Many tips on sorting through your belongings before moving house tend to sound like Seymour Skinner’s advice to Bart on licking envelopes. If it isn’t seeing how many envelopes you can lick in an hour, it’s taking on the mind numbing 12-12-12 challenge (find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, 12 items to keep!)
While clearing out your cupboard might not be ‘fun’, it can be good for you, as the rise of self-help decluttering books attests to. Without going insane and throwing out all your clothes, moving can be a great time to find ways to live simply and to reassess your consumer behaviours. First things first:
Space and design of your new home
Your first step is to look at your new home’s floor-plan. Set out where major items will go and how they will fit into your vision for the new home. Thinking about how you want to use your home will help you to decide what will be on display and accessible. Sketching out floor-plans helps you to make decisions for large items (furniture) and small items (the cheese fondue set). Once you know where the ‘on display’ items go, then look at your storage. Vacuum-seal clothes that are off-season, hang kitchen items (pots, pans, utensils) from hooks, find storage solutions that can fit with your new home’s design and if you need it and can afford it, rent off-site storage.
Take your time
People don’t decide to move homes and then do it within a week. In other words, you have time on your side so make the most of it. From the moment you realise you will be moving, spend 10 minutes each day sorting and filling those garbage bags. Think of this as a preventative measure. You don’t want to throw away something important in the midst of a panic attack the day before you move.
Split up your piles
As Seymour Skinner as this sounds, you should definitely create piles for all your stuff. This means a pile for ‘selling’, ‘donating’, ‘keeping’, and ‘trash’.
Go through the same steps you went through before moving with the items you unpack. Once you have put the major items where they belong, you may notice you have less space than you thought. Make the same decisions you made before you moved, according to the following checklist.
Checklist for every item
- Is it ‘on-display’ or behind the scenes – where will it go? How often do you use this item now? If it is at least weekly, then this affects where it should go.
- What is its value: emotional or monetary? Even if an item means a lot to you or has monetary value, this doesn’t mean it has to stay. Consider putting valuable items in the ‘sell’ pile, if you have one, and finding homes in the family for emotionally valuable items.
- What if you lose it? Give irreplaceable objects more thought. If you haven’t used the egg slicer in years, getting rid of it isn’t a disaster. TIP: just because it fits in the box without taking much space, doesn’t mean you should invite it on the move.
- Don’t overdo it. There are some items you may want to use again one day, be cautious of going too far and throwing everything out.
One man’s trash…
Remember that many things you own but don’t use might be exactly what someone else is after. Knowing that a lot of the things you might not want can be useful for real people in need can be a strong incentive to start clearing.