Decluttering before you move

Chances are somewhere in your home is a big cup full of pens. Pens with business names, ballpoint tips, felt tips, clickable and capped pens, black and blue ink, and a few pencils. It’s usually a plastic cup, but it sometimes a large glass or a mug. Once in a while it’s a shallow box at the front of a drawer bursting with pens. Whatever the variations are, you probably have one right now.

Now imagine your life without that cup of pens.

We all accumulate little things here and there over time. A lot of those things are useful, but only up to a point or for very specific circumstances. The life you imagined without that cup of pens should not be any different because you would still have other pens to use.

However, when you move, every item adds weight and volume to your boxes, regardless of the item’s actual usefulness. That’s one of the many reasons generations of people have used moving time as a chance to get rid of excess stuff.

The trick is convincing yourself that you can get rid of perfectly good items, many of which you paid for with real money. Let that thought go and ask yourself if the item is doing you any good today, or if it’s just taking up space.

Here’s some more good questions to ask yourself: Do I have something else that does the same thing as this item? Do these clothes actually fit me anymore and how often do I actually wear them? When was the last time I used this thing? Is this a broken thing I said I’d fix but never did? If I lost this item would I even bother to replace it? Is this a nostalgic item I could take a digital photo of instead of keeping?

Try leaving your home and imagining that you lost everything and had to start over. Write down what you would need – everything from a toothbrush to a bed frame. Be specific, and add anything you would like to have, like your photo albums. When you get home look very hard at the items that you did not include. If you forgot about them, perhaps they’re not so important after all.

What you actually do with the excess stuff is up to you: Moving sales, Craigslist ads, donations to thrift stores and landfills are all popular choices (Usually in that order). The important thing is to get rid of it. In time, your place can look more like something from an interior design magazine with lots of free space and simple, clean rooms.