Friday, July 17, 2015

Moving Tips: How to Organize Your Stuff for Storage

Earlier this week, I shared the tips and tricks that Kenny and I picked up while decluttering our home last month. While our decluttering cut down on the sheer volume of things in our apartment, we still had quite a few belongings that simply didn't have a home in our new apartment. Instead, we sent them off to a near by storage unit. Because our things will be in storage for at least several years, I wanted to make sure that we'd be able to have easy, headache-free access to everything. So, because I am me, I made lists. Check out the steps I followed below, then let me know what tips you have for setting up an easy-access storage unit. Happy packing!

1. Sort

First, I gathered everything that would be going into storage and placed it all in the middle of my living room. Then, I divided my belongings into three pile categories:

Won't Need
What went here: our fancy china (We can't fit more than two people around our table, much less host a fancy dinner for two. But you better believe that we're having a fancy dinner party the moment we become homeowners.), unused throw pillows, keepsakes, furniture we won't be using 

Might Need Occasionally
What went here: extra kitchen supplies that we don't use regularly, infrequently-worn clothing,  extra home decor

Will Need Several Times a Year
What went here: bulk items like shampoo and toilet paper that we don't have room to store in the apartment, holiday decor, winter coats

2. Sort Into Boxes

Once you've broken your belongings up into the three categories, group things with like items. For example, I put all of our bulk items together in one box, all of our holiday decor in one box, and all of our excess kitchenware in one box.

3. Make a Spreadsheet

Before you begin actually packing boxes, begin a spreadsheet on your laptop. Within your spreadsheet, create a page for every box. As you pack, make a list of the items in each box.

When you finish, print each list and attach it to the outside of the corresponding box. Now in 6 months when you can't find your electric mixer, you'll be able to quickly check to see a) if it's in storage and b) which box it's in.

4. Thoughtfully Arrange

You've packed your boxes, you made your lists, and you've loadedup the moving truck. Now what? Well, for me and Kenny, the final thing was to arrange our belongings in our storage unit as thoughtfully as possible. Remember how you separated your things into three categories? Let these categories guide you as put things into storage.

  • Place the items you're least likely to need in the least accessible areas: in the back of the unit, on the highest shelves, and on the bottom of box stacks.
  • Fill in with your might-need items in and around these boxes.
  • Finally, place the boxes you're most likely to need in easily-accessible areas: in the front of the unit by the door, on eye-level/arm-level shelves, on the top of piles. 

With every box, make sure your lists and box numbers are facing out and are easily visible. This way, you can easily locate boxes when searching for things in the future.

And voila! An organized and accessible storage space.

What storage tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve? What alterations or additions would you make to this list?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Moving Tips: How to Declutter Before a Move

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Between the two of us, Kenny and I have moved more than 15 times in the past 6 years. As a result, we've developed some decent de-cluttering skills.

When I first drafted this post, I was determined to share some no-nonsense steps to getting rid of unused junk. I created a flowchart, and I made a list of more than 50 questions to guide the process. But after de-cluttering my own home for our recent move, I was reminded that de-cluttering is all about judgment calls. Just because I haven't used my electric hand mixer in the past six months doesn't mean I want to get rid of it. And just because I wore that shirt last week doesn't mean I want to keep it. Only you know best.

Instead, I've drafted a list of four guiding questions that we used to make the tough decisions about what to keep, what to donate, and what to toss away. Happy de-cluttering!

4 Simple Questions to Help You De-clutter Your Home

1. Is it expired or broken?  If yes, throw away. If the item is broken, give yourself a week to fix it. If you haven't fixed it by then, throw it away or donate it to someone who will  fix it.

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2. Have you used this in the past year? If not, donate or sell. If you choose to sell, give yourself two weeks. If you haven't listed or sold the item in two weeks, donate it instead.

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3. Do you have more than one? Do you need more than one? When Kenny and I moved a few weeks ago, this was a question we had to ask ourselves a lot. We were blessed to receive many wedding gifts last fall, but we also received a few duplicates. For example, we currently own five slotted spoons. Had we used all of these in the past 7 months? Yes. Could we easily live with just one slotted spoon for the next two years? Also yes. Instead of moving all five with us to the new place, we stored all but one of the spoons, though we could have easily donated them too.

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4. Does owning this make you happy? When it really comes down to it, this is the question that matters the most. I have a huge box of keepsakes that used to live in the back of our den. It's filled with things that I haven't used in years and will probably never use again, but that doesn't mean I want to throw them away. That movie ticket from the first show Kenny and I saw together? I want that! Instead of questioning the usefulness of all of these items, I instead considered the joy they bring me. The syllabus from my college Calculus class does not make me happy, but notes from my former Res Life staff definitely do.

This gourd makes me very happy. 

What questions, tips, or tricks have you used in your own moves over the years?