If you’re like me, you’ve accumulated a lot of ‘stuff’ in your lifetime. I think it’s comforting to have all these things that remind you that you’ve accomplished something (accumulation is an accomplishment, right?). It doesn’t hurt that it is actively encouraged by a culture with a serious shopping addiction.
But now, before we head into the great unknown with only our backpacks, we need to consolidate our lives to no more than about 5-7 boxes. To make our packing manageable without dissolving into hoarder-like fits of tears, I try to remember these three rules of packing:
1) If you haven’t used it in the last six months, you probably won’t again.
This rule could also be called ‘you’ll never actually use that.’ This rules applies to such items as: that juicer you bought when you were going to go on a juice cleanse that you gave up on after 16 hours because juicing takes a ridiculously long time, anything you ever wore in a play or as a costume, holiday-themed anything, t-shirts from things you did, and sports equipment for a sport that you don’t play.
And the real toughies: things that don’t fit (be honest with yourself about the likelihood of them fitting again within the next six months), books you won’t read (again, now is time for some candid conversations), things that serve no purpose (I like decorative throw pillows as much as anyone, but there’s a limit), and things that are redundant (one hairdryer is plenty).
2)Everything is replaceable (unless it isn’t)
It helps to think of space in your boxes as prime real estate that is limited and costing you money (because usually it is, in one form or another) and weigh that against the value of your item. The electric hand mixer cost me $10, but the price of packing it, lugging it across the country, and storing it is definitely more than that. Do I even need a hand mixer? Is that something I need to replace at all? Now is a great time to consider how much you want to be weighed down in the future by what is fairly optional to own.
3) You actually don’t need it (or really even want it)
This is the conversation I have with myself every time i come across another Bath & Body Works shower gel set or scented candle or 56 bottles of nail polish that I’ve had since I was 12:
I need it. You don’t need it. I really wanted it at some time and I’ll be damned if after all that wanting, I’m going to give it up now. I empathize, but you actually don’t need it. What if I need it someday? You will never actually need that. Okay, what if I kind of want it someday?
We hold on to the vast majority of these things for sentimental reasons, as a security blanket that helps us feel that we’re prepared for whatever life throws at us, but these things end up being figurative weights (and in the case of Dan’s work out equipment, literal weights) holding us somewhere because of a false sense of establishment.
If you can’t find your way around keeping things and you’re packing with someone else who is trying to keep you accountable, here are a few tricks to avoid having a conversation about your hoarder tendencies:
1) Look Busy
Avoid eye contact, pretend to do something that looks important, speak quickly. “I’d love to talk to you about why I need shoes that don’t fit me, but I’m clearly doing something important right now so just put it in the box and we’ll talk later”
2) Speak with Confidence
If you believe it, they will believe it. “But of course, we need the entire box set of the West Wing! Think!” Caution: this will only work so many times.
3)Bait and Switch
Pretend you’re making a compromise, “Alright, we can get rid of that Amherst College fight song CD, IF we keep the entire Harry Potter series.”
- 3 Must Know Packing Tips with Paris Gallery (ezeliving.com)
- “The Rule Is To Carry As Little As Possible” (amindfultraveler.wordpress.com)
- The Art of Packing (orderandidiosyncrasies.wordpress.com)