In the first installment I talked about applying one filter at a time when dealing with all of our possession as we get ready for the big move. Start with the things you’re definitely not taking, then sort the things that definitely are going, and deal with the “undecided” pile last. You can go back and read the first part here. Today I want to dig down into the sub-filters.
Apply One Sub-Filter at a Time
Now you’re got the stuff you’re taking, and you know that’s going to get packed or shipped or otherwise flung in the direction of where you’re moving. You’ve deal with the things that you’re not sure about, so there’s no doubt as to what you’re keeping and what you aren’t. Now you can begin to tackle what to do with the things you’re not keeping.
Things to throw out or recycle: Again, I recommend dealing with low-hanging fruit first. You know the things that clearly have no resale value, and no sentimental value. No one wants the clothes that you wouldn’t wear in public, but are good enough to wear around the yard. No one wants the cracked dishes or the cup with a chip out of it. No one wants the half-empty bottle of ketchup. If it can be recycled, put it in the right place. If it’s not recyclable, just put it in the trash.
Things to donate or give away: If it’s something that can be used, or something that someone might want, but it has no actual value, donate it. Find the thrift store run by your favorite charity, box it up, and drop it off. That’s all those clothes that are in good shape but in excess of what we’re taking, almost all of the dishes, even things like picture frames.
The exceptions are the things that have no real value, but do hold sentimental value. If its worth it measured in precious memories but you just can’t take it with you, consider giving it to a friend or relative. Approach this delicately. We already have a couple of people that are acting like we’re joining a cult or need to be put on suicide watch because we’re so gleefully divesting ourselves of material excess. There are also people who may be offended because you’re not taking that tchotchke they gave you for your birthday 17 years ago. Ask those people to hold onto those items for you. Explain that you’re not able to take it, but you don’t ant to just throw it away, so will they please hold onto it for you? You spare their feelings and avoid an unhealthy dose of guilty.
Things to sell: This can be broken down into a number of sub-filters by venue. What can be hauled over to the used book store? What can be sold on eBay? What should be listed on craigslist? My caveat here is that the amount you get for selling it has to offset the time it takes to deal with it. It takes time to write up eBay listings and craigslist ads; is the money you’ll get from the sale of that item worth it?
Try to group sales whenever possible. We it comes time to start getting rid of furniture, we’re going to run ads and list what we have and a block of time, rather than listing each item and dealing with individual buyers. Drop by at this time, first come, first served, get this out of here. I’ve been taking a box of books at a time to the bookstore, and I’m going to list bundles of like items on eBay rather than individual items. Oh, you only want to buy the one thing? Sorry. These three items together will generate a price that makes it worth my while to pack and ship it.
One Room at a Time
This is the final filter, but it shuffles in among the others. If you’re back at the beginning and pulling out the things you know for sure you’re not taking, pick a room and finish it before you move to the next room. Don’t pull a few things from the living room, then grab something from the bedroom, then do one cabinet in the kitchen, then go back to the living room. No. Start in one room and apply one filter, before applying another filter or moving into another room.
There are probably good arguments for doing one room at a time, and running though all of the filters in that room before moving into a another room. For a start, it empties a room and creates space for staging areas. An equal number of arguments can probably be made for picking one filter and then applying it to all of the rooms before moving to the next. Gathering everything that’s going to the dump so you only have to make one trip, for example. This is where I shrug and say hey, adapt this system to whatever makes the most sense for your situation. Just find an order that works and stick to it.
Why This System is Important
When I first started going though the house and thinking about how to deal with all of our stuff, I felt overwhelmed. It was a lot of possession, and I didn’t know where to begin. This system gave me a plan – pick a room, apply one filter. The reason