Jun 5, 2014 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. William Morris

This quote has really resonated with me lately. I was recently informed by my landlords that the time had come for them to sell the condo I rent with my daughter and our dog.

I had a feeling it was coming, and after the stressful first step of finding a new place (our acceptance into our new apartment rested on our dog passing a pet interview!), we are now at the equally tough second step of packing everything up and schlepping it to the new house.

I’m no stranger to moving. In fact, as someone who actually likes change, I’ve always kind of enjoyed it — learning about a new place; getting a fresh start. I seem to do it every couple of years, and you’d think by now I’d have it down, but even after an adult life full of moves, it’s still sort of haphazard. And this time, the amount of stuff we have to move is overwhelming. This move, however, I’ve got a little more time, and so I’ve been putting in the effort to make the actual, physical move as painless as possible.

For me, that means, purging. Normally when I move, it takes most of my time to look for a place, which doesn’t leave much time to pack things up, and I wind up throwing everything into boxes without any reflection. The goal is just to get everything to the new place and get set up, and then maybe a couple months later go through my things and get rid of what I no longer want or need.

To prepare for the big move, I’ve read a lot of advice on the subject, and all of it says to purge beforehand, maybe even hold a garage sale, and then pack, that way, you don’t wind up moving things you don’t want or need.

Assuming you have the luxury of all kinds of time, that might be a good way to go about things. After all, it takes time to go through every item, decide its future, get emotional, change your mind, change your mind again, then stick it in a box to be labeled with a price tag or to put it away again. After that, you have to go through all your stuff again to pack it up and then physically carry it all into your new home.

That’s a lot of work, and while I have more time for this move, I don’t have unlimited time, so I’m combining the two steps. I’m purging AS I pack.

There are a few benefits to this:

It’s more efficient. You save time by not handling everything once or twice before you even get it into a box. I mean, why go through everything to decide whether to keep it, then put it away again, only to have to get it back out to pack it up in a couple of weeks? We’re all busy people. Who has time for that?

You have less stuff to pack. Packing is work. Boxes, if you can’t find them for free, can add up. Your time is valuable. Having less stuff to pack means less work, less expense and less time — and less clutter in your new home.

It’s relatively painless. The purge-as-you-pack model means you have to make quick decisions about items. You don’t have time to devote to painstakingly pondering every little thing you own because you have to get it into a box or into the donation pile and keep going. It’s that overthinking that makes purging a long, tough road, but forcing quick decisions means you get through it faster and can move on.

Our condo had gotten a little small, which is really just a way to say that we have acquired too much stuff, since our condo didn’t actually shrink. All that clutter was starting to stress me out, so a purge really has been in order for a while. And ultimately the goal of the purge-as-you-pack model is to avoid moving that clutter from one house to another.

We have a week left before the move, and I’ve lined up friends to help. In honor of their backs, I’m going to make sure we’re not moving things we don’t want or need.


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.