Hey Red! How do we deal with all of these moving boxes?

My husband and I have had to move quite a few times because of his job. We've ended up with a large amount of boxes that we are pretty sure we don't want about 80% of what's inside, but the task seems daunting. We don't know where to go with the stuff or how to go about it - so it just sits down in the basement...and we move it once again. The amount of boxes are growing. It is stressful to know the boxes are there. We "need" to go through it, but it's too overwhelming. How can we do this in an organized and sane way?  

Moving Mayhem

Dear Moving, 
I can assure you that you are in really good company. I've worked with many people who have had unpacked boxes follow them from house to house - sometimes for decades!

When we stay “big picture” for too long, large tasks seem insurmountable. When we break the large task down into smaller pieces, it becomes much easier.

First know that the task is much scarier than the reality. Part of what's so scary and causing the overwhelm is thinking of the entirety of the task. When we stay "big picture" for too long, large tasks seem insurmountable. When we break the large task down into smaller pieces, it becomes much easier. 

For example, many people would like to write a book or run a 5K. Running a 5K or writing a book (of which I've done both) isn't that difficult, but you can't do it all at once. 

Well, you could...but that's insane. 

Instead, you break it down bit-by-bit. Start training for the run: swapping walking for running. Adding length. You start writing the book: making an outline. Thinking of stories. Writing things bit-by-bit until you have a completed work. 

We'll apply the same technique to tackling all of your moving boxes. 

  • Work one box at at time - go to the basement and bring one box up to the main living area. 
  • Open up the box and start removing items. While removing items ask yourself one question: "stay or go?" 
  • "Go" items go into 1 of 4 piles: trash, recycle, donate, or sell.
  • "Stay" items go into a pile of which room that item will live in. 
  • Take everything from each pile and put them away where they belong whether it's a trash or recycle bin or the room that it will live in. 

Complete the above cycle with every box until all of them are gone. 

Pro-tip: most clients find this easier to do with some good music or random television playing. I often recommend a movie or your fave tv show and drink of choice to make the task less mundane. 

Set a goal to clear out at least one box a week. Bonus points for at least one box per day. People often find once they get started it's easy to get on a roll and hit at least 2-3 boxes a night, more on the weekends. This is especially true when they know that they don't need most of what is in there - which you already know as well. 

Additional notes:

  • This may take a long time. That's OK. Don't think about that or it will get too overwhelming again. Instead channel that energy into taking action and clearing out box by box. 
  • Along the way you may rediscover long hidden treasures. You may discover things that you wish would continue to be hidden. You may come across things you may wish never existed at all. It's all OK. Feel it, enjoy the process, and keep going. 

With every single person I've gone through this process with, after we were finished they wish they hadn't put it off for so long.

It's time for you to stop putting it off too! You can do it! 

Do you have moving boxes that have followed you around for years? It's time to take care of them once and for all. You'll feel SO much better when it's done. Let me help.