Would You Keep This If You Were Moving?

I think it’s pretty clear that we will keep accumulating stuff until we run out of room. Sometimes we continue even after we’ve run out of room. (That’s usually when people contact a Professional Organizer.)

If you’re someone, like me, who has an abundance of of storage space in your home, then it may take a while before you run out of space. So I’ve developed a question that helps me identify things I should let go of even if I have the space to keep them: “Would I keep this if I were moving?”

Relocating is a great opportunity to revisit everything you own and decide if it has a place in your future life. Unfortunately, many people panic prior to moving and don’t leave themselves enough time to do that. They think they will make those decisions when they are unpacking. But getting resettled into a new home is even more stressful than preparing to vacate your old home, so those decisions don’t get made.

I’m in a quasi-relocating situation right now. I’m about to do some upgrades to my home. This will require us to start living in our second bedroom while work is being done to our bedroom and en suite bath. We haven’t moved in yet, but I’ve been making preparations. I’ve already moved a couple of bookcases from our bedroom to the second bedroom since they will just be in the way of the renovation. This required us to take everything off those shelves, which meant giving them a thorough review. A lot of books got donated — and a lot of magazines and sheet music got recycled — as a result of that exercise.

I will also have to temporarily move out of my bathroom and start sharing my husband’s bathroom. So I’m giving everything in my bathroom the once over. All of the items that I have been keeping “just in case” are getting tossed. I plan to move my daily toiletries and makeup into his bathroom, as well as useful sundries like Band Aids and cold medicine. Everything else will go into boxes. My goal is to minimize what gets stored in a box — just the backup items like extra tubes of toothpaste, since I know I will use those in time.

I will be doing some kitchen upgrades as well and I will have to shift things around in my cabinets to make that work. I plan to revisit everything in my kitchen and ask myself what I am likely to use in the future. I streamlined my cabinets quite a bit already, as I’ve written about in Tricking Out My Kitchen and Changing It Up. But there is always more to get rid of!

Don’t wait until you are relocating to give your stuff the once over. Living with less is much more relaxing than living with too much.

Commanding The Bathroom

I will never get tired of Command™ products, the line of hooks, strips, and other items that can be adhered to a wall or other smooth surface without damaging it. I’ve used them all over my home, as you can read about in many of my previous posts, including My Love Affair with Command™ Hooks and Hang Your Necklaces. But it’s even more fun when I get to try out products at a client’s home!

A long-term client recently moved to a new apartment. One of our first projects in the new place was the bathroom. Because this is a rental apartment, we wanted to make as few permanent changes as possible. I had been eager to try the Command bathroom products, which adhere to tile as well as wall, and stand up to high humidity.

Our first challenge was to provide additional hanging space for towels, as there was only one towel rack. We added the following products:

We needed something to keep shower products handy, so we hung one of these on directly on the tile:

  • Command Shower Caddy, Satin Nickel. This is great for accommodating shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. It keeps them right at eye level, and the design allows them to dry off between showers.

Every time I see my client, I ask, “Are the bathroom products still up?” and the answer is always “Yes!”

You can see the entire line of Command™ bathroom products on the Command website as well as on Amazon.



Would You Move With This?

I recently worked with a client who was getting her apartment ready to be photographed in preparation for it being sold. The timing on her move is uncertain — there are many steps that have to occur between now and then — but as we worked on readying her apartment to be photographed and ultimately sold, I repeatedly asked this question to help her decide whether to keep something or get rid of it: “Would you move with this?”

Moving is a great time to revisit everything you own and decide whether something still holds a place in your life. We tend to accumulate things over time, and as long as we have room for them, we keep them, even if we aren’t using them anymore. Many people get overwhelmed when they are preparing to move, so they don’t take the time to downsize. They say, “I’ll look at it all when I unpack.” They don’t realize that they will be just as stressed out at the other end, and will wish that they had made the decisions earlier. Why pay movers to move things you don’t even want?

Even if you are not moving, you can use this concept to help you get organized. Next time you are cleaning out a closet or drawer, ask yourself, “Would I move with this?” If the answer is no — if you wouldn’t pay a mover to bring it to a new home — then why are you keeping it now?

Using this question repeatedly will yield noticeable results in your closets, cabinets, and drawers. You’ll end up with just the stuff you actually use, and it will be easier to find things when you are looking for them. And if you do decide to move, you will be ready!

The Caretaker’s Daughter

Do you know the old song that asks the musical question, “Who takes care of the caretaker’s daughter while the caretaker’s out taking care?” My family lived a version of that last week when I hired a Professional Organizer to help my daughter.

Emily just finished her freshman year at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I’m still slightly traumatized by the experience of packing up her stuff for college, getting her to D.C., and settling her into her dorm room last August. As the end of the school year approached, I knew that she could really use my help to pack up and come back home for the summer. Then I had a brilliant idea: why should I take time away from my organizing clients – and incur the travel expense – when I know so many lovely organizing colleagues in the D.C. area? I asked Emily if she would like me to hire a Professional Organizer to help her, and she said yes.

Emily's closet when I unpacked her last August

Emily’s dorm closet

Things have changed since I was in college. Campuses are now affiliated with companies who provide boxes and store students’ stuff over the summer, delivering it back to their new dorm rooms in the fall. Emily picked one of those companies and arranged to have boxes delivered to her after her finals were over. The next day, Certified Professional Organizer® Kim Oser of Need Another You helped Emily to divide her possessions into four subsets: items that would be packed up and stored, items that would be shipped home for the summer, items that she would take home in a suitcase via Amtrak, and items she wanted to donate. The whole process took 3 1/2 hours, and Kim was nice enough to take away the bag of donated items.

After Emily came home, I asked her how it went. She was very pleased with the experience, and she pointed out that it is less stressful to work with a professional than it is with your own mom! Kim was polite and respectful, and Emily never felt like she was being judged. She made her own decisions about what to keep, and Kim supported those decisions while streamlining the process for her.

We can all use a helping hand at times, and while it is natural to call on close friends or relatives, sometimes the best alternative is to hire a professional.

Packing Up

We took our 18-year old daughter to college a few days ago. It was a huge undertaking – physically, emotionally, and of course, organizationally.

As I’ve mentioned before, I deal with emotional upheaval by getting organized. (See Love, Loss, and Organizing). Getting my daughter and all her stuff to school was a logistical puzzle that kept me focused and helped keep the emotions at bay.

Before I go on vacation, admiring friends often say to me one or two weeks before, “I bet you’re already packed.” In actuality, I never pack until the night before. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about what I’m going to pack until the night before. I spend weeks planning and strategizing, so when it’s time to actually pack the suitcase, it’s relatively easy.

Emily at GWU

Emily and George

That is the way I approached my daughter’s relocation to Washington, D.C., to begin her freshman year at George Washington University. We started preparing earlier in the summer by reviewing a checklist provided by her school, as well as a checklist from Bed Bath & Beyond which they provided in advance of a college event held in July. We identified what we already owned and what we still needed. We picked up quite a bit at the BB&B event, and ordered some other things on-line. Gradually, over the summer, we accumulated all her linens and other supplies.

I used her departure for college as an opportunity for her to review everything she owned and make decisions. Every item of clothing, every toiletry, every book, every electronic device, every makeup product needed to be looked at and evaluated for its future use. Whatever she didn’t want anymore got thrown away, donated, recycled, sold on eBay, or given away to friends and neighbors.

When we cleaned out her desk, we put all the office supplies she wanted to take with her into one drawer. This made it very easy to pack those things when that time came.

My daughter wanted to take all of her remaining clothes and shoes with her. I used my professional organizing techniques to guide her to more selective decision-making. She still brought too much, in my opinion, but she brought less than she had originally intended.

Two days before she left, we got down the suitcases and started packing.  All of our prior preparation paid off, and it was relatively stress-free. When we got her moved into her dorm room, we were pleased to discover that her stuff fit very nicely into her space.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so I filled up some of the empty space in her room by buying a small sofa bed. I may have lost a daughter, but I’ve gained a guest room!  At least until Thanksgiving.