I recently helped a woman unpack following a move to a new home. She and her husband were downsizing from a 6,000 square foot house to a 3,000 foot house. Once they got to the new home it was immediately apparent that they had no room for many of the items they had packed. It was “get real” time. Time to make hard decisions about what would stay and what would be let go.
Wisely my client had movers put many of their non-immediately essential boxes in the garage until they were ready to unpack them. Rather than moving the boxes into the house to unpack, we opened each box in the garage and sorted items into: keep, donate, trash, recycle. With awareness of the limitations of space in the new home, my client found it much easier to get rid of things as we moved through those boxes than I think she would have if she’d been unloading the boxes from inside the house. As we filled the boxes with items to donate, it was easy to put them in her car which was right outside the garage. Items to keep were grouped together in boxes to go into the house.
At the end of our two hour session we had filled her car with items to donate, and had several other big boxes of items to donate ready for her next trip.
Watching my client clear with gusto made me wonder about what made it possible for her to let go of things so easily. Here’s what I came up with:
- She was acutely aware of the reality of the size of space available, having already unpacked essential items. She had already experienced the feeling of “too much stuff” in her house. That feeling was so uncomfortable that she was motivated to be much more selective in her choices of things to keep.
- It was easier to let go of things because they had never been inside that house. Keeping them in the garage kept them from growing emotional roots that would have made clearing that much more difficult.
From this experience I learned the following new strategy for unpacking and clutter clearing following a move: If you have a garage, first open boxes in the garage and do an initial assessment of their contents. Look for items to donate or trash before you take each box into the house.
Clear your clutter BEFORE it takes up residence in your house. It’s easier to do and will ensure that you don’t take the easy way out, keep things you no longer love or use, and then have to work hard to make space for items you don’t need or love.