7 Steps to Successfully De-cluttering For a Move

I’m so glad I can relax and enjoy spring this year. Last year at this time, I was busy packing for our move later in the summer. Moving is right at the top when it comes to most people’s list of stressful situations.

But a little organization goes a long way in alleviating the stress and making the move go smoothly. I’m happy to share some simple steps that  will help you de-clutter your current home so you can enjoy your new home with a clean slate:

  1. Start now. Our tendency is to put it off until packing time, but most people are in a time crunch at that point, and will often put things in a box to deal with them ‘later’. Remember that you are paying for each item you move, not only in the time it takes to pack and unpack it, but also by the space it takes up in the moving truck. Why pay to move something you don’t really need? You’ll be busy when you move into your new home, and will probably put off going through those ‘deal with them later’ boxes indefinitely; believe me, when I work with clients, I come across unpacked boxes that have been sitting in the basement or garage for several years after a move.
  2. Take pictures of all the large items you know will not work or fit in your next home and post them on one of the resale sites online, like Kijiji, Craigslist or Ebay. You can put the extra money you earn towards your moving expenses and perhaps some pieces that fit the new place much better than your old stuff. And the nice thing about photographing them in the first place is that, if you have any sentimental attachment to the items you are selling, you can always use the pictures to trigger the memories.
  3. Go through your house one room at a time and get rid of the no-brainers first. No-brainers are items you don’t have to think twice about letting go of, like torn towels, chipped plates and broken electronics (if you haven’t fixed them by now, trust me, you probably never will). Do this every day, even if it’s just for just 15 minutes, until the task is complete. This is a great way to warm up your de-cluttering muscles and will give you an immediate sense of accomplishment and motivate you to tackle the tougher stuff.
  4. Do some research ahead of time and decide where you will take your discarded items. Although some things will be garbage, most items can be donated or recycled. You will be motivated to let go of more things if you know they will be going to a cause that you believe in or disposed of in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment. Could a local women’s shelter make better use of the clothes you never wear? Find the closest drop-off location where your unused electronics can be reused or recycled safely (do an online search – there are hundreds of locations).
  5. Fight the ‘what if I need it someday’ fear. If you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you never will. For example, we wear only 20% our clothes 80% of the time. If in doubt, toss it out (or donate/sell it). On the off-chance you do need it months from now, you can always replace it, but chances are you’ll never look back. If you keep everything because of this fear, it will probably cost you much more in time, money and stress than it would to replace it.
  6. Be prepared; set up your supplies in advance. For the de-cluttering process, you will need bins, sticky notes (for labeling) and garbage bags. Use bins to do the initial sort; label them ‘donate’, ‘sell’, ‘recycle’ and ‘toss’ and ‘keep’. When the bins get full, transfer the contents into bags. Use clear bags for items that will be donated and opaque bags for garbage, so there’s no confusion. Arrange for a charity to come and pick up the donations or drop them off yourself before the end of the week (you can always go back again as you accumulate more items to donate). Give yourself a deadline on the ‘sell’ items and have a plan for the items that don’t sell (i.e. donate). Transfer the ‘keep’ items directly into the moving boxes.
  7. Get the whole family involved. Everyone should make decisions on their own things when it comes to determining what to keep and what to let go of. But a little competition never hurt, so make a game of the de-cluttering process. Set a timer, give everyone a bin, and put some up-beat music on to make it fun. Choose a token prize for the winner who got rid of the most items and a reward for the entire family for the effort each member put in.
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