Dear Kathi,

I moved into my new home two weeks ago. I feel really overwhelmed with the move, the boxes, the unpacking and the mess created as a result. I work full time and I can’t handle the lack of organization when I get home from work. It’s a good feeling to be in a new place but it doesn’t feel very good to live in such a state of chaos.

My main question is where do I begin and how do I feel a sense of
accomplishment in the process. My place has gets dirtier and more
chaotic as I unpack. I really want to have a housewarming party but am
embarrassed by the state of affairs in my home.

I need to know what tips you can give me so I can see and feel like I am making some sort of progress. Where do I begin, I am overwhelmed.
James, San Marcos


Congratulations on your new home! Remember that there is always chaos and disarray before there is order. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

A good first step will be to put each unpacked box into it’s designated room. Line these boxes along a wall with the least amount of furniture. Take inventory of your closet/storage space before you begin to unpack your boxes. Will your closets function with the contents that you plan to store within them? If you have more items than shelves or space, consider refitting your cabinets before you unload them and purging the items that you won’t use more than once a year.

Begin unpacking the room that you will use most often. Typically this will be your bedroom or the kitchen with the living room following close behind. Spend time making one room completely clean and functional before you begin a second room. This way, if you begin to feel overwhelmed you can retreat into this room, shut the door and relax away from the chaos.

Tackle the kitchen early on so that you can start eating healthy food. Set up a pantry area to hold all of your dry goods and extra food supplies. Refer to the AddSpace column published January 27, 2005 to optimize your kitchen layout
As you empty each box, break it down. Take boxes and papers to the trash area frequently as you unpack. This will get you out of the house from time to time and the mess inside will diminish.

It pays to recruit a friend or hire a Professional Organizer as you unpack to motivate, assist, and offer fresh ideas about the storage areas within your home.

Keep in mind that without hired help, it typically takes 3-6 weeks to settle into a new home. If you work full time and/or have kids, you can add a few a weeks to that timeline.

There is nothing wrong with taking a few days off as you unpack to enjoy your new space. Creating a new home is not a marathon. It is important to maintain balance while you acclimate to your new surroundings.
If you wish to have friends over for a housewarming party before you are completely settled in, go easy on yourself and order takeout food or have a BBQ. Your friends will understand and might even offer to come back and help you finish unpacking.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer