I don't start out by destroying my entire home. Packing away all the items that make a home feel warm and cozy is not where to start. I start out with the small nooks and crannies. Cleaning out one drawer. Defining boxes for like items. Letting go of the items used a little.
Bank boxes have become my go-to favorites. They are different from standard packing boxes, and way sturdier, making them perfect for the really important papers and keepsakes.
Instead of waiting until the last minute before a move I encourage all my clients to pack, little by little, defining what will go for donation, what will go to the new location, and what can just go in the trash. This means getting into seldom remembered cabinets and forgotten storage bins.
Most homes can be downsized and packed up within six weeks. This allows less stress to be felt in the month or weeks leading up to a move. It gives you the opportunity to sell items, start to pack items, donate items, or simply throw things in the trash.
Heavily cluttered homes take upwards of 8 weeks. My suggestion is, as soon as it starts to look like there's an impending move, life change, or significant event in your life, expect to reevaluate what lives in your space.
Everytime this process begins, clients are surprised when they find their long forgotten treasures along the way. However, they also get surprised by emotional landmines. Items from the loss of a loved one or a missed opportunity in life.
My personal emotional landmine is in a coffee pot that once belonged to my grandmother. I loved my grandmother, so of course I should love everything she owned right? My aunt gave me this coffee pot about 15 years ago. Having mentioned that I liked it to my Aunt, when she wanted it taken it off her hands, it was “gifted” to me.
Now I have the burden of storing, cleaning, polishing, and protecting it. If, I can be honest with all of you, I don't care for the coffee pot. And one more thing, I don't even drink coffee! Crazy huh! And yet this item has lived in my (many) homes for over 15 years.
This is the issue when you're coming across many years worth of Forgotten memories. That's why I'm suggesting it's all done a little at a time.
Just like I tell my clients, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Clutter is just unmade decisions. So once it's time to clear the clutter, or pack it, there are a lot of decisions to be made.
When moving, make sure to plan for time to process the value and emotional weight of all your belongings. If it took 20 years for all of these items to accumulate, you should assume it's going to take a little time to go through them all.
Remember, Organizing is an ongoing process. As your seasons in life change, so do your feelings towards your belongings. Something that may have felt significant 6 months after a loss, may not feel the same two (or in my case 15) years down the line. That's why it's important to make sure that you're constantly pruning your garden of possessions.
Now it's time for me to prune my own garden. So back to de-cluttering for me...