Storage Closet

Glitzy Christmas Wonderland

Once Thanksgiving day has come and gone  you know Christmas is truly almost here, but time seems to slip away faster as your gift buying, baking & to do list grows longer.  There’s so much more you want to be busy with than pulling everything out to decorate so you can all bask in the glitzy Christmas wonderland.  My client was ecstatic to have her whole family together on her favorite holiday for the first time in over 5 years! So, I quickly channeled my inner Elf and to work I went on creating a cozy space for all of them to enjoy.

Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Front Door

An inviting front porch sets the tone for the Christmas wonderland your guests will step foot in!Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Front Porch

Collecting holiday decorations over the years through travels, fun finds and family heirlooms can be both heartwarming and overwhelming. It was fun choosing the items with my client that held  the most meaning and importance to her so that we could truly display all the sweet memories & stories they hold.

Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Piano MemoirsGlitzy Christmas Wonderland- Family History

The history that oozed from this one area was unbelievable! I loved the rare antique Christmas decor that was handed down from my client’s mother alongside some of her re purposed vintage perfume bottle holders that now held candles. I can just imagine this room being filled with the sounds of the childrens giggles as they wind up the musical boxes that are amidst their ancestors photos. Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Classic Memories

I  brought together items my client already had to create centerpieces that were both festive & glitzy! Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Centerpiece

This tree may be one of my favorites I have ever laid my eyes on! It’s woodsy chic charm quickly served as the inspiration of our glitzy Christmas wonderland  we were creating.Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Christmas TreeGlitzy Christmas Wonderland- Unique Christmas Ornaments

Santa collections, nutcrackers & gorgeous Nativity sets filled the space to bring that holiday charm!Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- International Nativity

Many of the decorations came from my clients international travels in Saudi Arabia, Latin America and her time living in Columbia!Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- International TrinketsGlitzy Christmas Wonderland- Christmas Corner Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Nutcracker Crew Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Touch of Spirit

I’m in love with this centerpiece that came together perfectly when my client and I put our heads together! Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Outdoor CenterpieceGlitzy Christmas Wonderland - Lanterns and Greenery

The antlers, greenery and pops of red poinsettias really brought this outdoor space together.Glitzy Christmas Wonderland- Antlers & Greenery

Now wouldn’t you just love to enjoy a cup of coffee here after a nice meal with your family?! My client was a pleasure to work as a team with and by the end of our time together she truly felt like family! Excited for the memories she and her family will be creating in this glitzy Christmas wonderland I had the pleasure of sprucing up.Glitzy Christmas Wonderland

 

Project by Soraya in Austin, Tx

Making A Workshop Work

Part of a workshop’s job description is to do some pretty heavy work.   It has to house all the things that are needed to do a job.  In my client’s case the construction business is the name of the game and there are so many facets to that.  His workshop was not doing the work it needed to make things easy to find and ready to go!  Making A Workshop Work - messy workshop

There were too many things on the floor blocking the shelves….

 

Making A Workshop Work - messy concrete and paint

Or blocking other equipment that needed accessibility.

 

Making A Workshop Work - messy lawn care

The solution was to do some sorting and consolidating on the shelves and some rearranging.  So that they went from this….

Making A Workshop Work - messy shelves

 

To this!   My client was actually the genius that thought of pulling them out from the wall, back to back,  and I wholeheartedly agreed and felt a smidge sheepish that I didn’t think of that myself!!

Making A Workshop Work - organized shelves

 

And once the consolidating happened all the piles on the floor were able to go onto those shelves.

 

Making A Workshop Work - organized concrete bags

Making A Workshop Work - organized lawn care

 

We also made a home for the wood on the wall and I loved how it turned out!  Unfortunately, as is the case a lot of the time with me,  in my excitement to get started I failed to grab a picture of the large shelving unit that the wood was stored in before, but my client will tell you that it wasn’t working out!!!

 

Making A Workshop Work - organized wood on the wall

 

And the finished view, beyond the wood  is the following……

 

Making A Workshop Work - organized workshop

 

OH, I was all about making a workshop work and I think we did!

 

Project by Nicole in Kansas City

Making a Workshop Work - Organized Before and After Workshop

That Awkward Closet

Are you lost when it comes to that tiny office closet and you just can’t seem to figure out how to organize it?  Look no further! Here are a few ways to get in there and get it organized.

My client needed some direction in where to even begin with her small yet long office closet. We started by pulling all items out, sorting through and putting them into categories by grouping like items (i.e. office supplies, paperwork, odds-n-ends), then placing them in boxes that we labeled. Labeling makes it a lot quicker to find a specific item that you are looking for.

awkward  office closet_before
awkward office closet_before2
Now is a great time to step back and asses how you need your space to function. Think of putting in a shelving unit if you have a fairly tall and narrow closet. By placing things that are used less often (or are seasonal) towards the top and at the back you are leaving room for those everyday items to be placed front and center.
awkward  office closet_after
awkward  office closet_after_micro
If there happens to be some overflow and you have a piece of furniture that you can incorporate do so. Lucky for us there was just that…a great piece already in the office and all we needed to do was clean it up a bit. It was perfect to house those everyday use items.
awkward  office closet_extra space
awkward  office closet_extra space_after1
Always try and start with a blank canvas and think of exactly what it is that you need out of the space. How would you like it to flow and how would you like it to look. This can really help when it comes to laying a foundation for any space!
Project By Amber in Austin
That Awkward Closet - Organized Home Office Closet Before and After