No matter how well organized and labeled your boxes were before your move, unpacking after a move is never as easy as you think it will be. Unless you have hired a team of people to pack up all your things and unpack them for you, it can be chaotic, very emotionally overwhelming, physically tiring, mentally taxing, and can feel like an endless process, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Some people may only need days or weeks to unpack, others take months to years to finally get fully unpacked. As a home organizer, about half of my organizing projects are move related. I’m often helping people prep for moves or unpack and dial things in after a move. In this post, I’ll give you some of my top tips for how to unpack after a move in the most efficient way possible.
Take care of yourself, eat well, hydrate, and get lots of rest. Instead of staying up late scrolling through your phone, opt to put it down and go to bed. Enjoy the process. Notice all the little things about the new (and old) house that makes you smile. Find the humor in daily life. Whenever I’m stressed, I always like to imagine I’m in an episode of The Office. In fact, yesterday, I had a great example of that when I was at the Ace Hardware. Someone walked in, and I was quickly reminded of the episode where Dwight was wearing the Camelbak all day. It put a huge smile on my face.
Break It Down
Don’t try and do too much at once. Instead of stressing and trying to get everything unpacked in one day, give yourself some grace and remind yourself that unpacking takes time. Depending on how busy you are with other areas of your life, use a timer to help you spend a reasonable (not unreasonable!) amount of time each day unpacking and organizing. Or shoot for a certain amount of boxes to unpack. If you can’t meet your goal, go easy on yourself. Just do something, even if it’s something really small, like taking out the trash. Have fun with the process. Take breaks. If you notice yourself stalling out, get a new perspective. Document the process with funny photos or videos. Don’t underestimate the power of creating a funny home video as a way to reset your motivation to get things done! Don’t wait to enjoy your space.
Ask For Help
Delegate tasks. If you have other family members living in the home, depending on how household roles are split up, let them unpack their own boxes instead of trying to be the hero for the family. Although it may take a little patience, kids can actually do a lot of their own unpacking. It will be a great learning experience for them. Empower them to make their own decisions about where their things should go in their rooms, and honor their choices. Ask a friend or family member to come over and help. Or hire a home organizer (like me!) to come help lift the burden.
Sort and Refine Later
Roughly sort items into their proper rooms. Focus on the bigger picture. Don’t waste too much time on minutia such as tedious organizing projects like organizing bathroom supplies. You can refine those areas later. For now, work on getting the boxes unpacked and things “close enough” to where they belong. Use post-it notes or blue tape and a Sharpie to help you remember where things are temporarily. Find your most essential things and get them unpacked first, as best you can. Do your best at planning how each room will be used, but remember that you’re probably going to change your mind, so don’t get too hung up with being a perfectionist with the planning.
Even if you’ve done your best job at decluttering before you move, once you’re in your new location, you’re probably going to find more things to get rid of. When in doubt, choose to upgrade. For example, instead of bringing your old worn out welcome mat, let it go, and infuse your home with the fresh energy of a brand new welcome mat. Throw out things that are broken unless you know that it’s a fix you will actually do in a reasonable amount of time. Spread some good karma and give away quality things that you realize you don’t need anymore to your local Buy Nothing group. When you’re putting your clothes away, get really honest about how certain clothes make you feel when you’re wearing them. Of course it’s fine to keep some comfort clothes, but what percentage of your closet is filled with clothes that make you feel frumpy? The universe is constantly trying to give you upgrades. Notice how often your computer is trying to give you an upgrade, but you keep choosing to postpone it? Moving is a special time of life when you have thousands of upgrade options. Use discernment and choose to let go of the downgraded version of yourself.
Tidy Up and Dial It In
Once you’ve done the lion’s share of sorting and unpacking, now is the time to really dial things in. Install hooks to hang things, get organizing containers if needed, cull extras, and hang artwork. If you haven’t done it already, hide a spare key outside (or in a lock box) so that you’ll never be locked out. As you and the other people living in your household change and grow, so will the organizational needs of your home. Don’t wait until everything is in the perfect place to put up artwork or install hooks or shelves, because that day will never come. The organization of your house will constantly be evolving just as long as you are, so allow for things to be done so you can eventually change them again in the future.
By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
Check out my media exposure: Seattle Sparkle in the Media
Download my free 5 week journal The Seattle Sparkle Method to Get Organized and Stay Organized
Sign up for my free 4 Day Color to Declutter Challenge.
Become part of a like-minded community by joining my Facebook Group, Declutter and Organize with Seattle Sparkle.
Ready to book a consultation? Complete this form.
For artwork to energize your home, order through jeanprominski.com.