Overwhelmed a Year after Moving In!

babylarkJanuary 26, 2006

I moved into my home a year ago. I have a spare bedroom that is stacked to the ceiling with boxes. I want to go through everything and yard sale then donate the stuff I don't need. But, I don't know how to go about getting everything set aside. We don't have any extra space around the house. The garage is FULL of stuff also! (Including some moving stuff and garage stuff) HELP! Anyone have any suggestions?



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I have an unwritten rule, if something is stored away in a box and unopened for a yr for anything, then I don't need it and apparently don't particularily want it if I haven't bothered, I donate it. (I don't do tag sales) Very liberating to have "stuff" gone instantly.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 9:16AM
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Steph, might I suggest that if the stuff has been in the room for a year that most of it could be donated and done with?.. How freeing it would be just to take a box or two and drop them off at the local Ladies of Charity.. then you could walk in the room! I know what many people get a real charge out of the garage sale thing but what is your time worth? If you were working what pay would you expect per hour? Now think aobut how long it will take you to get all that stuff ready for sale... 10 hours?.. 15?.. plus the time and expense of the sale it's self. How much will you make?.. Maybe a lot.. $300.. but if you have put in 15-20 hours.. is it REALLLLY? worth it??


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 9:35AM
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Start with the big things, bigger impact. Like doing the easy questions first on a test.

I haven't done this. But one friend of mine recently asked another of our friends to come help her for the day to go through things around the house, get rid of clutter. (I thought it was funny she didn't ask me.) Later she said it had been a desperate call, to open up her weaknesses and aske for help. But it was the best thing b/c the friend kept her from getting distracted, wasn't attached to items and was the voice of reason instead of emotion in getting rid of stuff. Since she knows her, she knew just what to say to make her get rid of stuff.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:36AM
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I am assuming that the above posters mean that you should get rid of the boxes after going through them. I have moved way too many times and, IMHO, just because you haven't used something in the box doesn't mean you didn't need it. You just couldn't locate it. At least this is my slant on it. I've been where you're at. I have found, years later, items that I thought were lost in previous moves. How something from the office ended up in a box that had tools in the garage, I'll never know. But these things do happen.

I'd make a list of items that need to be kept and organized. It could be office supplies, toys, clothes, kitchen items, etc. Can't you just take out a few boxes and go through them in front of the TV at night? Of course, get rid of non-essentials but start to organize by using your list. After a few nights, you'll have room in that spare room for a staging area as you continue with more boxes.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:47AM
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I'd go through the boxes too. We had 'help' packing and unpacking our stuff three years ago. I'd find my old textbooks lying in the floor when I wanted them kept in the box. Items of greater importance were buried in boxes at the bottom of the stack. This last summer, I found the videos of my wedding and the kid's birth in the hot attic. Meanwhile, dh's old videos of college football games were taking up precious space in my video area.

I think Marie has a good plan for going through things.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 11:11AM
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Sure I would take a peek through them... but if you have not missed it in a year I think that careful thought should be given about expending the energy and money to make a *home* for it in your home.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 12:41PM
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I would set a goal for a box a day. Take it out of the room and check through it. Put away things you need to keep. Be a bit ruthless in that "saving for I might need it someday" mentality will just keep you buried in clutter. I would not save stuff for a garage sale.

You stated that you don't have room to store the garage sale stuff, so just let it go to the thrift store now. I personally would keep track of the donations with a program like It's Deductible. We did $4,000 in non-cash donations the year we moved because we donated so much stuff. Much better than I could have done trying to sell at a garage sale.

One box a day. You'll have a new room in a month.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 1:28PM
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I started a post and must have lost it.

I vote don't try to have a garage/yard sale--you don't have room.

Try to schedule one day a week that you swing by the thrift shop for drop-offs, and put the stuff in the trunk to accumulate until then.

And remember--stuff you THINK is valuable, may not be. Thrift shops often get tons too much. Some of it can legitimately go in the garbage.

Think about it--it's going to end up there EVENTUALLY, right? Nothing is forever. So, just send it there a little early, and it won't be making clutter somewhere else in the meantime.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 3:44PM
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Talley... that goes like a million X's for stained or frayed clothes. Our rule is... if WE would not buy it at a thrift shop then it should go in the trash. Honestly most of my kids clothes go to the trash.. my kids are HARD on clothes so I just keep a large trash can by the drier. If it comes out stained, ripped or I don't want the kids to wear it any more ...plop it goes in the can!

Many people should be ashamed of themselves for donating half the stuff that they do!.. icky, sweaty, stained. You learn a lot volunteering time in a church thrift shop. ;-)


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 4:22PM
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I had the same problem, and it was incredibly embarassing that we had a "box room." For the first couple months not so much, but after the first year, I kind of started getting ashamed of still having stuff in boxes, especially all the family pictures. We have no intention of moving anytime soon, so why should we keep this stuff packed up?

First I started thinking of things I could do with the box room. I chose computer room/sewing room. This got me motivated to start clearing it out: I got a new sewing machine and a new printer, and I wasn't going to use them until I had the boxes OUT. I did allow some boxes to live in the closet, but my rule is that nothing can protrude from the closet, so that I can still close the doors.

Next I pulled out three boxes into the living room, and started emptying them out into 3 piles: Keep, Trash, and Donate. If I was going to keep it, and there was a place for it in the house already, I went ahead and put it away. Then once those 3 boxes were empty, I put the stuff from the piles into those boxes. The trash box went straight outside to the trash cans. The donate box went straight to my car (the passenger seat, not the trunk--you'll forget it in the trunk), and the keep box went back to the box room (but labelled KEEP). I tried to sort through 3 boxes whenever I could find the time (usually whenever my favorite programs were on TV, so I could watch while I sorted). I also tried to do it when DH wasn't around, b/c he gets upset when I throw his stuff away, even when he hasn't seen or used it in years.

It takes awhile, but if you keep it to the 3-box, 3-pile system, it helps control the amount of stuff that ends up creeping out of the box room into the rest of the house. When you're done sorting, you can either stash all the Keep boxes in the closet and be done with it, or you can create places to put the stuff you kept (shelving, etc).

Good luck! I'm so glad I finally eliminated my box room. It's neat to have a sewing room now. I feel like we must be rich if we can afford an extra room just for sewing! (Okay, it's only a 3 bedroom house, but still....)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 9:11PM
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I had a similar problem after we moved. That's when I found this site, and then Flylady. I took CARLOADS to our nearest Goodwill. Every day I'd spend a little time out in the garage and put what I didn't want either into the trash, or into the back of the van. Had I saved it for a garage sale, I wouldn't have seen immediate results, and it was the immediate results that MOTIVATED me to keep going.

Talley, Flylady recently said the same thing you did about throwing old things in the trash rather than giving it to charity. I just tossed a bunch of my kids' old clothes inot the garbage - not worthy of a thrift store!


    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 1:17AM
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Ha! I know exactly how you feel, we moved a year ago too and there are still so many boxes. BUT, we have been making progress.

We started by getting shelving for one wall of the garage, because all our boxes were just piled up. (Had to pull boxes into the driveway to make room for shelves, just try to block off the driveway with your cars so you don't have people stopping thinking it's a garage sale!)

With stuff stacked on shelves, it made just enough space that we could move around and get things out. (It was a really tight space at first, just a little trail through the garage!)

Our method - grab a full box, an empty box, and a trash can. Go through the full box, anything for charity goes in the empty box, trash in the can, and go put away anything you want to keep (which hasn't been a lot!).

The charity box goes directly in the trunk. We try to do 3-4 boxes at a time and then make a run to Goodwill.

Still working on the garage, but the guestroom is now usable!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 12:36PM
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Yes -- so do One Box-A-Day. Have garbage ready for the "donate" and "trash." Take the paper and box for re-cycling.

And create a plan for the final "finished" room -- thats your goal.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 12:47PM
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I like the box a day idea! You could drag it out to your TV room and go through it while you relax in the evening. A box a day is 7 a week, and 30 in a month! Baby steps add up.

I also vote NO to the yard sale. Throw out the garbage, and donate the rest and be done with it.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 5:28PM
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I don't really want to get into the garage sale versus donate debate. I thought of another reason to make the effort for a garage sale. It's a great way to meet the neighbors. If the neighbors see you outside, most will at least make the effort to come over and say hi. At least they do in my neighborhood.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 5:21PM
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Another *in that mode* persona. Moved last April and the Fam Room is still full of boxes. In my defense I will say that it was our thought that addt'l cupboards would be reasonably quickly built in the kitchen & adjacent area BUT that has not yet happened. Our garage stores new appliances while one of our vehicles sits in the rain! It has taken quite a while to get out of *one track --> kitchen* mode and onto doing what we can elsewhere.

In addition to kitchen stuff, the FR also has FR stuff (that we can't use as it's too full) and Office stuff. The office stuff is another story still. (Read: The Domino Affect).

I've found it extremely frustrating and frankly quite debilitating to live with this. The vast majority of this stuff is stuff we do want although a little culling will happen along the way I'm sure.

However, having said all this, I guess it kinda depends upon what is in the boxes. In my boxes are stuff I'd really like to use (or know their location) but cannot. If you've no idea what's there then definitely the "one box a day" method suggested seems the wisest.

I'm definitely not a garage sale gal -- total waste of time IMHO (I'll meet my neighbors after I've found my mind - IYKWIM). Yes I have done it -- no it definitely wasn't worth the time invested.

I don't live in the US and thus don't have any tax advantages for donations but regardless it's throw out or donate around here.

I've found that, since I've *unfocused* on the kitchen and refocused on other areas, I do feel a great deal better as at least some area(s) I can point to/look at and feel I've accomplished something after all these months. :-)))

I do sympathize & know how overwhelming it can be. Let us know how you are doing.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 10:24PM
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LOL... If I'm going to meet new neighbors, I would much rather they NOT see the junk I'm trying to sell in a garage sale!

But if you decide to have one, remember to check with city hall to see what the rules are and if you need to buy a permit (we do--there are rules for keeping suburbia from turning into endless weekend garage sales).

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 5:25AM
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