Unfuck Your Habitat

You're better than your mess.

Recent Tweets @TeamUfYH
Posts tagged "moving"
Hi UFYH! Do you have any packing/moving tips?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:
Hi UFYH, my father passed away last week. My mother and I can't afford to keep living in the apartment we rent out, so we will eventually have to move. That involves downsizing a lot of furniture and a lot of belongings, a lot of my dad's trinkets and clothes. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, on top of trying to process all my feelings and be there for my mother. Any advice on how the hell to tackle a project of this magnitude?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss, and you should be really proud of yourself for trying to keep it together for your mom and to try to get your living situation under control. That said, remember that it’s totally OK to be overwhelmed, or to have moments (or days or weeks) when you can’t be as strong as you want to be. That’s totally normal, and don’t beat yourself up for it.

As far as the practical side of things, ask your mother to tell you what of your father’s things are most important for her to keep. Put those things aside. You may want or need to have someone else come in and deal with your dad’s stuff, if neither of you is in an emotional place to handle it. Just give yourself veto power over what gets taken out of the apartment.

Figure out what furniture you need to keep. Make a list or mark the pieces in some way. From there, use Craigslist or Freecycle or any of your local donation centers, most of which will do a curbside or even in-house pickup.

Be methodical. Work on one area of one room at a time. Ask yourself if the item you’re considering will be needed or have a place in your new home, and if it has enough sentimental value to keep if the answers are no. Make regular trips to the trash or recycling, and schedule regular pickups from or drop-offs at donation centers so you can move things out of your apartment once you’ve made a decision on whether or not to keep things.

Give yourself some time. It doesn’t sound like you’re under a time crunch for moving, so don’t make too many hasty decisions about your dad’s stuff until you’ve had time to process everything that’s happened. You may be able to come back to some things later with a different perspective.

Most importantly, take care of your mom, but also take care of you. Let yourself grieve when you have to and be distracted when you need that, too. Don’t neglect your own feelings and well-being. You can do this. Check in anytime for support.

So, you’re moving. Fun! No, wait. The opposite of that. Moving sucks, but there are things you can do to make it suck maybe a little less.

  • If you can, start early. Don’t think, “Oh, my move is ages away. There’s nothing I can do this soon.” That is not good thinking. That is the kind of thinking that leaves you crying in the middle of your half-packed kitchen an hour before you have to load up the truck. If you know you’re moving, start now. Yes, right fucking now.
  • Gather supplies. Don’t worry if you can’t acquire ten zillion boxes all at once. For now, make sure you have at least a few boxes, some large garbage bags, a few permanent markers, packing tape, paper for wrapping breakables, more garbage bags, and plenty of water. Seriously. Stay hydrated.
  • Figure out your system. Lots of people will tell you to color code your boxes, or make a master list of box numbers and what’s in each one. However, we live in the real world where that kind of bullshit is just not going to happen. You do want to know what’s in your boxes, though, so my personal system is to write the room the box goes in on the outside of the box, and then a quick inventory of what’s in it, right on the box. So, rather than ten boxes that say “Kitchen,” your boxes will say, “Kitchen: gadgets drawer, plastic containers, wine accessories,” and “Kitchen: wine glasses and sangria pitcher.” Or whatever.
  • Because you’ve so awesomely started as early as you can, you can actually sort through stuff as you pack. DO NOT PACK ANYTHING THAT YOU KNOW YOU WILL NOT WANT OR USE. Do not move what will eventually become garbage. Toss, recycle, or donate those things that will not be coming with you to your new place.
  • Start with the stuff you don’t use often. If you can survive without it until your move, pack it up.
  • You can pack dishes and glasses and such before the last minute. Leave out one set of dishes, silverware, and glasses for each person in your household and pack the rest. In your final packing hours, pack all of that into one box and label it so you know to open it first so you have something to eat off of in your new place.
  • Work methodically. Start in one room, with one surface, shelf, or cabinet, and pack until the box is full and ready to be sealed and labeled. If you jump around a lot, you’re going to get frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Garbage bags work great for soft goods (pillows, clothes, whatnot); HOWEVER, make sure that they are clearly marked so they don’t end up in the trash. If you can get your hands on clear bags, even better.
  • TAKE BREAKS. Let me repeat that. TAKE BREAKS. Moving is overwhelming and shitty, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself throughout the process.
  • Once a box is packed, taped, and labeled, move it to a designated spot that’s near where the boxes will exit your current home. No sense in moving stuff twice.
  • Clean as you go. Once you have an area packed up, clean it, so you don’t have a last minute, total-home cleaning frenzy.
  • Work on packing every single day. Even if your move is far away, make it a goal to pack one box or work for 20 minutes every day. When you start missing days, it’s really hard to get back into the habit.
  • This is pretty common advice, but in case you haven’t heard it yet, pack a box that’s all the stuff you’ll need when you first arrive in your new place. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, shower curtain liner, sheets, soap, etc. You don’t want to have to be tearing through boxes looking for that stuff after you’ve just moved. Trust me.
  • Once you’ve moved, unpack as thoroughly as possible. Avoid having boxes that stay unpacked for two years after you’ve moved. Just like when you were packing, work every day on unpacking. Aim for a box a day, and that means fully empty it, and break down and recycle or store the box.

You can do this. It’s a totally shitty process, but everyone goes through it, and if you’re prepared and give yourself time and a system, you’ll survive it. But you have to start now. Right now.

No, seriously.


So, moving on Sunday. There’s been quite a lot done. There are no before and after pictures of the kitchen or living room, but I do have them of my bedroom. 


I could not even cope, it was nuts. This was even after we’d started.

But today!


Pardon the photo-bombing cat.

Four more days and a wake-up.


before & after of moving/unpacking/settling in

i’ve been waiting to show this off; it’s been about a month in the making. but i’m finally fucking done!!!


Remember those nine bags of books that I had set aside to donate? This past Saturday, my sweet neighbors helped me lug the bags to the library (where the librarian was very happy to get them), as well as to take six bags of clothes, shoes and purses/tote bags to a donation center; as well as shred several boxes’ worth of papers to leave in the recycle bin.

What you see above is what remained in my bookcases, plus my CDs and software (mostly games, I admit—the Sims, man. The Sims.) and DVDs. (All but a few I left out to watch while I finish packing, since my cable is scheduled to end on Friday.)

Picture #3 is my to-do list. I’m trying to get the movers scheduled for next Tuesday. Meantime, STILL SO MUCH TO DO OMG. Plus voting. (I did get the car registered, though. Need to erase that.) As you may see in the office picture, I’ve rather let things get away from me in the last few years. 

But I have five empty bookcases now. That’s more than I had this morning.


Above is the fruit to today’s labor: seven nine (I can count, really) bags of books (and two of clothes) to be donated.

I have the opposite problem of most UFYH’s followers: I need to pare down, declutter and organize for moving at the end of the month. I intended to do this over the summer, and then at the end of June (mere days after making my Plan of Attack list, too) messed up my back so badly (slipped disc led to sciatica) that I basically spent all of July and August lying on my stomach, unable to move more than necessary.

September, while I’ve been improving in the mobility area, was also a really bad month emotionally and mentally and I accomplished basically nothing. No excuses for that, merely fact. 

But now the moving deadline is upon me, the lease expires on the 31st, and I need to get my stuff reduced to fit into the shared house where I’ll be living next. (With family. Favorite family, too, so I’m looking forward to it.)

Today, though, after getting word that I’d been turned down for yet another job (unemployment anniversary coming up soon, too. *sigh*) all I wanted to do was INTERNETS FOREVER in my bathrobe. Instead, I decided it was time to Get Something Unfucked.

First, made some iced tea. Because iced tea is delicious.

Next, put on my Motivational T-Shirt of Awesome, which is from a college English class on Irish literature where we celebrated Bloomsday. It has Molly Bloom’s most famous line on the back: “yes I said yes I will yes.” 

AND THEN. As you can see above, nine bags of books that will go to the local library. If they don’t need them for their collection, they’ll be sold at their yearly fundraiser. Either way, win.

So now I have had some iced tea, the iPod is playing my Absolute Favorites playlist, and then I’m going to figure out the plan of attack for the rest of the week.

(Not pictured: the three bags of paper that I took out to the recycle bin prior to working on the books, that had been sitting by the front door for about two weeks.)

[UfYH note: this post mentions verbal abuse]


I’ve been following Unfuck Your Habitat for about a month and let me just say, that blog, and its whole philosophy, is a godsend. When i first saw it, i thought UFYH was aimed at super epic bachelor style slobs, but it probably has just as much if not more benefit for anxiety types like me. Here’s what shaped my pre-UFYH attitude towards cleaning: my mum thinks her house should always look like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine or something, so she was always a huge guilt-inducer about fastidious cleaning; but I seem to have inherited from somewhere a penchant for hoarding. (obviously this has cleared up as I’ve moved towards a more spiritual path and learned to live in the moment and not be bound so much by physical gains). Then I moved interstate, and became poor. Like, pension poor. So I hoarded every piece of shit I had, in case I could use it for something later, because in my mind I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay for necessities, let alone luxuries. Then I was in an awful relationship where I was the only one in the house who cleaned, the place was a mouse-infested pigsty, and yet the abusive partner tried to use my efforts towards cleaning as fuel for his violent fire against me (every time I picked up a broom I was a “uptight bitch”, washing dishes would earn me a “can’t you ever fucking sit down and just do nothing?”) A couple of years down the track I’m working on finding a way around my perfectionism and anxiety traits to live a beautiful life. My perfectionistic traits don’t play out like “everything must be perfect! Go go go!”, they play out more like “well, that’s never going to be perfect, see, you fucked it up already, why even try. Give up now cos it’s ruined.” and then that’s when the anxiety kicks in. So, yeah, I’m not an epic slob, but I do sometimes have trouble knowing where to start, because as soon as I begin, the volume on the internal battle gets turned up, and despite my best efforts at yoga and meditation I’m not yet an enlightened being!, so I do sometimes succumb to those voices in my head instead of just observing them.
UFYH has been such a HUGE paradigm shift because it’s a) helped me stop marathon cleaning, which erases the guilt about having a break b) encourages me to start somewhere, anywhere, just start! And c) to recognise no, we don’t all live in a magazine, it’s okay to have your own standards, and it’s more than ok to get support and acknowledgement.

Anyway, I’ve been moving house (slowly, over a week or so, as there’s no time limit yet, which helps!). I’ve been using the 20/10 principle which is honestly keeping me sane (20minutes cleaning/organising and then a 10 minute break). It’s made the job so much more approachable and achievable - I don’t HAVE to do a whole room at once before I break. I just take a few loads to the car. Who knew I could have a break before I was finished? Old me certainly didn’t! I can take a breather and have a drink BEFORE I become a hyperventilating, sobbing mess on the floor amongst all my possessions? Really? Huzzah! This method has shut up both the internal critic and the panicker, that’s for sure :)
My unexpected spiritual moment came yesterday, when I suddenly realised I’d been quite “Tao” all day.
My boyfriend loves Taoism - he explained it to me as non-resistance, just letting things happen. Stuff gets done, without you really having to do anything.
I did not get it. No part of old me could understand this.
But, yesterday, after unpacking, organising, washing, cleaning, cooking…and feeling like I’d been having the most chilled, relaxed day…I got it. I finally understood what Tao meant. I was living the tao! All from just doing, instead of over thinking. Putting work into manageable chunks. Not being a perfectionist or a critic. It was magic.
Everybody with perfectionism or anxiety: do yourself a favour, follow Unfuck Your Habitat.

Hi! I am currently trying to start packing for my sophomore year of college. Last year I brought a ton of stuff I never used/wore, and I really don't want to do that this year. Problem is, thinking about all that is making me very stressed out, and so far I've just been avoiding the packing altogether. I'm also really worried about forgetting something vital. How can I go about this in a productive, non-anxiety-inducing way? Thanks so much.
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

Set time limits. Pack for 20 minutes, then a 10-minute break. During your packing times, you can evaluate if you think you’ll need or use each item.

Also, keep a list of “vital” things and add to it as you think of them. That way, you have something to double-check against as you pack. Take your time, don’t panic, and remember that college towns always have stores if you forget something.


So, I discovered the UFYH page last night and did some reading of the tips etc. This morning I woke up and knew I needed to keep busy (day one of quitting smoking). I decided, why not use some of these tips I learned last night to get some packing and cleaning done. Oh. My. God. I have spent about 6 or 7 hours working on this today, with 15 minute breaks every hour.


It’s a wreck! It was so messy that just walking in there stressed me out, forget trying to get anything done. Oh, but wait until you see this… Not seen in the following pictures are a gigantic bag of trash and an even bigger bag of clothes to be donated.



I made two big changes in my life over the last month. First, I moved and second I started following Unfuck Your Habitat. I’m a messy person, it’s kind of a product of the fact I am always busy, and the fact that I suffer from health issues and mild depression. So I decided that I was no longer going to be a mess. Moving into a new place was a new start, and I could start with a mostly “unfucked” palate once Jesse’s mess was cleaned up. 

So as I unpacked, I cleaned things up.  Boxes were immediately folded and mushed together for recycling. Trash went to the trash can. Everything was put in place the first time, and I’ve been doing 20/10s every day to keep things in order. My kitchen gets cleaned EVERY NIGHT, and I don’t have a floordrobe! It’s AMAZING! This weekend I even did the Sunday challenges and skipped quite a few because I don’t have any messy drawers or hidden corners - though I admit there were some flat surfaces that needed my attention. 

My new apartment is clean, calm and best of all, I feel like I can have company over any time. I grew up in a house that was never clean. My mom is the queen of piling things up and a borderline horder. I wonder how many people grew up in the same kind of home have trouble keeping their house clean? I never really learned to not be messy. 

I am making a promise to myself that I won’t let my apartment get messy, and a goal of always keeping it “Company Ready.”

(via notgneiss-deactivated20130117)


Last week I moved across the country, Louisiana to NYC, 1200 sq ft to about 350 sq ft, big changes! I was lucky enough to be able to hire professional movers to do the actual shipping, but I did all of the packing (with copious amounts of help from my mom), and in the process got rid of A LOT of stuff. Four carfulls donated, three taken back to parents’ house for storage, plus another few to recycling and a good bit of trash. I’m going to have to do another purge once my stuff arrives, but that was a good start! The only downside of pro movers (besides the cost) is that it’s taking a long time for my stuff to get here, since they have to wait until they have a full truckload before driving across the country. The small benefit of this is that it gives me plenty of time to really clean the apartment before filling it up with my junk!

Drain Volcano

First night celebratory drain volcano!

I no longer have a disposal or a dishwasher, and I currently only have one plate, one mug, and two sets of take-out silverware…I’m getting really good at washing things immediately, instead of waiting until the end of the night, because otherwise I have nothing to eat on/with. Doing all of the dishes at the end of the night, EVERY NIGHT, was a big UFYH improvement in my life. Now I’m getting even better—hopefully that will continue after I get the rest of my stuff!

In addition to all of the regular surface cleaning, I even Magic Erased the small row of tiles in front of my kitchenette. The building is pre-war, but I think they are from the renovation in the mid-1970s, and therefore had about 35-40 years worth of grime build-up. Look at the difference! (The clean bit’s in the middle. I…hope that’s obvious!)

Clean Tile in Center

So here’s where I have two questions for Mistress UFYH and the greater Team UFYH community. Any thoughts on how to clean these two things?


Grungy Stone

This is the stone in front of the tile…Magic Eraser didn’t really help. Is there anything I can do that will get the marks and stains off without damaging the stone? (No, I don’t know exactly what material it is, sorry!)


Rusty Shower Rod

Yucky layer of rust on the shower curtain rod. My first thought is CLR, but I’ve never used it before so I don’t know if it would work in this situation. Yes, no, alternatives?

Thanks in advance!

For the rust, I’d use WD-40 and fine-grit sandpaper (very lightly). For the stone, try soaking a cloth in hydrogen peroxide, laying it on top of the stone, and letting it sit until it’s completely dry and evaporated. Some places will tell you to tape plastic wrap over the cloth and let it sit overnight. I’ve never tried that, so your mileage may vary.

I've just moved from one dorm apt. to another. I have my bedroom and bathroom completely unfucked, but the kitchen counter and coffee table are full of boxes. (I didn't want to leave them on the floor out of the way forever like the last 7 times I moved. :P) Right now I feel like just getting rid of 90% of the stuff, but I'm terrified that that's ~omg SUCH a dumb idea, I am obviously not a REAL grownup, can't even deal with OWNING shit I'll obvsly NEED someday~ *family brainwashing*. Help, plz?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

If you’ve moved seven times and haven’t taken these items out of their boxes, they’re probably OK to toss/recycle/donate. Start with the first box. Open it up, put away anything that has an obvious home. If something doesn’t have an obvious home, ask yourself if the item is worth finding a place for. If you don’t use it and have no place to put it, get rid of it. Do one whole box, then break down the box and take a break.

Repeat at a reasonable pace for the rest of the boxes. Part of being a real grownup is realizing you really don’t need all that shit.

Asker jonstarkling Asks:
Following some financial issues, Friday we learned that we were being foreclosed on. My dad has decided that the best route is to try and sell before this goes through so it's not on their credit record. The problem is my mom is a hoarder and save for my room, our house is pretty much a junk pile with pathways carved through. We have to somehow get this place cleaned up asap so we can put it on the market but it's nearly impossible to get my mom to throw stuff away. Any advice on where to start?
unfuckyourhabitat unfuckyourhabitat Said:

First off, I’m sorry. That’s a terrible situation.

Sit down with your mom. Between you and your dad, explain, without being condescending or passive-aggressive, how important it is to get stuff out of the house so that it can be ready for showings. Explain that a mess can depreciate the perceived value of a house. Give her control of the things that belong to her, but for shared spaces and such, you and your dad go to town.

If she still can’t commit to throwing stuff out, at least have her pack it up. It’s not ideal, since really, you only want to deal with items once, but these are special circumstances. You can then take those boxes and stash them, and hopefully in the future, get her to be on board with getting rid of them entirely.

Good luck, and don’t forget to take your breaks.

I’m going to be an exchange student next year in the UK. It’s not a full-scale move, and I only get to bring one suitcase and one carryon duffel. Does anyone at Team UfYH have any tips for unfucking long-term travelling/temporary moving? Other than the standard moving tips, of course ;)

Opening this one up to the peanut gallery, because you’re talking to the girl who packs six pairs of shoes for a weekend away.

What say you, smart packers?