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Ask UfYH: Unpacking, One Box at a Time

Q: Do you have any suggestions specific to unfucking your habitat after a move? I moved the beginning of April but I am still drowning in a sea of boxes, and I feel overwhelmed every time I start to unpack, partly because I don’t yet have designated places for things. I also have some cognitive processing difficulties that mean I have extra challenges with starting and following through on tasks.

A: One box at a time. Cognitive processing/executive function issues often mean that a clearly defined starting and finishing point with specific steps in between can help you accomplish a task, so for each box, try using the following system:

  1. Open the box. (Try to be in the room or general area where the items in the box belong.)
  2. Take the first item out.
  3. Determine the most logical place for it. In general, this is going to be as close to where you use it as possible.
  4. Put the item away.
  5. If there are items you realize you do not want to keep, immediately dispose of or recycle the item before moving on to the next one.
  6. Repeat the process until the box is empty.
  7. Break down and recycle all packing materials and the box itself.
  8. Take a break before moving on to the next box.

After two boxes that get unpacked in the same general area, allow yourself 20 minutes to reorganize or rearrange what you’ve already put away. Give yourself a break, and then move on to the next box. Repeat until everything is unpacked.

There will be days when you get through a bunch of boxes. There will be days when you can only do one. That’s totally OK. Do try to do at least one box a day, though, so you don’t lose momentum.

You can do this.

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