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Today's story features insights from MaryKay Buysse, co-executive director of the National Association of Senior and Specialty Move Managers (NASMM). We're so grateful to her for sharing her perspective and insights!
The new show streaming on Peacock, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, has returned author Margareta Magnusson’s concept of “Swedish death cleaning” to the headlines. The idea she outlined in her book is deceptively simple: Continuously organize and declutter your home to reduce the burden on loved ones of sifting through hundreds of objects to decide what is significant and should be kept, and what needs to move on out, “to make the later years of our lives as comfortable and stress-free as possible.” (Did you catch last week's piece in ARTIcles on Swedish Death Cleaning a Marriage? Check it out, too!)
Artifcting is a means to continuously and easily practice Swedish death cleaning: Keeping track of and acting on “what’s next” for the items you Artifct, while also preserving the memories and stories. As August is Make-A-Will Month and a very popular time for home moves, we think it’s important to bring you matter-of-fact tips and perspective to help you deal with all that stuff!
“You Just Need a Moving Truck and Dumpster”
We know that some people say, “Oh, don’t worry, push comes to shove, in just two days you can clear out a house of all the stuff.” That sounds great – but you might struggle to imagine how that would exactly get done. There’s a good reason for your disbelief.
“Haste equals regret!” emphasized MaryKay Buysse. “No one’s life should be so marginalized that we believe it can be downsized in 48 hours, start to finish. It’s not just rent a dumpster and a van. It should be done thoughtfully and intentionally. You must honor that life, that home" ... and Artifcts can be the tool move managers use to get it done! Listen in >
“That’s why we think Artifcts is transformative for the move management industry. It has the power to change how a move manager works and speaks with their clients for this very reason – honoring the history and memories. Artifcts has so much value.”
What she said! You stand to lose so much history, so many memories, and maybe even provoke family arguments over heirlooms lost, not to mention the potential financial value to all that you toss. Do you know that sometimes people give up on moving altogether because they don’t want to deal with the stuff? Don’t let that happen to you!
Top Tips for Accelerating Your Moving Process
There’s a better way to get through all the stuff. First, bring Artifcting into the process to recognize and record what you cherish and hold onto those memories, even if you do not keep all the stuff. Because, as MaryKay also emphasized, when it comes to sorting and decluttering for a move, “Every object has to have its moment where the client and move manager discuss it.”
For all the rest, the reality is few of us really knows what lurks in every drawer or closet, “And despite the popularity of all these new approaches to organizing, decluttering, and minimalism, people still seem to have the same amount of stuff,” said MaryKay.
Professional move managers have time-tested strategies to accelerate the process and reduce the physical and emotional stress on you while setting in motion your intentions for all your ‘stuff.’ Here are a few of our favorite tips from our conversations with MaryKay:
Bite size to-do list.
Tactical lists really will help make you more efficient. There’s a reason why science-backed research on habit formation as well as professionals with decades of experience in downsizing and decluttering recommend starting with smaller (and maybe less emotional, too!) tasks first. You score some wins, find a process that works for you, and get stuff done. Wins building on wins.
The move manager you hire will consult with you and then prepare a customized list to keep you on track for your move goals, whether the move is in one year or three months, upsizing or downsizing, domestic or international. Action lists will include sorting, space planning, and more!
Listen in to MaryKay's take on "grouping" to help make more rapid progress:
Here are a few examples, so you can get the idea of how grouping can help:
- Perhaps with your move you want a reset on all linens (towels, pillows, sheets, etc.). You can donate those to better use and start fresh. A whole category, done!
- If moving to assisted living and there’s no oven in your suite because main meals are provided, then you have no need for any of your baking or cooking tools. Done! Well, except for an item or two that is sentimental or becomes decorative. Aprons and muffin tins anyone?
- If you are no longer in love with a collection, have dropped a hobby, or are changing lifestyles, you may let friends, neighbors, loved ones, collectors groups, or fellow hobbyists (or aspiring) know, so you can sell, donate, or rehome these items.
Work with a specialist.
Digitization and organization of legal, financial, and other documentation – family research, artwork, and photos, for example – ideally saves you from moving all of it, provides secure storage and backup storage, and make these resources available to you whenever, wherever you need them. We are not saying toss every hard copy. But digitization is your ally and creates a personal archive for you and your family to last generations.
For the physical copies you keep, professional archivists can help ensure the items are protected from the elements and remain accessible to you, like the recipe card from Grandma you’ll need the next time you want to make her famous spanakopita or when you want to redecorate and display the newspaper article you were featured in! If you don’t have someone local, you can at least shop smart for safe ways to store and display your treasured items. Explore Archival Methods and Gaylord Archival.
If your top priority is digitizing and organizing photos old and new, a professional photo organizer in your area may also be able to help get you started.
This tip is more like a strong warning: Do not overlook the adult children. Now, in your situation, you might swap out “adult child” with another family relation, a close friend, or a neighbor. The point is, who else is close to the person who is moving—or death cleaning—and may have strong feelings about what’s going where?
No one wants to watch grown adults fight over ‘stuff.’ Bring in others and do it early to avoid more emotional pain and trauma.
Know someone who is planning to move? Gift them an Artifcts membership to help them through the process and beyond!
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