How to Declutter when Moving

The saying goes “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, but it’s hard to tell which is which when it comes time to let go. In the frenzy of packing and moving, sorting through the clutter to save the treasure looks more like Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail. Moving doesn’t have to bring stress, nor should the overwhelming amount of accumulated stuff be intimidating. Some thoughtful planning and decisive focus will help guide you through the tasks which lie ahead: sifting, sorting, and stashing. Let’s prepare to declutter your home!

Now please do not feel slighted or criticized for having lots of stuff. We are all guilty of hanging on to things that showcase memories, display our family heritage, honor traditions, and relive amazing experiences. This isn’t really the stuff we are talking about; we are not here to tear you from your memories and family heirlooms. We are talking about the more obvious stuff.

It’s probably safe to assume you have a junk drawer. Doesn’t everyone have that one drawer in the corner of the kitchen or the dresser which serves as a lost and found for the house? It’s all the odds and ends that don’t have a designated home or storage area; it’s just kind of there. No one throws it away because they might just need whatever that round black plastic nut goes to. Extreme scenario, but you get the point. Moving takes time and money, and having a plan to eliminate unnecessary work saves both!

Have an idea.
Don’t just start walking around the house with a trash bag. Write down a systematic way to go room by room and eliminate the clutter. You need to be okay with your definition of clutter: Is it junk? Is it trash? Is it useful but rarely needed? Identify things (heirlooms, memorabilia, electronics, clothes, tools, etc.) that you use, need, love, or absolutely must have to function in your new home and put these categories on a list. This will help as you work through each room.

Have a heart.
Don’t be too hard on yourself as you start this process. The very notion of moving can bring emotional moments, and walking through your life while putting your belongings in boxes can add to the emotionalism. Don’t rush. Give yourself enough time to think through your items or sit and cuddle your first Valentine bear before donating it. Don’t trash it all but don’t save it all. Find your balance and be okay with your decision.

Have a plan.
Take two boxes and a trash bag into each room as you prepare to declutter. Label the boxes PACK and DONATE; we all know what the trash bag is for. Have the list of categories for your stuff, and sweep the room according to category. Let’s just say we started with electronics. You found three remotes, but only have one television. Upon careful study you realize they don’t all match your tv brand.

Now we stop and ask, WWMD? (what would movers do?) Now, we don’t want to draw the attention of the world’s recycle police, but personal opinion would be to trash the two that don’t match. But…you determine what your conscious is okay with. Move to the next item. A bunch of random cords stuffed into the drawer of the entertainment center. Repeat the process of identifying their functionality and if the VHS player they go to is worth toting to the next place. Totally your call.

Follow this process for each of the categories your identified, making sure you finish one room at a time. As you pack your boxes, label them with the room and contents. It will save you so much time as you unpack.

Have some common sense.
You are going to need several things right up until the day you move, so be sure that your haste to declutter doesn’t leave you stranded. Don’t pack the cleaning supplies. Or personal hygiene needs. Or all the clothes, bedding, or towels. You will need some of that to get your through until the move. Do get rid of broken toys or donate duplicates. Do pack books or magazines, but don’t pack important paperwork. Have a filing box for bills, important papers, moving contracts, etc.

If you come across an item that brings painful memories, consider trashing or donating it. You don’t want negative energy slowing you down or dampening the excitement of a new home. Allow your new home to be a fresh start.

Although it seems like a monumental task, taking the decluttering process room by room makes it manageable and gives it purpose. Take your time and allow yourself to unwind and decompress between rooms or even boxes. Get your family or friends involved and share the work. By planning and organizing your home as you pack and prepare to move, you will have a much easier time transitioning into your new home.