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Making Moves: How to Reduce Overwhelm when Packing and Moving



I’ve been thinking a lot about moving lately. It seems like everyone I know, myself included, is moving. I have helped clients who have had to temporarily move out of their houses while they renovated and then helped them organize their homes once they moved back in. I have supported elderly clients in downsizing and moving into the next season of their lives. I have packed up clients who relocated (in search of more space, proximity to family, lower cost of living, etc.) as the pandemic surged, and I have helped others settle back into Los Angeles as the economy opens back up. And then there’s me: I’m in the process of moving in with my boyfriend and designing a living space and organizational system that feels homey and intuitive to the both of us.


I have to admit I thought that my move was going to be a breeze. After all, I’ve been living a minimalist-ish life. While I’ve thoughtfully curated the items in my apartment, I have little attachment to my things and can about 89% of the time see that my identity is not anchored in any of my belongings. And, quite fortunately, I have the option to move at a pace that suits my schedule because as a small business owner I set my own hours and I also do not have the pressure to be out of my apartment by any particular date. Even with all these things going for me, it has been quite the process to:

  • thoughtfully re-home duplicative items or those that do not fit my partner and my aesthetics as a couple (I’ll save my rant about misadventures on Facebook Marketplace for another day)

  • help my boyfriend declutter his items

  • work as a couple to gain clarity on how to set up our our space so that it best supports us in living our values, and

  • resist the compulsion to just keep everything in storage “in case we might need it someday.”


All this to say, I understand how hard it is to be mindful when moving. I get how it can feel easier to tell ourselves we’ll pack it all up now and make a decision on it later, or to do the opposite and throw it all away and buy a whole new set of everything. Despite how challenging it may feel, I urge you to slow down and practice intentionality--always, not just when you’re in the process of relocating.


I believe that the more awareness you have as you move from moment to moment, the more ease you will experience as you move from home to home. The more thoughtful you are about the INFLOW of things into your home, the less energy you need to expend on managing the OUTFLOW. Here are some ideas for how to reduce the decision fatigue and sense of overwhelm when moving...well in advance of your move:

  • Routinely declutter to prevent amassing 30 years’ worth of knick-knacks that you need to make decisions on when it comes time to move. I recommend decluttering seasonally.

  • Shop with a shopping list to reduce impulse purchases.

  • Invest in quality items that will bring you joy as you use them over and over again. These items will likely survive the roughest of moves, and since they’re of high quality, someone else is likely to want them if and when you decide you no longer want them.

  • Before purchasing specialty, one-off items and/or items that you will not likely get high use out of, ask yourself if you can borrow that item from anyone or test-drive it first.

  • When you move into a new space, don’t be afraid to live in emptiness for a little while. Don’t rush to fill the place. Living with just the essentials for a short period of time may offer you clarity on what truly makes a house feel like home to you.


As always, if you need help implementing any of these practices, I am here to support you! I offer in-person organizing services for clients located in the Los Angeles region and Virtual Clutter Coaching to folks with internet connection and a desire to heal their relationship with their things.


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