Decluttering can be a really overwhelming task, and it’s not something I had ever been particularly good at. On the rare occasion. I would summon the motivation to “declutter” I would instead go through my things and decide there really wasn’t anything I could part with. I literally can’t even count the number of times I have done that with my closet. I would go through and genuinely convince myself that I wore and needed every piece of clothing, which is clearly a big fat lie.
Fast forward to today. I’ve moved like four times in the past three years and have decided to use each of those moves as an opportunity to declutter (partially be choice and partially out of necessity because one of the moves was into a studio apartment. Needless to say, I’ve gotten pretty darn good at it! So if you’ve got a move coming up, make sure to grab these tips to help you declutter during a move.
Declutter As You Pack
For me, the easiest way to declutter was to do so while I packed. While I was tackling a certain area of the house, I would decide if things were going into a moving box or into the toss pile. This made it easy to make sure I was decluttering every space because I made a conscious decision to either keep or toss every single item as I packed.
I also found this to be helpful because attempting to pack up a certain category of items can really be a wake-up call as to how many of that item you have. For instance, it turns out that no one really needs to own as many black, white, or gray v-neck t-shirts as I owned. I feel like the kitchen is also a common culprit here and people end up accumulating like six of the same kitchen utensil when really one would suffice.
I started packing up my less-used items almost as soon as I had signed the lease on my new apartment. I moved in summer, so it was easy to get seasonal items such as winter clothing and holiday decor packed. Then I tackled books and other items I knew I wouldn’t be using before the move.
I found starting early to be super useful because then I wasn’t left rushing the last week, just mindlessly packing things into boxes. It ensured I really did have time to give each item the attention I wanted in deciding whether or not it would come to the new apartment with me.
Create a Litmus Test
I think the best way to decide what to keep and what to purge is to create a litmus test that will force you to really be honest with yourself. For example, here was my litmus test of clothes.
1. If the piece can be worn year-round, had I worn it in the last six months? If not, I donated it.
2. For seasonal pieces, did I wear it last season? For example, I purged any sweaters I hadn’t worn the previous winter and any tank tops I hadn’t worn the previous summer.
3. Does it fit? This is an obvious one, but I feel like many of us hang onto pieces of clothing that we love and think might someday fit.
You’ll have to decide on your own litmus test but a few things to look out for would be things that you’ve never used (or haven’t used in over a year), things you have doubles of, and things that were gifts from others that you kept out of a feeling of obligation but don’t believe you’ll actually use. I can definitely relate to the feeling of not wanting to offend someone. But remember that person will probably never know you threw the item away, and they also probably wouldn’t want you to maintain stressful clutter for their benefit.
Have Measurements Handy
When it comes to the larger items such as furniture, make sure to take thorough measurements of the new home so you can be sure ahead of time that everything will fit. That way, if there’s something that just isn’t going to fit in the new home, you’ll know ahead of time and can make proper arrangements to get rid of it. In the past, there have been multiple occasions where I’ve brought a piece of furniture with me during a move and ended up getting rid of it later because it just didn’t fit the space. No need to carry those extra items to your new home!
Having the measurements will also allow you to plan room arrangements ahead of time, and purchase any necessary furniture.
Find a Home for Everything
For me, the decluttering didn’t end with packing up my belongings. I also discarded quite a few items once I got to the new apartment and started to unpack. I got everything unpacked as quickly as possible and was diligent about finding homes for everything. There were several items that while I was unpacking them, I either couldn’t find a home for them or I decided we really didn’t want them after all and decided to get rid of them.
I think many people move and put boxes in storage to be unpacked at some undetermined date, and then those boxes end up moving with them again the next time around without ever having been unpacked. I was determined not to do that.
What’s your strategy for decluttering during a move (or decluttering at all)?
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