February resolution wrap up, and introduction of March resolution

In 2011, I’m trying out small, monthly resolutions instead of large, annual New Year’s resolutions. My public resolution for January was to be more organized in the kitchen, and create and use more nutritious meal plans for my family. In February, my public resolution was to go through everything — absolutely everything — in my office.

Within days of declaring my February resolution, I had abandoned it. My aunt passed away and I ended up traveling to Kansas and tending to family responsibilities for awhile. Uncluttering my office wasn’t a priority on my list of things to do, and I wasn’t even physically near it had I wanted to organize. After returning to the east coast in the second half of the month, my immediate family then decided to sell our house and move. Without intentionally doing so, I ended up sorting through everything in my office after all.

February came to a close and everything in my office had been sorted, dusted, and packed in a box, dropped off at a charity, sold, recycled, or thrown in the trash. Even the Elfa shelving system was disassembled and sold, as we purchased new office furniture for the new place. Packing the office was similar to packing the rest of the house, but with some notable exceptions:

  • Sensitive data. My corporate clients almost always have me sign non-disclosure agreements. As a result, I have to transport their files personally and can’t let a professional mover or friend tend to them. If you’re in a corporate or government setting, you might have similar restrictions when moving offices. I recommend color coding all of these sensitive boxes with bright orange or red stickers and numbering them (Box 2 of 7) to help keep track of them. Then, personally move the boxes last out of the old place and set them up first in the new space. Don’t leave these boxes in your car overnight if you are making a multiple-day move — your job and/or client relationship depend on it.
  • Knick knacks. I realized I had a ridiculous number of personal knick knacks in my office. For example, I had four pictures of my husband on my desk … and he works seven feet away from me. It’s nice to personalize a space (it sends a cue to your boss that you are not planning on leaving), but not let the personal items become a distraction to you or others. In the new office I’m going to try to limit knick knacks to one per every two or three feet of desk space, which will be about three knick knacks total.
  • Cable control. With the help of a label maker, I labeled both ends of every cable before packing it (external hard drive, scanner, stereo speakers). This will speed up the unpacking process and make things easily identifiable the next time I have to crawl under my desk to unplug a device.
  • Office supplies. Painter’s tape is great for keeping cables with electronics, lids on small containers, and little objects grouped together. Don’t use Scotch tape, masking tape, or packing tape for these objects, as you will waste too much time removing the adhesive once you’re in the new office. You can also write on the painter’s tape to identify objects.
  • Scan and recycle. Paper is extremely heavy, and you will want to move as little of it as possible. Use the move as an excuse to sort through all of your paper files and purge anything you don’t need in physical form. Scan the data you want, and then recycle the paper. Also, don’t move any “to be filed” piles — file before you pack to avoid moving something you don’t really need.

It should be no surprise that my public resolution for the month of March will be to completely unpack and organize our new home and office. In fact, my husband’s family is coming to visit in mid-March and my goal is to have almost everything unpacked before they arrive. I’m trying to think of it like an adventure instead of a chore. Wish me luck!

Do you have resolutions? What are you doing to achieving them? Can you do something today to get one step closer to your goal?

20 Comments for “February resolution wrap up, and introduction of March resolution”

  1. posted by Jen on

    Good luck with your move! I have always found that moving is a great motivation to declutter, since packing, hauling, and unpacking an item is a barrier to keeping it. When I last moved, it was into a much larger space (1BR apt to a 3BR house), and after my longest stay in one place (5 yrs). We took a bunch of stuff to the new place over the weekend, had the movers come on a Monday morning, and I took a full 3 days off from work to move/unpack. I’m one of those people who just can’t relax until everything is all done, so I did most of the unpacking/organizing in those 3 days. Oh, and I was 2 months pregnant with horrible morning sickness at the time. Although, in retrospect, that was definitely easier than having a toddler to get in my way ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. posted by Marrena on

    O_o WOW! All right, I know you are an organization goddess, but this really shows just how breathtakingly organized you are. If I am reading this correctly, you pretty much spontaneously decided to move two weeks before the end of the month. In those two weeks you not only went through all your things and got rid of what you didn’t want to move, but also packed up the remainder and have actually moved. With a small child. And are planning to be done with unpacking in another two weeks! I am in awe. This more than anything you have said shows how wonderful it is to be thoroughly organized, to be able to be that spontaneous in your life. What freedom!

  3. posted by Honkytonkfoodie on

    My resolutions for this year are to quit smoking and to go fishing more. I have been cigarette free for two months now and despite having a broken foot, went fishing a couple of weeks ago. Ultimately, it came down to something I hate but do all the time and something I love but never do. For the smoking, I made my intentions known and wrangled a former smoker to be my support. Then I went out to a sporting store and bought waders (cheaper than a boat). Set on my calendar once a month to plan a trip and printed from the internet all public places within fifty miles to fish. Having a plan helped more than anything.

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Marrena — I think you hit the nail on the head: Not having a lot of stuff significantly improves the moving process. It takes about the same amount of time for our family of three to pack, move, and unpack an entire house as it used to take for cluttered, single me to just pack a one-bedroom apartment.

  5. posted by Erin Doland on

    I should have also added in the post:

    If moving a hole punch, empty the punched holes BEFORE packing ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. posted by Tammie on

    Later this spring, my husband and I had planned on organizing our garage and his workshop. Recently a large animal had made it’s way in and destroyed the place, knocking over shelves, boxes, breaking numerous items… nothing of great value though. It was the perfect ‘excuse’ to start our cleaning/organizing project! We purged at least 115 large garbage bags full of what can only be described as junk…and have plenty more to go! It is amazing how much clutter you can accumulate without even trying! Now all of our painting supplies are together, gardening supplies, car care products…we found we had repurchased so many things due to our lack of organization…expensive lesson learned! Truly enjoy your site…I used many of your suggestions when going through this process! Next…the home office!

  7. posted by Tammie on

    OOPS I meant 15 bags…

  8. posted by Laundromat Business on

    I’ve moved a number of times in the past decade and I can say it is an experience which makes one wonder how so much stuff got acquired.

    Let me second two different techniques on your list.

    Marking both ends of wires is a must. It makes it so easy setup everything again plus it eliminates the hassle of trying to remember which goes where.

    Also reducing paper before moving is also a must. We always make a pass through docs before moving and it reduces weight but also space too because we tend to need storage containers to hold the paper. Eliminate the paper and eliminate the container too.

  9. posted by April on

    Congratulations on these past two months! What an accomplishment. Those kinds of habits are so hard to break. This Internet stranger is proud of you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    On a separate note, this post really gives me the itch to purge my own home. Starting with the kitchen junk drawer…

  10. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    My goal is to oublish my first ebook on MArch 14. So far I am on track, but I have had to play little tricks with myself to keep me on track. And one of those is talking about it to everybody! If I tell everybody, I HAVE to get it done!
    I love your office the way it was before, can’t wait to see what you end up with!

  11. posted by Ms. D on

    I know this goes against your last two posts, but I’ve found purging to be most successful on the back end of a move. Things had homes in my former home. When I started unpacking is when I started asking myself if this stuff was necessary or had a home in my current home.

    Sure, I purged some stuff before moving. My old place had a fireplace and my current one doesn’t. So the box of old bills and papers I was using as firestarting material was shredded for packing material or otherwise recycled. The fire-specific accessories (log-turner, wood basket, handheld broom and mini-dustpan) were left for the new owner. I had a portable dishwasher in my former dishwasher-free home, and that was sold before moving to my dishwasher-included place. Same goes for the microwave (my current place has a built-in microwave/hood).

    But that stuff was a small percentage of the stuff I ultimately ended up donating/selling/giving away. As I was unpacking, I started asking myself whether I needed/used/had space for lots of stuff, and started purging. I guess it’s a little easier to do it this way being a single person with 2 bedrooms and 5 closets, since all the “purge” stuff just got stashed in the guest room or a closet for a week until I could take it away, but I found it really useful to think about how these things fit into my new home while standing in my new home, envisioning what it would look like when done, rather than trying to think like that while standing in my old home, next to the living space that these things had happily occupied for a few years. I guess it was also helpful that my entire move equaled a 10′ truck and 3 car trips, which didn’t really put me out time, money, or energy.

  12. posted by Doris on

    Since I broke up with my boyfriend a week ago(actually we were to get married next week) he is very reluctant to move his stuff so my resolution is to pack all his belongings (not that he has a lot of them here since he has not really moved out from his parents’ house!), label the boxes and wait till he’s ready to pick them up. If he’s never ready (which is possible because he’s a total clutterer) I’ll drop them at his parents’ at the end of the month. I’ve already started to think what’s next and I’ve come up with an idea – colour uncluttering! So in April I’ll be repainting my flat, changing upholstery (on my own – I’m broke after breaking up) and arranging a soothing, organized colour scale in all rooms.Thanks for this great inspiration with monthly resolutions!

  13. posted by Karen Newbie on

    @Doris – Give him a week, not a month. And if that’s not realistic, put his boxes somewhere in your place where you don’t have to see them at all. (Closet? Garage? Storage area? Trunk/boot of your car?) That way you won’t be reminded daily or every time you see them of the upheaval you’ve just gone through. While you save up for your flat renovation, indulge yourself in style/color/upholstery ideas with books and magazines from the library or – even better – on various style internet sites and blogs, and when your bank account can handle it you’ll be ready to put your plan in action! Best of luck to you! (I lurk here, hope you don’t mind the unsolicited advice.)

  14. posted by bandicoot on

    good luck with your move, erin.
    you sound beautifully organised!

    labelled cables are the best idea ever.
    we also like to take photos of the backs of monitors/tvs/stereos to assist with the process of putting it all back together.

    doris….a break up is never an easy thing. and so close to a wedding must have been especially painful.
    how wise to do this BEFORE the wedding, rather than AFTER the wedding.
    i wish you many happy hours of redecorating your home this month.

  15. posted by Michelle Fox on

    What is it about desk space that makes it so irresistible to put stuff on? It’s seems like the desk calls out “Don’t know where to put that? Put it right here for now…” and then the piles form and the knick knacks collect. It’s a major problem area in my home because it becomes the default junk catcher. Any suggestions for curing the just “put it here for now” syndrome?

  16. posted by lucy1965 on

    @Doris I’m sorry, hon; it’s never easy, but as bandicoot said — better before the wedding than after. Do you have a couple of friends who would help you? I think it would be better for your mental health and your new goal of redecorating to get those things OUT immediately: pack ’em up, take them to his parents’ place and move on to the next thing in your life.

  17. posted by Doris on

    Thank you all for all pieces of advice. I’ve packed everything today and put it in the basement. Some friends have promised to help me with the redecoration and I’m going to visit his parents next weekend and take the boxes with me so that I can move on too. Can’t look forward to it indeed!

  18. posted by lucy1965 on

    @Doris I’m glad that we were able to help.

    I’m posting it in public so that there can be some accountability: the long-term goal of moving to Portland has been moved forward by our officially taking time off work and making appointments to view apartments/condos that are on our list.

  19. posted by ecuadoriana on

    Just goes to show that the best laid plans can get waylaid by outside influences. All the more reason why we should try to live as organized and clutter-free as possible so that when life takes crazy twists & turns in the road we will be better able to cope.

    I know so many people who live in such clutter & disarray on a daily basis that when disaster strikes- a death, an accident, a broken plumbing pipe, a divorce, etc- they almost collapse under the stress of trying to cope with relatives showing up, finding necessary paper work, hauling out tons of ruined possessions, fighting over who gets what, etc. One friend had accused her ex of “stealing” her “prized possessions” only to later find them buried under dusty junk & dirty laundry under the bed in the guest room where she had forgotten she put them years before! I said to her “All that negative energy you put into fighting with him over this when you could have been healing & moving on!” (Guess why he wanted a divorce!!!)

    Moving house can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but if one lives an organized & clutter free existence things will go so much smoother.

    One of the things I love best about Erin’s postings is that she isn’t afraid or embarrassed to show us her missteps & struggles, along with her successes. She is a great inspiration to all of us who struggle daily with the overwhelming flotsam & jetsam of modern existence!

    I also go with monthly goals. So far so good with meeting my own demands. My best success so far: I had been scouting around looking for a small studio space to rent for my craft projects. Then one day I was cleaning out a huge walk in closet (with a window!) that was being used as extra storage. Voila! Instant studio space! I smacked myself on the forehead for wasting such a perfectly good bit of real estate to store boxes & junk!!!

    Good luck with the move, Erin, and may you have many wonderful years in your new home!

  20. posted by Elli D. on

    I do have resolutions (New Year resolution) but I don’t really keep them. Honestly, I tend to forget about them. Monthly resolutions, however, seem like a pretty smart idea to me(and definitely easier to keep). I think I will set myself a new goal for March, thank you. Oh, and good luck with your March resolution, too!

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