Moving is stressful; even an exciting event like buying a home or upgrading to a bigger space can cause apprehension and anxiety. Combine the start of a new adventure with a mountain of “stuff” to sort, pack, and transport, and moving becomes a daunting task. Who hasn’t, especially as a younger person, moved to a new space and, in the process of packing, discovered boxes that had not yet been unpacked from their last move? But it doesn’t have to be like that, and the concept to move like a minimalist can help make moving far less trying.
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Minimalism is, at its essence, a way to avoid a life filled with excesses, including those of material possessions, and focus on those possessions that have a purpose or a meaning in our lives. It is not so much about maintaining an ascetic lifestyle as it is about focusing on what is truly valuable and important.
Here are some moving tips to make the transition from the old home to the new as smooth as possible. Whether going at it alone or using a professional moving service, this advice is an excellent way to de-clutter and streamline in advance, making the move itself, and unpacking on the other end, far less taxing.
Start With the Non-Essentials
First, determine those items to which you will not need access until after you move. Making a list will help, and it should include books and collectibles, seasonal decorations and outdoor furniture, hobby supplies, household decor, toys and games, and any other nonessential items.
Sort Your Stuff
For this step, set up two boxes and a big trash can. Write “packing” on the first box, and “donate” on the other.
Take a look at the things in front of you; then determine which of these things you absolutely cannot live without in your new home. Choose things that hold significance for you, that you love and use almost daily.
This part will be difficult. We tend to store things to which we’ve attached a sentimental value, but this is a notion that should be challenged. Ask yourself this: If the item were truly something you loved, why wouldn’t it have been on display and/or in use in your current home every day? It is not a betrayal to remove clutter from your life, even if some of that clutter is an unused gift from a loved one. The person has probably forgotten about it if they haven’t seen it in ten years. And how often do you really dig through your attic to flip through your middle school yearbook?
Once you’ve separated your must-haves, take a look at the rest. Determine what is the best place for these – donations or trash – and put them in the corresponding container.
Organize as you Pack
Write the name of each room in large letters with a Sharpie, then circle it, before you begin to fill each box. This will make it much simpler for the moving service to determine what goes where when you arrive at your destination. On one side of the box, make a general list of what’s inside (i.e., Kitchen: baking supplies, serving spoons).
Set aside a large space to stack boxes that are filled, and, once each box is completed, seal it and add it to the stack. This will keep your workspace free of clutter.
Skip the Yard Sale
And the garage sale. Just donate your clutter and be done with it. Yard and garage sales are very rarely worth the time and energy they take, and they just cause more clutter as you continue to hold on to the things you already decided, in the first step, to toss. Craigslist electronics or other large items as “cash only, priced to sell” but, other than that, immediately donate the items with which you’ve decided you can part.
Include Your Child
If you have a child over the age of two, include them in the packing and minimizing. Tell them that they may choose ten toys (or whatever will fit inside a shoebox) to play with until you move, then pack the rest away. Once you get where you’re going, you will probably be surprised at how little your child is content to have in the way of toys. Making it a game will add to their enthusiasm.
Don’t Forget the Closets
Pack enough clothing for a two-week vacation. Then, as you go through the rest of your wardrobe, take a hard look at what’s left, and be fearless about paring down. If you haven’t worn it, or thought about wearing it, in six months, donate it.
Following these moving tips will set you on the path to a more clutter-free life, not to mention an easier move. And you will still be surrounded by the things that truly hold a place in your heart.