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.


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


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!


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!


  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‘s 21 day art and journaling class observe, create, connect!

Before and After Pics


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


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


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

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet

These clients are a sweet tech-loving couple. Shawna and I helped to organize their home office once before, but this time the home owners wanted to focus on the spacious home office closet . Closets can become a catch-all for all sorts of items, but with a little time and some help, it can be a breeze to fix.

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet - Cluttered Home Office Corner

The closet was full of outdated computer wires, cds, hard disks, and computer parts. Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Messy Home Office Closet

There were a lot of great bins and study boxes already in place, so one we removed the clutter, the storage containers were put to better use. Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Cluttered Top View of Home Office Closet Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Cluttered Middle View of Home Office Closet

In order to make the space as functional as possible, we moved anything that did not need to be accessed regularly and put it at the very top and we put very heavy items on the floor of the closet.

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Organized Home Office Closet

Mailing supplies, electronic cleaner, useful wires and extension cords were placed at eye level and in plain sight.

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Organized Top View of Home Office Closet

We replaced the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that were being used for storage with plastic containers and bins, so the space looked neat and inviting. There was even an empty drawer and some empty bins that fit nicely into the closet. Success!

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Organized Home Office Closet

The end result was very exciting for all of us! We were able to get everything back into the closet and had room for the 8 boxes that were cluttering up the room. Now the whole room looks light and airy!

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet - Decluttered Home Office Corner

Parting with your things can be difficult, but when we focus on removing things from the home and not just rearranging what we have, we have much more opportunity to create the spaces and functionality that we desire. Check out this article for some ideas on how to remove clutter, just like these clients!

Project by Beth in Austin, TX

Dusting Off: The Home Office

So many of us have those spaces in our home that we intend to use for one purpose but, after time, end up being used for something else.
Many times it’s short term storage, which after a while, has a tendency to nudge you down that slippery slope into catch-all storage.

This homeowner’s front home office was due for a little dusting off and an organizational update.
She had designed a beautiful, functional home office and after becoming a temporary (see: always longer than you’d like) storage area, it was time for a reset.

In the entry way were two beautiful french doors. We opened them up into a dark, dusty home office.

Catch-all Home Office - Cluttered Home Office
It had the cutest blue writing desk covered in paperwork, electronics, and random stuff that had a better home to go to.

Catch-all Home Office - Cluttered Writing Desk


Catch-all Home Office - Cluttered Home Office 2
There was a corner of the room that held framed diplomas, boxes of video games, and decor.

Catch-all Home Office - Catch-all Corner
We started by opening the curtains and letting in a bunch of energizing sun.

Next, we drug everything on the floor out into the foyer and making a pile of all the paperwork for the homeowner to go through.

Catch-all Home Office - Clear Home Office Corner

Beth and I grabbed her awesome Shark vacuum, a dust cloth, and went to town on the dust and floors while she sat down and sorted the paperwork into stacks of categories.
Sorting is always the crazy part. In the middle of it you’ll have 20 stacks around you as well as a huge stack of papers in front of you.
This homeowner powered-through it, though.
She went through her folder categories, replaced some files, added new ones, and threw away old documents.  Beth shredded a ton of old documents.

If you don’t need it to refer back to for a legal reasons, odds are, you can probably do without it. Most companies and banks have online backup of information, if there’s a change you might need a document, you can usually request it from them instead of hanging onto a ton of paper waste. 

After the piles were formed, the homeowners moved in an empty filing cabinet in from their garage. We used the filing cabinet for small office storage like papers, filing folders, small electronics and video games that had been previously hanging out in a cardboard box in the corner.

This client was holding onto her dad’s old SLR Camera which happened to be broken. She admitted that she probably wasn’t going to use it so there was no bother in getting it fixed. She still wanted to hang onto it for the memory. We got rid of the storage case and displayed it as decor on her bookcase.

Keep it if it’s useful or beautiful.
If it’s beautiful, display it.

Catch-all Home Office - Organized Home Office


Catch-all Home Office - Clear Writing Desk


Catch-all Home Office - Organized Home Office 2

By the end of the session, all of the dust and doggie hair was gone, everything was in it’s useful home, and the french doors would now be an open addition to the home’s decorative feel.

Blog: Shawna
Project: Shawna and Beth
City: Austin

Professional Organizer Austin - Catch-all Home Office - Cluttered Home Office Organized Home Office



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

Bachelor Pad Clutter

I don’t recommend trying to get organized all in one shot. It’s overwhelming. Instead, start with one or two important areas, and work your way down. We began by organizing the all important desktop/bookshelf that was in need of some attention. By removing everything and sorting through each piece of paper and the office supplies we were able to get rid of the unnecessary items.

sorting items on the dresser
sorting items on the bed

Clean as you go. This will save you time rather than letting things pile up and having to do a big cleaning session later. A great way to keep loose papers organized is by picking up file storage trays and having each one serve it’s own purpose. It’s a good idea to go ahead and label them. For example: Bills to be Paid, Read and Review, Taxes and To be filed. You can also pre-label files for each of your current projects, priorities or other documents you know you will need a file for.

organized desk work area
organized bookshelf

Maintain your desk by putting things away immediately after you’re finished using them.

Next we tackled the closet that was still home to moving boxes. Removing all those boxes and sorting through each one gave us a chance to get rid of those unused items and see the rest laid out.

messy packed closet

We slowly incorporated each item back in finding a specific place for it. Store your most-used items at eye level, less-used items below, and least-used items up high.

organized clothing closet
organized clothing closet corner

The solution: you need to develop systems to keep your organization in place. Once those systems are in place, be vigilant about keeping them going. Things will stay organized and leaving you feeling great.

Project by Amber in Austin

organized closet before and after