1) Sort through your stuff. Now is a good time to donate clothes you don't wear, books you're not going to reread, and any extra stuff you don't use. Go through papers for filing or destroying, and be honest when deciding which things stay. I asked myself the following questions:
- Do I need it? Or, do I need three of it? While I have never had an emergency requiring more three ladles, I can't be sure how I would react, but I only kept one anyway. I like to live on the wild side...
- Do I use it? Have I used it (worn it) in the last year? For clothes, I also make sure they fit and I'd be happy wearing them in public. It's amazing how much the "public" part of that helps make decisions. We said goodbye to a heap of Tall Guy's (old and sad) t-shirts and also ditched a bunch of (really sad) socks.
- Does it have sentimental value? My mom gave me a good tip for this one - take a picture and move on. A case in point - stuffed animals. Unless you vacuum pack them, which means you're definitely not using them or even looking at them, they take up a lot of space. Keep a snapshot and memories as a souvenir and pass on the toys so someone else can play.
2) Pack in suitcases and boxes of the same size. Our off-season clothes are being stored in suitcases at Spanish Aunt's place. Easy to move and easy to pop into a closet or under a bed. Clothes we're using are in suitcases under our bed at our in-laws, where we are staying until the renovation is done. Boxes that are the same size are easier to stack and store (keep reading).
3) Use the space you have. We wiggled and jiggled and jammed and piled, but our dining room set and appliances now all fit on the terrace. They're wrapped up and will be just fine. Our building has a small amount of shared basement storage, which is where we've put larger items we're trying to get rid of (anyone want an
4) Make a list and check it twice. This way you'll know where everything is. It's not the most thrilling task, but listing and labeling is a lot better than having a panic attack and dumping out eight boxes before realizing your passport was in your desk drawer all along...