"Spaciousness is more important than stuff."

Quote from a student/reader. Precisely. One of the great challenges in life is to realize what we no longer need and let it go. “Everything we own, owns us.”

Notes: 1. I’m reading “SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully” by Jane McGonigal (her twin sister’s book is also on the Recommended Reading list) which has fired my imagination and shifted my beliefs about goals and habits. I can’t recommend it too highly. I checked it out of the library and by the 6th page, knew I had to buy it. This book will be worth re-reading and using many times.

2. I had planned to write a newsletter on overcoming procrastination but James Clear has already written everything that needed to be said on the topic. I particularly liked the quotes at the very end. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to his free, intelligent newsletter.


Two years ago, I sent a newsletter with lessons learned from my previous move. Who knew? There was much more to learn, so here are some lessons from this experience that may prove useful to others needing to move.

1. Label all parts of furnishings that will be taken apart to show how they correctly go back together. My movers put the wrong shelves in one bookcase, making it impossible to assemble two other bookcases, which delayed unpacking. Also, even though the bookshelves came out of the bookcase with the lip side up (to reduce the likelihood of objects on the shelves flying off in an earthquake), they were put back with the lip down, so the shelves had to be unloaded to fix it before going on with unpacking.

2. Measure everything before moving. Every piece of furniture and each wall and ceiling height were carefully measured before moving, so I knew that my tallest bookcase would fit by ONE inch. Without that knowledge, it would have left behind, requiring more expense to replace it. Measuring the elevator before moving showed that the bookcase could not fit and would have to be carried up the stairs, saving time struggling to make it go in where it could not.

3. Getting rid of things no longer needed or used in the past year or that will not definitely be used by a given date, is an excellent strategy that saves money, effort, and stress to transport, unpack and organize it.

4. On the other hand, if the pressure to move quickly prevents making many small decisions about what to keep, make disposal decisions while unpacking, saving having to put away so many things. (Or better yet, make them on a regular basis when no under pressure so that you never will be!)

5. But… taking a few weeks in the new home before irretrievably deciding what you do not need may be a good idea. Before I figured out how best to function in the new space, I got rid of some lovely items that would have been good to use if I had realized how differently this space works. Similarly, many things were left in Sacramento that I should have kept. This could have been prevented by greater familiarity with the new site, more time thinking things through (difficult under time pressure), or just accepting the extra moving costs (probably cheaper than replacement).

6. One great benefit of moving is the necessity to re-think many habits and ways of doing things, which keeps brain cells alive and active, shows ways to streamline activities and organization, and helps simplify life in general. Expecting that this will be necessary and beneficial makes you more receptive to new ways and ideas and less frustrated when the old ways no longer work.

7. Packing when exhausted leads to poor labels and decisions, leading to more work and confusion later. If boxes are filled in small stages, list each new item added on the box as it is packed rather than expecting to remember what was put in it later.

8. And silly me, I assumed that of course the apartment would be completely cleaned before being turned over to me. Wrong. Ask whoever is managing the site what cleaning procedures will be followed. If the management is not going to have the new apartment in pristine condition, scheduling time there to clean it before your move will save a lot of stress and time. Cleaning is a lot harder if you if you have to work around boxes and getting unpacked will take longer.

9. Careful planning is the key to an easy move. After first seeing the apartment, I nearly turned it down because it looked too small and too badly laid-out to meet my needs. However, lots of work with floor plans showed that I could do it, even if it meant many compromises, sacrifices, and tolerating difficulties (being back in the Bay Area is worth it! – another year in Sacramento would have been unbearable).
But, no amount of planning replaces actual lived experience in the new space. My floor plans showed where every piece of furniture would go, yet after several weeks, I had to re-arrange both the bedroom and living room. These were much bigger tasks than it sounds like because my furnishings are all built-in and heavy and I am not as strong or resilient as I used to be. So I mapped the whole process out on paper before starting and took things slow to avoid mistakes and injuries, and got each room done in a single day. After planning, the rest is only work – no big deal.

The moral of this tale is plan ahead, but make all your plans flexible, and be prepared to adjust your arrangements whenever life shows you what is needed.



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© Gloria Valoris, 2015

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