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!