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Packing To Move – Insights From A Professional Organizer

Packing To Move – Insights From A Professional Organizer

An Organizer’s Insight On Packing To Move

One of the hardest things about moving is achieving a balance between getting a head-start on the packing, having what you still need to live and function in the house before you move, and keeping a home worth showing.

As a Professional Organizer, I deal with packing for moving quite frequently. Many people find the packing and moving processes abhorrent and excruciating, making this one of the biggest stressors in anyone’s life. Thus, many times they rely on a Pro to deal with all that.

Here is some advice to ease the burden of the packing for the moving process. If there comes a time when you have to go through this, hopefully, being better informed and armed with some strategies will ease your pain.

Home Areas & Item Categories

Pay attention to the order, the how, and the what of your packing. The best thing to do when in the process of moving is to organize the home before you pack your move. Why is this? There are three main reasons:

(1) in organizing the home, you realize there is a lot you can let go of before moving (less effort and money to move)
(2) organizing the home prior to packing allows things that should be together, to be together. Then the packing happens logically, by categories. This makes the unpacking so much easier and home set up, faster
(3) no one likes seeing (or showing) a cluttered home for sale. Homes should be organized for showing. Shoving things in closets, cabinets, and drawers does not work. Visitors open these if they come with the house. If the contents in these spaces are disorganized, visitors immediately think the house lacks storage space. That is a big red flag in selling a home.

Note that if a moving company handles the move, they might have restrictions and limitations about how to pack and who does the packing. Due to insurance, they might need to do the packing instead of the client.

But whether you pack your move, or they do, following a particular order in the process and grouping items in a certain way for later packing will make everything easier.

The main thing to remember is that packing logically and per item category (not by room) is the name of the game. Therefore, although this article is divided by house areas, you will notice the crucial importance of item categories in the process.

Miscellaneous & Décor

Pack decorative and miscellaneous items first. Gather artwork, framed photos, Knick knacks, books, paintings throughout the whole house. Wrap frames and delicate items in bubble wrap. Place decorative pieces in medium-sized boxes so they aren’t too heavy. Also, pack so that the weight of the top pieces doesn’t crush the bottom items.

Packing a Move My Space Reclaimed LLC 300x277 - Packing To Move – Insights From A Professional OrganizerLiving Room/Media Room/Game Room

Most likely, your movers will take care of large electronics and furniture in that room. However, before moving day, you should empty the cabinets and drawers and allocate their contents in the groups, boxes, according to the item categories in the space. Examples of items in these areas are board games, DVDs, board games, CDs, smaller A/V equipment, toys, blankets, smaller electronics related to games, etc. So, you want to go throughout the house and gather all items that belong to any of these categories, so these items are packed together.

Pro Tip 1: Use small boxes for CDs and other living room items. The weight adds up fast — pack heavier items toward the bottom of the box and lighter items toward the top. Don’t exceed 50 pounds per box to make moving easier.

When a game room, living room, or media room includes crafts items, if you will have a dedicated crafts space in the new home, box crafts stuff separately and mark them as such. These boxes should land in your new crafts space when you move. If the new home does not have a dedicated crafts area, you might want to merge all crafts material with office supplies. In this case, take all crafts items to the current home’s office area to pack these items with office things.

Office

You might need many files and documents right until the day before the move. Set aside all documents you will need, and you can transfer the contents of your filing cabinet to banker’s boxes. Label these boxes. You will only need to add those files or documents to the boxes on moving day.

It is best to pack your desktop computer last unless you have the same access to information using your laptop or iPhone. Laptops can go with you in the car, so there’s no need to pack them in anything but their case.

If you have been diligent in keeping your paper files in order and have cleaned up your files every year, you are in the best shape possible in that area. If not, take care of that now. It’s in your best interest to avoid moving messy files that will need sorting later and would only make your move more expensive.

Linen & Coat Closets

Linen and coat closets usually contain lots of random things. Moving is the best time to see what we own, what we still want, and what won’t go with you. In the process, it is essential to consider the function of those items we keep.

The purpose of each item determines where that item should be stored. Now is the time to take each item where it should go, rather than pack everything in these closets together.

At the same time, determine if other items in the home should rather be in any of those closets. In that case, gather such things and merge them with the closet’s contents. Why? Because you want to pack together items serving the same purpose or belonging to a particular category. Packing this way leads to a faster and more logical unpacking process on the other end, as mentioned before.

Kitchen

The kitchen usually contains items that we accumulate for years and never use. Before packing, spend some time assessing what you use, need, and want. Get rid of duplicates and other things that are you do not use or want.

Pro Tip 2: Pack dishes, trays, cutting boards, and other flat items in boxes, vertically instead of flat. This way, they are less likely to crack. Use smaller boxes for dishes and utensils because these items are heavy. Place thin foam sheets between the plates. For china, use bubble packaging material. Cloth napkins, dish towels, and tablecloths are also helpful to cushion.

Pro Tip 3: Avoid newspaper, though. Newspaper leaves ink marks, and you do not want to have to wash every dish in your new home when you move in.

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Bedrooms

Most bedroom items can be packed well in advance of the move, except for the sheets and blankets on the bed and outfits you wear regularly.

There are many things we keep in our bedrooms that fall into the “miscellaneous” category. Examine those items. If anything belongs somewhere else, take that item or group of items to where they belong so they can be with their logical groups before packing. If you no longer need or want something, this is the time to let it go.

Bathrooms

Go through every toiletry product in your cabinets and discard unwanted or expired ones. Identify all hygiene and beauty products you will need until moving day and those in a box or bin, so they remain available for your use but are easy to grab and go on moving day.

Pro Tip 4: After this process, pack the rest of your toiletries in small boxes lined with plastic garbage bags, as toiletries can easily leak.

Pack all towels and linens that are not in use with other towels and linens found throughout the house, in one single category. This can also be packed in advance.

Pro tip 5: Keep a laundry bag handy for the few dirty clothes and towels used until the last minute.

Bedroom Closets

Do not wait until the last minute to pack your closet. Unfortunately, closets become storage spaces for all kinds of things, and we forget about them because these items hide behind clothes.

Start organizing your closet ahead of time before your move so you can decide about those items that don’t belong in the space. Place those things with related stuff and where they should have been in the home. Then, once in the new house, find the logical, permanent place for those items (do not place them back in the closet!).

 The use of wardrobe boxes makes packing clothes easier — transfer the clothes from the closet to the box, hanging them on the bar. There is no need to remove hangers, which facilitates unpacking your wardrobe later.

Pro Tip 6: Protect folded clothes by placing them in a large plastic bag before boxing. Then, if the boxes get wet in transit, the plastic will protect your clothes.

Organized Garage by My Space Reclaimed LLC 300x225 - Packing To Move – Insights From A Professional OrganizerGarage

Before you cringe, let me say that you can tackle the garage with ease and grace.

Start by trashing everything that you can discard. There is usually a lot of trash in garages. That will make the process easier. Then, take all paints and chemicals to a specialized recycling facility. If paint cans have lived in the garage for years, they are no longer in good shape. Also, paint is specific to the house- you won’t need it in your new place. One idea is to take pictures of each can lid, so you keep a record of paint formulas and brands for the new homeowner.

Moving companies don’t transport chemicals and paints, but you’ll be better off buying new products, so you start in your with a clean, fresh, new garage area and supplies. Also, these items are heavy, and moving companies charge by weight. So probably it is less expensive to buy new garage products.

For this same reason, you want to clean up your tool chest or toolbox to keep what you need and use. Repair and building equipment are bulky and heavy and will substantially increase moving costs. You will be amazed at the many things you can let go, sell, and even donate to places like Habitat for Humanity during this purging process.

Holiday Décor

Now is the ideal time to take inventory of your holiday decoration. We usually store holiday decor in a garage or attic. So, see what works or not, what will fit your new place, and what can be donated or trashed.

Organize all items to keep in plastic, labeled bins with lids. Those bins will probably go inside moving boxes for the move, but the totes will protect their contents. Once at the new place, you will remove the boxes and place the containers in your garage shelving system, attic, or storage unit.

Treat any other things you keep in your garage the same as the holiday décor category (organized, relevant contents, in well-labeled plastic bins). You will see how manageable the garage is when you tackle it methodically.

Pets

Some pet items such as grooming supplies and extra toys and additional dishes can all be packed in advance. Ensure to leave out anything needed for your pets until moving day and during the moving process, such as kennels accessories, special toy(s), treats, etc. Ensure your pets are safe during moving day, including keeping them locked away when movers are in and out of the house to prevent them from running away.

Important Things To Remember

In summary, here are some things to remember for packing each space of the home:

  • Before starting the packing process, it would make sense to organize the home – during the organization process, items find their logical homes, and things of the same kind come together, making it easier to pack logically.
  • Purge as you go.
  • Get all items of the same category or use throughout the house and pack them together.
  • Pack item categories with your new home in mind – think about where the things will go.
  • Label each box with the name of the room where they will go in your new home (not where they came from).
  • Using a box number system, create a contents inventory for each box in a master file.

Creating a plan and starting the process ahead of time are crucial elements in making the packing process less stressful for you and your family. The less stress you face in this phase means a more enjoyable transition to your new home.

 

When Emotions Impede a Clutter-Free Life

When Emotions Impede a Clutter-Free Life

Emotions might impede your efforts to live a clutter-free life. There is usually an emotion associated with people’s resistance to part with stuff that no longer has a specific role in their lives. Let’s look at some of these emotions that might be obstructing your efforts to live clutter-free.

  1. When you must keep stuff for their sentimental value 

Some items do have sentimental value. When you can keep them in a particular place of honor, that is not a problem. But having too many of these sentimental items, or that everything is so unique, the truth is that nothing is. You won’t pay enough attention to each particular item to honor that special status. Special items get lost in the crowd, and instead of evoking sentimental value, those items become annoyances.

  1. When you can’t get rid of items you received as gifts

Have you been a hostage of unwanted gifts? You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you received as a gift, whether you want it or not, or regardless of not having a proper space to home the item. This guilt probably arises because you don’t want to hurt the gift-giver’s feelings. However, if you follow the same pattern in many instances, you end up with a home where you feel unhappy, given the clutter comprised of so many things you’d rather not have around.

Your home should be your sanctuary, not a storage place for unwanted items. It is essential to learn to separate objects from your feelings for the gift giver. You can acknowledge the gift as an expression of their love for you, but that does not mean the item must remain like a subconscious point of contention between you two. It is also beneficial to look at the matter from the perspective of the gift giver. For that, read our blog about the subject: What Do You Give When You Give A Gift

  1. When stuff represents unfulfilled dreams

Some people don’t want to get rid of things that might symbolize the life or experiences they wished they had but never did. It is common to hold on to things representing what we wish we had done. Karen Kingston calls this “aspirational clutter”.

A clear example is crafting. The amount of new crafts supplies and unfinished projects we find in homes is enormous. However, people can’t let any of those crafts supplies go because in doing so, they would accept that they don’t have time, desire, or the talent to do those crafts. But your home should reflect who you are now, support your goals and be the launching pad to your future. When you hold on to past dreams, you have little to no room for the future. Let go and rest assured that if it is meant to be (that you live those dreams sometime in the future), it will be.

  1. When you paid top dollar for the items

You spend money when you buy something, not when you get rid of it. Keeping something because it costs a lot will not bring back the money spent. Besides, there are many ways for something to fulfill its mission in our lives. When it is time to let that thing go, think about the value it brought to you, recognize it accomplished its mission, and let it free to enhance the lives of others.

Keeping objects that clutter our lives compounds the problem. These items take an emotional toll on you, rob you of time, and cost money. Such things require that you spend time caring for them and money paying for the space they take up in your home or even a storage unit. It all boils down to forgiving yourself for past money mistakes or accepting that not everything continues to have a high value over the years. Understanding this will allow you to get past the emotions and part with the object without guilt.

  1. When you fear you might need the stuff in the future

The fear of needing something in the future and not having it comes from the primal fear of not having enough. It comes from not trusting yourself or others to provide for you in the future. If you could replace the item with a couple of hours of work, let it go. There’s a point and time where you’ve got to take a leap of faith and trust in yourself and your loved ones to help you with things instead of thinking you’re all on your own with no resources or skills.

  1. When you feel the mess is never-ending 

When a task is too daunting, it is hard even to start and much more challenging to see its end. This feeling is a widespread occurrence when it comes to decluttering. It also encompasses the phenomenon of “perfection paralysis.” Some people would not start a project unless they are confident the result will be perfect. Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case; thus, they never start the project.

When a task seems impossibly hard or the desired result unachievable, it is helpful to divide the project into smaller parts and conquer it in chunks. If this still proves too hard to handle, you might want to engage a Professional Organizer to guide you through the process. Having some guidance in the form of a project manager, coach, or even body double can help you see a more straightforward path to completing your project.

If you can identify your source of discomfort with decluttering, you can make significant breakthroughs. You can deal with your emotions, move on, and get rid of the stuff cluttering your life. Understanding and addressing the source of discomfort in parting with things you no longer need can also remove a layer of guilt and emotional baggage you may not have even realized you were carrying around.

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

Organizing Is A Lifestyle

Many say they need to become more organized, especially each January. Some will even call an Organizer. However, those unwilling to adopt new habits will always struggle with clutter. No matter how easy or difficult that initial push to get the home in top shape might be. That is just a start. Without maintenance, that initial organization is just a waste of time and money. Organizing is not a project; it is a lifestyle. So, here are 11 key habits of an organized lifestyle. These will make a big difference in your home and how you live.

1. Make The Bed Every Morning

Making your bed makes the room feel in order and makes you feel accomplishment from the time you get up. In addition, this action helps you face the date with a can-do attitude.

2. Keep A Donation Bag In Each Closet

Having a bag for things you no longer need or want allows you to make those decisions when you think about them. You will have a designated place for these items and won’t need to remember to gather them later. When the bag is full, schedule a donation run. The moment you put on a piece of clothing that you feel is no longer suitable or is ripped or screams dated, instead of hanging the clothing back (or God forbid, throw it on the bed or a chair), you will place that item in the bag.

3. Create A Home For Everything In Your House

You will decide where things should go based on their use pattern in the home. The important thing is to assign one specific place to each category of items, preferably. If using an item requires storing it in more than one space, formally set those spaces up. Also, labeling storage areas allows everyone to know where to put things back. Finally, remember that If anything can go anywhere, everything will go everywhere. 

4. Put Things Back In Their Place

To maintain an organized home, everyone must put things back where they belong every time. Hence the importance of labeling spaces until everyone knows the proper place of things. “I will put this here for the moment” does not work. It never has. It never will.

5. Shop Intentionally

The words “free,” “save,” and “discount” act like a drug on the brain. Please don’t fall for it. Before you buy, ask yourself if you need the item and have the space to store it. If not, please walk away. The less you own, the more living area you enjoy in your own home, and the less you have to take care of.

6. Remove Extra Packaging 

When bringing home bags or boxes, remove the contents and strip those items of outer packing as much as possible. That is making the stuff truly yours. It also makes the item(s) ready to be organized within your home. This process is a critical step we follow when organizing a space. You want to have everything as visible and ready to be used as possible. Removing all unnecessary packaging also saves lots of space and makes all items of the same kind look the same. The more homogeneous your collection, the more functional the system is and the prettier your areas look.

7. Discard Trash At Once

Entertained garbage makes up for most of the clutter in every household. If you commit to removing the packaging of what you bring home, then go the distance and trash the garbage instead of allowing all the extra packing to linger around your home until who knows when. 

8. Process Mail Efficiently

Keep a recycle bin, a shredder, and a tray or sorter to process the mail. Preferably have your filing cabinet where you process the mail. Most of the mail you receive is junk. Throw it away before it can clutter your home. Also, be a knowledgeable shredder; only those documents with account numbers, social security numbers, medical information, or bank offers need to be shredded. Having a shredder right where you sort the mail allows you to take care of this immediately. Too often, I find boxes full of documents that need shredding cluttering my clients’ lives. Over concerns about safety compounds the problem. When we do not know what we should destroy, we accumulate more paper over time. Also, it is critical to have a mail sorting and filing system that works for you. This way, you process bills on time, and things needing filing won’t float around the home. Every piece of paper to keep needs a file.

9. Plan Ahead

Take a few minutes to prepare for the next day at the end of each day. Evaluate your “to do” list and set out everything you need to go through your planned errands the next day.

10. Practice Strategic Scheduling 

Scheduling is logistics 101. College business programs include courses on administration and logistics, with algorithms to determine the optimal sequence of events to complete a project or the most efficient routes to get around. Of course, you don’t need to go to such an extent, but you can gain significant efficiency and add more time to each day with some planning ahead.

11. Clean Out Bags Daily

Whether it is your handbag, weekender, kids’ sports bags, or suitcases, emptying the contents of all bags allows you to assess what needs replacement, needs to be washed, trashed, or placed somewhere else. This practice is particularly beneficial in helping you plan for the following day or week. If you are a paper kind of person and love to write little reminders and notes to yourself throughout the day, emptying your bag consistently helps you remember that idea you wanted to pursue. Those reminders might be the start of more significant plans in the scope of your life.

Consistency Is Key

These 11 steps might not seem like much, but when combined and executed consistently, they will show a big difference in your life.

How to Hire A Professional Organizer And What To Expect From Them

How to Hire A Professional Organizer And What To Expect From Them

How To Hire A Professional Organizer

After many years of unrealized New Year’s resolutions and failed attempts to get organized on your own, you have decided to make it happen. You have chosen to hire a Professional Organizer! Well, you will be amazed about how working with an Organizer can transform even your perspective in life.

What Kind Of Organizing Services Do You Need?

Some Organizers offer a wide range of services, while others work a specialized niche. For example, some Organizers work with corporations rather than residential clients. Others specialize in specific areas such as home offices or closets. Finally, some Organizers specialize in working with clients with brain-based conditions, including the chronically disorganized and individuals with ADD.

Where Should You Begin Your Search?

  • Use NAPO’s Professional Organizer Directory to search for a professional organizer by type of service, distance from your location, or both. 
  • You can google Professional Organizers in (your area).
  • Use resources such as FindMyOrganizer.com, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor.com

How Do You Decide Who Is Right For You?

It would help to speak to several Organizers before choosing the one to with you. If you prefer to meet in person before making a decision, note that some Organizers offer free consultations, while others charge for the consultation and credit that fee toward services if hired. Yet others charge separately for assessments and services.

What Fees Should You Expect To Pay?

As with most professions, fees vary widely based on experience, geographic location, and competition. For example, many Professional Organizers charge by the hour, while others charge by the project. Therefore, it would probably be best to establish a budget first and decide what feels most comfortable.

Avoid choosing an Organizer strictly by price. Instead, focus on value by finding a professional with a personality you click with and whose skill set matches your needs. That person is most likely to deliver the results you expect in the shortest amount of time.

What Questions Should You Ask?

One of the first questions is whether the Organizer is a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). Membership to NAPO demonstrates that the Organizer is committed to continuing education and an industry code of ethics.

Other professional associations directly related to the organizing industry include Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), and the Australasian Association of Professional Organizers (AAPO).

An experienced Organizer will ask many questions about you, your work style, what you are looking for, and the issues you believe have thwarted your best attempts to get organized in the past. In addition, they want to get to know you, understand your objectives, and determine whether they will be a good fit for you. 

Therefore, it is in your best interest to be as candid and straightforward as possible about what you want to achieve.

So here are some suggestions of questions to ask a potential Organizer:

  • What kinds of organizing projects do you do?
  • Who is your typical/usual client?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you have any training or hold any certifications in organizing or related areas?
  • Can you describe your organizing process or describe a typical working session?
  • How long have you been in the organizing business?
  • What is your fee structure?
  • Do you work with a written contract?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • I have tried to get organized before. How will this be different?

What To Expect From An Organizer

Professional organizers should be nonjudgmental, encouraging, and supportive. They should be good listeners and recommend various suggestions, alternatives, and solutions to create the system that will work best for you.

If you start working with a Professional Organizer and along the way decide that you are not comfortable with their style, you are rarely under obligation to continue the relationship. Be sure to let the Organizer know how you feel. More than likely, they will be happy to recommend a colleague.

A Professional Organizer strives to increase the organization of your space and its functionality, so you can do more with your time and live a happier, better life. This person is skilled at creating systems that work for you. But for this to happen, the Organizer needs to learn about your preferences, habits, and style.

The Deep Dive

The Organizer will invite you to have a deeper conversation about why you want this project done. Why is this space the way it is today? What circumstances brought the area(s) to its current state? Are those circumstances still present, or will they return? What are you doing to ensure those situations or circumstances won’t come back?

Failing to address these aspects might result in the organized areas returning to their previous state sooner than you imagine. Ideally, the root causes of the problems in the space are analyzed and corrected during the organizing process.

You might not be ready to engage in that conversation yet. It can be a difficult conversation to have. You might not want to discover or discuss the cause(s) behind the disorganization bothering you. If this is the case, expectations need adjustment. The long-term results of your project might be different from what you desire.

There’s Always An Option

However, you can always engage the Organizer’s help in maintaining the space to avoid reversing the progress made; a good option until you feel ready to tackle the root cause of the problem head-on. And when that time comes, your Organizer will be there to hold your hand.

When your project is due to a lack of time or availability on your part to maintain an organized space, or if you need an Organizer to help you move, or after a renovation project, for example, this professional can help you all the same. In this case, expect the Organizer to provide a specialized service to improve your space’s order, functionality, and aesthetics.

Organizing takes strategy, planning, thought, skills, and time. An experienced and accomplished Professional Organizer will seek a lasting transformation of the space and the client’s life.

The Grass Is Greener?

The Grass Is Greener?

I think we can all agree we like this picture.

What would this place look like with dirty dishes on the counter, some lights burned out or mixed colors, plastic wraps and carton boxes on chairs, an overflown trashcan, and toiletry items on the counters? Magic gone!

I like featuring beautiful interiors and exciting buildings on my feed to get my viewers acquainted with their aspirational beings.
It does not matter what you own or how expensive your home is. No design or expensive stuff will ever stand out in a dirty and cluttered space.

Who doesn’t like a hotel room? Of course, we all like hotel rooms because they represent a new place, and the experience is out of our routine. But I’d bet the neatness and simplicity of a hotel room have a lot to do with how we experience that space. That neatness and simplicity is no accident — it is by design.

Think about the magic that a staged model home exerts. Yet, even if you purchased that same model home you liked so much, as soon as those disjointed, mixed-up boxes arrived on moving day, the magic would be gone before you could realize what happened.

The thing is that no matter where you live or what you own, it is possible to have a place that excites you to gasp. You can be in love with your own home! It takes attention and intention.

Yet, many miss this opportunity, taking their own home for granted. They stop paying attention to details; forget to repair broken items; use their home as storage space (instead of living space). When we stop paying attention to our environment and what we keep, clutter creeps up.

And we stop paying attention when we live mindlessly. And it is easier to get to that point when we have so much stuff that we can no longer pay attention to anything. Nothing seems unique anymore. Consequently, we turn blind to mess and beauty alike.

That makes me think of family relationships; after some years of marriage, some people start taking their partners for granted, stop trying, get bored, and don’t care. What if we tried to keep the magic alive?

Is the grass greener elsewhere? I don’t think so. So, keep your grass green and enjoy it.

Contact My Space Reclaimed, LLC for inspiration. We can’t wait to show you that home you never knew you had!


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