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As I gear up for our 5th move in 15 months, I can honestly say that moving has gotten easier and I don’t dread it (as much) anymore. Sure, maybe I’m more used to it (or numb), but the real reason is that I’ve been decluttering like my sanity depended on it. Oh, wait…because it has. In a recent survey, 64% of people said that moving was one of the most stressful things they’ve experienced. And though moving is inevitable at times, there are ways to make it more manageable. The answer? You’ve already guessed it. Decluttering. Whether you’re moving to a new home down the street, have a big move across the state, or even just doing a spring refresh of your home, these are my top 7 easy tips on how to declutter before moving!
1. Familiarize Yourself With Facts About Clutter
Fun fact: I used to want to be a professional organizer for a living. And while my desire for beauty led me on a different path, I collected and read all the books about how to declutter, clean, and organize. Why do I tell you this? Because I love decluttering. It’s a hobby. But I know I’m in the minority.
I’ve talked with many people that would rather set their house on fire than declutter. Slight exaggeration (though I’m sure these people exist), but if decluttering is hard for you, whether you don’t see a reason why you need to or you lack motivation, then first thing first, you should familiarize yourself with facts about clutter.
If you’ve been putting off the decluttering process, there’s nothing quite like knowing that your stuff is affecting the quality of your life and brain to light a fire under you.
Here are some alarming clutter facts to get you started:
- If you have a lot of stuff in your home, it’s more than likely you’re going to feel more stress as a result. According to a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Review, clutter in the home can contribute to feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety, particularly for women.
- Believe it or not, clutter in your current home could actually be contributing to your weight gain. According to Healthline, research has shown that the stress that results from cluttered environments leads to a greater likelihood of turning to junk food as a coping mechanism.
- Too much clutter can also negatively impact your productivity and creativity. Research published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that clutter can lead to decreased performance on tasks requiring focus and increased distractibility.
- According to a Harvard Health Letter, clutter can also contribute to poor air quality and dust buildup, which can worsen allergies and respiratory problems.
If you’re a data person, keep reading clutter statistics until you feel more than motivated to make a change. Okay, I don’t want to be so negative though. Let’s highlight the benefits too!
Why You Should Declutter Before Moving
- Clearing Out Clutter Clears Your Mind: As you know by now, studies show that a cluttered environment can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. When you declutter your entire house, you free up space and eliminate distractions, making it easier to focus on the things that matter. This can help you feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed, leading to an overall sense of calm.
- Less Stuff, Lower Moving Costs: Moving is expensive, especially if you’re moving to a new city or state. By decluttering and getting rid of items you no longer need, you can significantly reduce the amount of stuff you have to move, saving you money on packing supplies, cardboard boxes, moving truck rentals, and even labor costs.
- Decluttering Saves Time: Yes, decluttering takes time, but it’s worth it in the long run. You don’t want to waste time packing things that you’ll end up throwing away later. By taking the time to declutter before your move, you’ll be able to streamline the packing process and save yourself some valuable time later on.
- Clutter-Free Home, Higher Resale Value: If you’re planning to sell your home, decluttering is essential. Potential buyers want to see your home in good condition – free from clutter and excess furniture. A cluttered home can be a major turnoff for buyers and can even decrease the value of your property.
- Enough Time for Proper Organizing: Moving can be stressful, especially if you’re in a rush. By decluttering well in advance, you’ll have enough time to organize your belongings properly, ensuring that nothing gets lost or damaged during the move. You’ll also have time to label everything clearly, making it easier to unpack and settle into your new home.
- Decluttering Helps You Let Go of the Past: Often, the clutter in our homes represents unfinished business, unresolved emotions, or past experiences that we’re holding onto. When you take the time to declutter, you’re not just getting rid of physical items – you’re also releasing the emotional weight that they carry. Letting go of these items can be cathartic, allowing you to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and clarity.
- Helps You Enjoy Your New Place Quicker: Moving is a fresh start, but also a big job and the last thing you need is to be weighed down by unnecessary stuff! Decluttering before you move will not only save you time and money, but it will also make your move less stressful and more enjoyable. By reducing the amount of stuff you have to move, you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter most, like settling into your new home and exploring your new surroundings quicker!
2. Walk Around Your House and Take a Clutter Inventory
You’ve got to get in the weeds, so to speak, to rip them out. Before you start the decluttering process, it’s important to know what you even own and to come up with a game plan. You can do this in a few different ways.
One great way is to walk your house and write down all the rooms that you need to tackle. Maybe it’s the hall closet, the pantry, the medicine cabinet, the dreaded basement, or the overflowing garage. Once you have a list of the rooms that need decluttering, you can create a game plan and start clearing them out.
Going through each room in your home and tackling one space at a time can help you focus on the task at hand and avoid getting distracted or feeling like you’re taking on too much at once.
Start with the room that you use the least or the one that has the most clutter. Set a timer for a specific amount of time, like 30 minutes or an hour, and commit to decluttering that space until the timer goes off. Then, take a break and move on to the next room.
As you go through each room, take inventory of what you have and what you use regularly. Ask yourself if each item is necessary or if it can be donated or sold. If you’re not moving, this can also be a good opportunity to reorganize your belongings and create a more functional space.
Another good way is to create a list of all the items you have. This can help you stay organized and on track with your decluttering goals. You can make a list using a pen and paper or you can use a digital tool such as Google Sheets or Trello.
To create your list, start by writing down each room in your home. Then, go through each room and make note of all the items you have. This can include furniture, clothing, appliances, books, and any other items that you own.
Once you have your list, you can start to categorize your items. For example, you might group your items into categories such as keep, sell, donate, and toss. This can help you make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.
Whichever route you go, start months before the move date if you can to allow yourself plenty of time.
3. Rent a Dumpster
Renting a dumpster is more than worth it for several reasons. First, having someone drop off and pick up a dumpster for you is way easier than taking a million trips (give or take) to the dump yourself. This convenience means you might actually declutter.
Second, you are way more motivated to go above and beyond to get rid of stuff because the opportunity and extra space are already there. (Oh, well, there’s room, so might as well…) Plus, it can be fun to watch it get filled to the top!
Last but not least, having a dumpster is a motivation to clean out and clean out quickly, because you have a time limit on how long you have the dumpster, plus, you don’t want it sitting out in your driveway too long. Not only is it an eyesore, but your neighbors might start dumping stuff in!
Of course, this only applies to the junk that’s not worth donating or selling. But take a look in your garage – you’ll be amazed at how much stuff you’ve accumulated that just doesn’t work anymore.
4. Go Through Storage Items That Are Already in Bins
Cleaning out an overflowing closet makes a lot of sense, but decluttering doesn’t just apply to the obvious. Even if things are nicely stored in clear bins in your garage, still go through every bin, box, basket, or bag. Don’t assume that just because you’ve decided to keep something in the past you still need it now.
5. After You’ve Decluttered, Declutter Again
Even though I’ve moved more in 15 months than some people move in a lifetime, I still declutter each time. It’s amazing (and terrifying) what we can accumulate! Plus, the most decluttered homes are homes that go through a regular decluttering process.
Sorry if this is bad news, but you can’t “one and done” it. Nope, you’ve got to be continually cleaning out. It’s the best way to have a clutter-free home.
Here is some good news though: It gets easier. The first major decluttering can be a scary time (sentimental items, the overwhelm, you get it), but the next time you declutter you realize, “Okay, so I got rid of that serving bowl and the world didn’t end. I guess I don’t need as much as I think!”
It gets easier and more fun to get rid of things. And you’ll find yourself being a little more ruthless since you got over the initial fear of getting rid of something and realizing it was okay.
So once you declutter, wait a month, and do it again.
6. Declutter Things You Haven’t Used or Worn in 6 Months
“But what if I get rid of it and need it again?” This is a valid question. And one you’ve probably asked yourself many times. In fact, it could be the question that paralyzes you from even getting started in the first place.
Two words for you: Don’t worry. Easier said than done, right? But the truth is, this doesn’t happen as much as you think it does. If you are not regularly using an item, why should you randomly need it in the future?
If you’ve had the opportunity to use an item and chose not to, then you don’t need it.
Read that sentence again!
This doesn’t apply to a decluttering session of Christmas items while you clean out your garage in the summer – you didn’t have the opportunity to use them that season. (But if Christmas just happened and you chose not to decorate with that 5th reindeer, then you don’t need it.)
And unless it’s an irreplaceable item, you can always get it again. That’s what I tell myself to give myself the freedom of getting rid of something.
And guess what – this did happen to me. There was something we got rid of and we ended up getting it again. And it was all okay. In all of my life, I’ve only had to rebuy one $20 item. That’s more than worth it for the hundreds of items I’ve purged.
If you’re really worried that you’ll miss something, a good idea is to put it in your storage space and see if you forget about it. If a few months later you come back to it and realize you forgot about it, then it’s a good indication that you can get rid of it for good.
Here are things I’ve recently decluttered as an example:
- A sweater dress that I didn’t wear all fall and winter – prime time to wear it and I chose not to
- Cable cords I didn’t know how to use (or even where they came from)
- Random tech things – if I was able to use all my electronics just fine without them, then they’re unnecessary
- Magazines that I already ripped out all the pretty pictures
- Clothes that I felt “meh” about. If you don’t have strong feelings for them, they’re not worth holding onto
- Old sheets – who really needs a bunch of worn, mix-matched sheets?
Now what do you do with all these unwanted items? You can have a garage sale, sell them on Facebook Marketplace, see if a family member could benefit from them, or donate them to a thrift store.
7. Pack Only What You Need
Even after you’ve decluttered your home, be uber-intentional about each item you put into a box. Don’t pack mindlessly, assuming you want everything. No siree. For every item you touch, ask yourself if you actually need it.
I’ve found that successful decluttering requires several rounds, and I usually declutter the most items in this round – because the move feels the most real at this point. You are getting ready to send it off to its new home. Is it worth the trip?
Of course, this doesn’t pertain to sentimental items and wants. I’m not saying you should only have 2 shirts because *technically* that’s all you need. Nope! This refers mainly to household items and things like random kitchen utensils.
Do you really need to pack 3 salad tongs to bring to your new house when you can’t even remember the last time you served salad? It’s easy to fall into the trap of packing everything you own just in case you might need it someday, but this mindset can quickly lead to a cluttered and disorganized new home.
If you don’t use it or love looking at it…then it’s clutter. Clean out the things you don’t love so you can enjoy the things you do!
Decluttering before a move is not just about reducing moving costs with your moving company, though that’s a big benefit. It’s about simplifying your life, reducing stress, and giving you peace of mind. And though you don’t have to be going to a new space to enjoy the benefits of a streamlined home, moving is the perfect opportunity to get this done.
But just remember, decluttering is not a last-minute event you do just once, rather it’s an ongoing process. It is a journey towards a more minimalist lifestyle, one that is more focused on what truly matters. By decluttering, you will be able to start your new home with a fresh slate and a more organized space. The best time to declutter is now. So go do that and then enjoy this new exciting time in your life!
If you’re wondering what all the moves are about, you can catch up on the journey here: A Look at the 4 Houses We’ve Lived at in 13 Months