Moving as a way to purge?

alisonJune 24, 2009

This is the flip side of another post I've made here about my upcoming move from a small apartment to a big house. I want to do what I can to get organized and stay organized, to help me handle this unprecedented leg room.

Engineers says one of the best ways to interupt the "cr#p in, cr#p out" syndrome is control what you're putting into tthe equation. So, in the few weeks I have to pack up and move, that's what I'm trying to do.

My friend that's moving with me has suggested that I pack no unexamined items. No boxes of papers I plan to sort later, for example. No bags of fabric or yarn scraps I have no immediate plans for, simply because I will now have room to store it, and may want it sometime in the future.

I've decided I'm not moving anything I don't use (wok, anyone?) even if I tell myself I'll get rid of it later. and I'm not moving anything broken -- which means I'm scurrying around, trying to fix the sewing machine and the shop vac.

Anything you wish you'd done when you moved to reduce your load? Anything you regret doing?

Appreciate any advice -- I've picked up a lot of good tips here over the years!

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Moving can be a very effective way to control the number of possessions, especially if you do it often, move across country and have to pay the movers yourself!

We moved A LOT when I was a kid. (13 schools in 12 years; 3 in 1 year a couple of times!) My father was more of a collector than my mother, but even his sentimental stuff was neatly contained in trunks. The three of us were better and faster at packing things like fine china than most moving companies. I just didn't understand people who dreaded moving and talked about all of the stuff in the basement and the attic, etc. Well, as an adult I lived in the same house for 9 years. Boy, oh boy, did I understand then! As part of a divorce I moved out. Much to my dismay, the house looked better afterwards. Over the years we had gone from a seriously underfurnished house to one that had enough furniture for 2 houses! Egad.

I now find it helpful to pretend I'm moving. I pick a time when I know that I have to time to purge and tell myself that I'm moving my pick-a-room to a-distant-state-with-similar-climate and the movers are arriving in h hours, so hop to it.

I do believe that some of us have a emotional need for some items that we can't readily justify. To that end, I have variation on the dozen trunks of sentimental stuff that my father hauled all over the world until he was able to let go of it bit by bit over the years. I have a sturdy box for "stuff". I can put anything I want in the box. No justification; no guilt. The only rule is that the "stuff" has to fit in the box. I may have to toss something to add something. Oddly enough, I have even been able to reduce the size of the box over the years. I can't think of anything that I regret getting rid of.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 11:59PM
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We're in the process of putting our house on the market and building a new one. Part of my justification for gettting rid of things is "Will it look good in the new house?". My mom went through my cooking and baking items yesterday and pulled out a pile that she says are embarrassing. They will go. Today we will go through the dishes and cups. I know I have a lot to donate or throw away, but I hate making that choice. I'm just going to keep the best stuff out for now while I'm showing the house and let mom decide what she thinks needs to go.

Organizing is an ongoing process. I'm just glad that I've been doing a little bit of it all along.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 9:34AM
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I moved in and out of several apartments in my twenties. Each time, I went thru my belongins and chucked things I didn't need or were duplicates. Each time I moved, I threw out dozens of margarine tubs, stuff like that.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 10:29AM
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I admire your effort to try to make your move as clean and clutter free as possible. Why bother to pack and move it if it's going to turn out to be useless in your new home? If it's useless before the move, will it be any more useful later? You are asking yourself some good, hard questions. It will save you aggravation later, when you won't have to figure out what to do with unopened, unused boxes of STUFF.

But don't be too rigid with your rules, either. If you don't have time to fix the sewing machine before you move, don't let THAT be the reason you get rid of it. If it has a place in your new home and your future life, then keep it, and deal with it later. And don't let the extra space in your new home give you license to store it away in a corner and forget about your promise to fix the sewing machine. Keep it on your "to do" list.

I wish you all the best!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 10:43AM
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Purging ideas are good. Think of a lot of it as decisions and sorting you needed to do anyway, but are using the move to motivate and move up your timetable. The same as using a party to clean and straighten up.

There can be a problem with tossing stuff that is not what you like now, but for which you have no current replacement or replacement PLAN or make-do plan. What I mean is, avoid tossing out stuff that will make you want to run to the store as soon as you are in your new home and buy a replacement that may also not be what you want. That's not the same as giving yourself permission to buy new towels for the bathroom--it just means, keep enough essential items, like towels that aren't pristine but teke enough to live with, so you can take your time and shop for best value replacements. That also might mean saving a banged-up bedside table that does the job, until you have decided on new furniture. Or instead, you can think, I don't want to pay to move this hunk of junk, but my PLAN will be to use the (cardtable, board on books, etc)for my bedside table until I refurnish my bedroom. Or, you may already have identified a new set of dishes, cookware or similar that is just what you want and need, and are ready to purchase as soon as in new home, so will toss the old now.

New homes tend to stimulate a huge buying impulse--it's amazing how so many things no longer "look" right, so that's what I'm getting at--you'll want to be in control of that, according to your time and budget and the goals you have for your living spaces. You have to watch for the impulse to get "something" that looks better than what you've got, or you'll often get something still not quite right, but used up your $$.

So the purge works especially well for tossing duplicates, saving the best of the towels, living with one set of sheets (wash and put back on), shredding outdated financial documents, giving yourself permission to toss an unfinished hobby item, tossing gew-gaws that no longer appeal, and so forth.

There are some cool books and articles also on furnishing new home, first home, and ways to focus on basics, then add extra; and/or multipurpose items that will be used in LR to start, then be used in study, or DR furniture that later goes to porch, and so forth, ways to make space look lively when you've only got a sofa and one chair! Sometimes can be a little hokey and contrived, but speaks to idea of purchasing items that have really good value and usefulness and not just to fill corners, and living with some empty space for awhile in order to acquire really nice furnishings and having a purchasing plan over time.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 11:52AM
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My best advice here is to start packing as early as possible, that way you have time to go through stuff without the frenzy of counting the days and the to-do lists necessary to move.

I packed my stuff room-by-room, so I set empty boxes in each room and would work on things over time. I packed in phases & evaluated everything as I packed.

In your bedroom, right now you could go through your out-of-season clothing. Evaluate everything, pack & purge, and it's out of your way.

Evaluate & pack up your decor. You can function without decor.

I'm on board with Frankie about the linens if you determine you probably have extras. Wash & pack up your definite better/keeper linens for the new place, and only keep out & use now the older & less desired items. You will either decide to get rid of the less desired things, or can use them as packing/stuffing when it comes to packing up delicate dishes and/or glass things as moving day gets closer.

Go under your kitchen sink & pull out your favorite cleaning products you WILL want & use. Pack them up & get them out of your way. From here on out, use your least-favorite cleaners to use them up...after all, I'm sure you will be doing a lot of cleaning as moving day gets closer.

I guess my point is to start early so you're not overwhelmed & freaked out because you ran out of time.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 7:31PM
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At one of our moves, we knew we did not want our old bed frame, did not want to move it with us, but had not decided on a new one. We knew we could live for awhile with the box spring and mattress on the floor, so we did (for a pretty good while!) This was just not an urgent decorating issue for us. Then when we found the bed frame we wanted, it was delivered and set up and no old frame to wrestle with and recycle. But we kept other not-so-great items that met needs that we thought were more important to our daily organization and function so we would feel okay about that. As in, it was important to keep a comfortable but run-down chair and a small table for reading with a cup of tea at hand, though we knew we would want to upgrade at some point.

These issues are different for each person, but are a lot like the advice (in your other thread, maybe?) about try to reproduce your most basic routines in the new house so you won't be in a fizz.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 10:40AM
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As I put items in a box I ask myself, "Will I be happy to see this when I open the box on the other end?" If it will feel like a chore to unpack and store something, you probably don't need/want it anyway.

And I'll reiterate what others have said. Put off buying lots of new "stuff" for awhile until you catch your breath and can think about it. Enjoy the empty space!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Thanks all for the advice!

I've been going thru room by room and packing things in logical clusters of stuff. I'm finding a lot of like items, duplicates and missing pieces, which is great!

I'm also finding an awful lot of stuff I can part with. It's a Freecycle bonanza around here -- every day for the last week and a half I've packed up a bag of things -- paperbacks, for example, or flannel pieces, or the aforementioned wok -- and posted it on Freecycle to be picked up in the next 48 hours. Then I leave the bag on the front porch when I go to work.

I've been able to take extra care by spacing out the packing. As I packed up 12 boxes of books this weekend, I took a rag dipped in a little lavender oil and dusted off each book. Keeps away tthe bugs, and boy, is my new study gonna smell sweet!

Thanks again, all.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 6:29PM
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(any Cooking Forum swap items in there by chance? Ducking and running for cover.... good luck on your move!!!)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 5:30PM
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Are you kidding? No way!!

And your tagine is gonna be so proud sitting atop the Craftsman style built in oak cabinets in the dining room....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 7:13PM
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Oh yeah I forgot about that! Did I give you a p-touch labeling thing too?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Yep! I went thru an orgy of labelling when I first got it, but have used it at least several times a month since.

I've already printed out the labels for the new mailbox, and I expect it will get a work out in the new place, as I finally have a whole crafft room for toys!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 5:14AM
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Even if you're not moving, you can go in each room, look at every single object and determine "If I were moving, would I take this with me? Yes to big pices of furniture and things of real value, like jewelry, maybe to books, no to magazine and tsotchkes (sp?) that don't really mean much. In other words, pretend you're packing to leave and decide what's valuable and what's not. My friend Betsy goes one step further-If I were leaving my husband, what things would I take with me?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 4:27PM
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where you run into trouble, is when it's a corp move, and you have all these lovely moving guys who come in and pack everything, lol...

now i've been in this house 22 years....and you can imagine what i

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 5:53PM
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