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Lightening The Load

As Published In Professional Organizers Blog Carnival
Lightening The Load

A friend of mine is in the process of relocating her home 3000 miles away — she is really struggling. Moving is challenging, even when you’re organized, and more so if you’re attempting to haul tons of clutter with you. So I’m going to spend a couple of weeks talking about ways to make moving easier.

A Great Opportunity

When I tell people what a freeing experience moving is, they usually look at me like I’m crazy. “What do you mean freeing? It’s the most exhausting thing I’ve ever been through!” While there are stresses associated with relocating, each move offers you the opportunity to lighten the load, to clean out, to start over fresh without all the clutter. When I was in college, I moved at least once a year, and sometimes once a semester. You’d better believe I only took the bare essentials with me — I wasn’t going to waste my time packing up junk I didn’t need! If I didn’t use it regularly, it was either sold in a garage sale, given to charity, or tossed in the trash.

Unfortunately, once we become more settled we tend to accumulate things that we don’t use and that don’t serve a purpose in our lives. It’s easier, sometimes, to just stick it in the closet and say, “I’ll deal with that later,” than make a decision. But when we move, we are forced to pull all of those dark demons out of the shadows and confront them face on. So as you handle and contemplate and pack each of your favorite treasures, ask yourself a few of the following questions.

Is It Easily Replaceable?

You may not have enough room on the truck for everything — so think about all the things you own that are relatively inexpensive, plentiful, and easy to replace (plants, canned goods, cleaning supplies, etc.) Is it worth the added expense, renting a bigger moving truck, just so you can fit in a few potted plants, 15 bags of charcoal, and a bunch of buy-one-get-one canned veggies you got on sale at the supermarket? Give them to your neighbors as a going away present and get more when you reach your new location!

Sometimes it’s actually healthier to leave certain items behind. Volatile chemicals such as paint, gasoline, and certain cleaning fluids can become a real hazard when packed on a moving truck. And trying to empty your freezer into a bunch of coolers for a long journey is just asking for food poisoning! It’s best to just let these things go, and replace them (if you need to) when you arrive at your new destination.

Of course, if we are talking about an expensive or hard-to-find item, you are certainly justified in thinking twice before ditching it. But even with things you think you couldn’t live without, you always have to consider cost versus benefit. How much will it cost to transport to your new home? How much does it weigh and will it be difficult to carry? Is it bulky — will it require extra movers or helpers to get it into your new home? How much space does it take up on the truck and how does that break down into dollars per square foot? Will you have to buy extra insurance to cover any potential loss or damage? Will you have to put it in rented storage when you reach your destination? It may cost you more (in time, space, energy, or money) to keep the item than to replace it if and when you ever need it.

Does It Belong To You?

You’ve had your neighbor’s hedge trimmer for 3 years and your sister’s favorite casserole dish since the annual church social. And what about that library book that was due last fall? Why take someone else’s clutter with you to your new home? This is the perfect time to weed out those borrowed items that have taken up permanent residence at your house. Returning things that don’t belong to you is incredibly cathartic — even if you have to face late fees or a bit of teasing from the other person about “stealing” their stuff, it’s a great way to achieve closure with your old environment before you move on to the new.

If you want to avoid this problem in the future, set up a receptacle (crate, basket, box) in your new home for borrowed items. When you’re finished using it, put the item to return in this “out box” rather than storing it away in your cabinets or closet. Put a tag on each item reminding you who it belongs to, and make a date to get it back to its rightful owner. You’re more likely to return it in a timely fashion, and this offers you a great opportunity to schedule coffee or dinner with a friend!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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