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Lightening The Load
Reducing your tonnage before you move
Before going on the move, and before even packing things up, I'd highly recommend getting a US$10 book that may save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds of shipping weight, not to mention days of packing/
The book is called "Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui" by a woman
named Karen Kingston. (ISBN 0767903595 (alternate, search)) It's 179 pages, and small. About 5"x7". Amazon.com has it discounted by about 20%, and there are used copies available for less than that. They also have about 29 pages of the book available online.
Some parts of it read a bit "New-Agey", but overall there's a lot of
very practical and easily digestible info in there that inspires you to go and tackle sorting out your stuff. We've given copies to many friends and been rewarded with stories of how they cleaned out their room/apartments/houses/etc. in very little time. Often, they've cleaned up something that has been untouched and troublesome for years, and been amazed at how easy it really was.
This book does work, and it feels good when you're done. (Seriously!) It's actually worth a re-read every year or so, too. (I'm about due for one. :-) )
Also along the line of cleaning out stuff you don't want and lightening your load, here are a few other strategies we've used over the years:
- Go through your clothing with a critical eye and pull out the things you haven't worn in 3 years or more. These are probably safe to go away. :-)
- Pull out the things you haven't worn in at least a year. Ask yourself (truthfully) if you think you will again. Is it worth the ballast weight and shipping cost?
- Put all the clothes you want to give away into bags for Goodwill or Salvation Army or some local charity, then BRING THEM TO THE CHARITY! This part is really important! Put a date on the calendar within a week or two and get the stuff out! It doesn't count if you've moved it from inside the closet to the corner just outside the closet! :-)
Over the years, my girlfriend, Stacie and I have employed what we call a "Calgon Box". This is a play on the old Calgon soap commercials where they said "Calgon, Take me away!" :-) A simple cardboard box does the trick, and we've actually put a label on ours that says "Calgon (Take me away!)" just so people know what it is and get the joke. (Variants like "Free stuff to good home" work just as well.)
- Keep the box near your front door, or in a guest room if you have lots of visitors. Encourage people to take stuff with them. If you live in an apartment building, leaving a box of goodies near the stairs or elevator or where people get their mail also works astonishingly well. (When list member Ken Turgen moved "downspin" from SF to Boston last year, we put stuff out and often found it gone within 15-30 minutes.)
- Good candidates for the Calgon Box are book/tapes/CDs/videos that you no longer want, old pots & pans, dishes, glasses, stuffed animals, etc. In apartment buildings, consider leaving behind cleaning supplies, brooms & dustpans, and even unwanted bottles from your liquor cabinet, if you have one. We helped a friend move from Santa Cruz to San Francisco last spring, and we found neatly arranged boxes of those things placed gently on top of the dumpster, not thrown in. They essentially were left with a "Free to good home" sign implied on them, by someone who didn't want to deal with the ballast. At the end of the day, we threw a little party and had a celebratory drink of thanks to the person who left us the goodies. :-)
- If you have an office that's moving, or even a home office with lots of office supplies, envelopes, pens, folders, etc., consider donating these to a local school. Private and Charter schools often don't have much of a budget for these things, and LOVE to get donations like this. (We just did this while closing out an office in San Jose this summer for my old company. A local charter school sent over people and hauled away a pickup truck-full and a van-full of things like folders, old microwave ovens and coffee machines, Post-It Notes, 3-ring binders, etc. And the person in charge of the move didn't have to worry about shipping it to the East Cost, or having someone unpack and sort it over there. The whole thing worked out so well that they did the same thing with a local school in Minnesota when they closed an office there.
Hopefully these sorts of things will be helpful to you. They have been to me in the past.
As a college student you realize that moving back and forth becomes part of who you are and who you are not. If you want to ask a pro "MOVER", college dormies are a good place to start. For myself, I learned that I must Reduce Reduce Reduce and eventually you find that what you need is what you have.
This is where finding who you are takes place in Moving.
That takes care of the cloths.
- Cloths: Take all of your clothes put them in a big pile and dig. Pull each item out one by one examine each article to make sure they are still in tack. Now take the pile of cloths that are still in tack and pull each one out for the smell test. What does not smell goes in the new you pile. The cloths that remain can be easily given away for recycled products. Next pick up the new you wardrobe and stare at them. Essentially, what you have in your arms is the new wardrobe and can easily be slapped in the back of your car.
- Entertainment System: Take all of your entertainment system (television, stereo, speakers, playstion, etc….) and put them in a pile. Now take a copy of your favorite book and a blank sketchpad and place them next to the gigantic pile of entertainment equipment. Stand back a little and decide which pile your going to “need”. This step is very simple; do you want to bring your mind or a wasteland of commercial structure. HHHHMMMMMMM that’s tuff.
- Blankets: Carefully place your warmest blanket on the floor next to your new wardrobe, sketchbook and favorite book. That step was simple wasn’t it?
- Food: Last but not least, food. Take a 40-pound box of you favorite flavored ramen noodles and simply place that on the floor next to your other goodies. Well, if your feeling really good you can buy a package of mixed ramen noodles. Some of you might be wondering how a person can live on ramen noodles. Well, its simple the food you need is out there, the only difference is it wont have a plastic wrap and a price tag.
Now take the 40-pound box of ramen and place it flat on the laid out blanket. Next take your new wardrobe and throw them on top of the ramen. Now take each corner of the blanket and tie it around the pile. “Wait you forgot the books”. No, I did not. Now pick up the books in one arm and throw the blanket bag over your shoulder. And off you go.
To sum it up: What you have in your arms is either a 2-week camping trip or a simple life. You decide!
Alright I did not explain how you find who you really are. And you are correct. The answer is (try it then you will see).
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