Packing & Moving

Preparing for a Move: How to Declutter & Minimize

April 13, 2017
Couple packing in the living room

It pays to know the difference between your treasure and your trash, particularly when it comes to moving. No sense in hauling what’s effectively dead weight, right? But the process of determining—and purging—what doesn’t hold personal worth can carry a fair degree of murk and uncertainty. Does this have lasting sentimental value? How much of something is too much? Won’t I need this someday? After all, you’re not just organizing random objects; you’re organizing your life.

But rest easy. Many have emerged from the decluttering process to report a sense of relief, even happiness—a phenomenon that’s been extensively written about in popular bestsellers like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (The author’s minimalist organizing methods are widely known by the term KonMari.) The reason is quite simple: less baggage, literal and figurative, sets you on the path to a more stress-free and satisfying move. To help you get started, we’ve listed a few decluttering tips, leaning toward the minimalist side of the spectrum, that may transform your life well after you’ve settled into your new home.

1. Knock it out in a day, if possible.

Stringing out the decluttering process over a prolonged period of time can lead to mental fatigue. (I just want this to be done already.) If possible, set aside one day to cover the house from top to bottom. Cue up your favorite tunes, brew a pot of tea or coffee and get in the zone. By the end of the day, you’ll be amazed by your home’s transformation, and remaining objects will be properly organized for a streamlined packing experience later on.

2. Proceed by type of item instead of room.

Form a game plan based on what categories of objects you have to sort (e.g. shoes, papers, books, memorabilia). A particular type of object may be scattered throughout the home anyway, so this approach enables you to gather everything into one central place, where you can then parse out what to keep and discard before moving on to the next item.

3. Ask, Is this item really necessary?

Or as KonMari would phrase it, does an item “spark joy?” If you can’t look at something and express unequivocally that it’s necessary to your happiness and well-being, get rid of it. Simple as that. This includes gifts from friends and family. Just because you don’t keep something doesn’t mean you didn’t appreciate the gesture. (Or as Mom always says, it’s the thought that counts.)

4. Sort remaining possessions with care.

If you’ve been honest with yourself, the items that remain (i.e. what you’ll pack up for the new home) are made up only of what truly enriches your life. Thus, you’ll want to take the time to store these with care—both so that they don’t get treated like random clutter, and because it’ll make the packing and labeling process a cinch when it comes time to break out the boxes.

5. Screen incoming items.

Now that you’ve got the hang of this honest sorting process, apply it to all incoming items—anything from the mail to birthday gifts. Remember, anything you keep is one more item to pack, so filter and sort accordingly.

By dedicating a little time and sorting thoroughly, you’ll be well on your way to a smooth move. For more Moving Day preparation tips, check out the following list of handy articles, and download a free copy of our Ultimate Moving Pack!

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