March 19, 2014 by Jean
This is a question I get asked more and more these days, as my countdown to retirement and my move away from Gettysburg gets shorter. The answer is pretty well. Being a scheduler by nature, when I returned to Gettysburg in January for the start of my last semester of teaching, I set myself a schedule for sorting and packing up my Gettysburg belongings. Since my rented townhouse has 6 rooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms and 3 storage areas, and I had 16 weeks to get the job done, my schedule called for sorting and packing one room every 2 weeks for the first 12 weeks, with 1 week for the two bathrooms, and 1 week each for the three storage areas.
To help build momentum, I started with my easiest room, the seldom-used guestroom and then moved on to my bedroom. I should be clear that I’m not actually packing things up at this point because I still need all kinds of things for daily living. What I am doing is going through all my belongings and using little round colored stickers to sort them into four categories: Items that will go with me to Maine get a green sticker; those that need to be thrown away, get a red sticker. Blue stickers are for items to be recycled, and yellow stickers are for items to be donated. Small items to be thrown away or recycled go straight into the trash or the recycling bin for the weekly curbside pickup. Clothes suitable for donation have already been taken to the local rescue mission thrift store, and I have been taking books to be given away (several boxes of them each week) to my office where they get put out in public bookcases for anyone who wants them.
I spend Monday of each week at home working on this process, and it was easy to complete my guestroom and bedroom in two weeks each. Progress slowed, however, when I got to the third room on my schedule, my study. This wasn’t a surprise; I knew the study would be a much bigger challenge. After two Mondays of work, I had only gone through about 1/3 of what is in there. (I’m probably not the only academic who finds it impossible to throw away a piece of paper from a file drawer without looking at it first!) Rather than getting bogged down in the study, I went on to the dining room in weeks 7 and 8, and will begin on the living room next Monday (week 9). Meanwhile, I am continuing to work on the study, putting in an hour here and there in the evening and more substantial time on the weekends. I think I can finish the study by week 10 or 11, which is good because that is when I will need to go on to my other difficult room – the kitchen!
Now that I am halfway through this process, I’ve reached the point of starting to move large items out of the house. My trash collection company allows me to put out one “bulk” item per week. This week, I put out the first such item, a 40-year- old daybed mattress which has more than outlived its usefulness. Next week, the second daybed mattress (they’re from a trundle bed) will go out; and the week after that, I will put out the metal trundle-bed frame.
Meanwhile, I’m going through a similar process at work, spending 3-4 hours a week sorting through old files and books. So far, I’ve emptied several boxes of books and one file cabinet in a storage room, and today I started on the file drawers in my office.
I’m sure there’ll be a mad rush to finish all this up in the last couple of weeks before I move; but for the most part, I’m feeling on schedule and reasonably in control of it.