When Christa Curtis first fell in love with home organization, she was tackling her own home and closets. What she discovered was both a passion and a talent for helping others get their belongings in order, especially around military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves.
Now she owns Permanent Change of Storing, a company that helps clients walk through their home organization challenges with a special focus on the tips and tricks that are useful for military life. She joined Military.com on episode four of the PCS with Military.com podcast to share some of her best insights.
Listen now: Purge or Pack? Organizing Your Home Around a PCS (with Christa Curtis)
Here's four tips she shared.
Sort through everything you own -- but not in one sitting. The idea of going through all of your belongings in one go is really daunting, Curtis admits. But the task becomes much more manageable if you tackle it incrementally. Rather than sorting through all of your home today or as you pack, start doing so as you move from one season to another. For example, as the weather changes and you put away your winter or summer clothes, sporting goods and home items, sort through them to make sure you're only keeping what you actually want and use. Curtis calls this concept "seasonal switches." "It's this little trick that I have, and I teach it to my clients," she said. "I kind of line it up with, you know, summer, spring, winter, fall, but also a little bit with holidays and going back to school and summer starting."
Sorting through her family's items that way, she said, saved her from doing it ahead of their recent move.
"I could easily get rid of a lot of that back in August 2020 ... rather than holding on to it until, what, six, four weeks before the movers were coming and realizing, ‘Oh, we're not going to use any of this because they've outgrown it.’ And then I have to get rid of it then."
When in doubt, go for the storage bins. With a focus on picking a single bin style and sticking with it, Curtis said she pre-packs much of her own household goods in large clear, plastic storage bins with color-coded labels organized by room or type. Having those already done when the movers come means they can take a look inside if needed, and then wrap or box them up. This method eliminates the problem of packers placing odd things, such as your wedding dress and your printer, together in any given box. It also makes delivery day easier, she said.
"I know sometimes boxes get moved to the wrong room, and the movers just drop them anywhere," she said. "But it really helps for you to be able to see that color and go, 'Oh, no, this actually goes in the baby's room versus the master bathroom.’"
Find and use a planner and binder system. Similar to advice from Megan Harless given in episode one of PCS with Military.com, Curtis said her planner and PCS binder are lifesavers for any given PCS problem. And when it comes to home organization, it allows a handy place for her to keep her inventory list and packing schedule.
"I really, really, really love planners. And so like whenever I'm moving, I always have my PCS binder or big envelope with every single scrap of paper that we probably need in the next few weeks, over the course of the move, in that folder, all in one place," she said. "And in there, I also keep a calendar that just kind of helps me really help know when I'm going to be pre-packing each room, you know, figuring out when we're going to be moving into the next place, and then kind of even plan out a little bit how I'm going to unpack."
Plan your unpacking strategy. While you might plan to have your entire home shipshape just a few days after delivery, when the moment comes, it could feel hard to get started, Curtis warned. To avoid that, she advises her clients to prepare with an unpacking priority list.
"It's nice to think that you're going to get unpacked in like three or four days and get it all settled and everything," she said. "I hear all the time that the hardest thing about getting organized is knowing where to start. And if you don't even have a bit of a plan to go with the idea of what you're prioritizing, that's going to be your biggest roadblock to even getting started."
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