Jul 23, 2021 by Wendy Hoke

Decluttering Your Home Before Moving

Even with early preparation, moving your household goods can be stressful. It’s also a great time to declutter your home so you don’t move the stuff you never use. If you have lived in your home for a long time, you may need extra time to sort through what you want to eliminate.

If you are a minimalist, your job will be much easier, but most of us accumulate as much stuff as will fit into our space without even realizing it. Below are our suggestions to reduce the stress of moving.

1. Establish clear criteria for what to keep and what to eliminate.

For instance, you may decide to move with only books that you actually intend to read within the next six months. Or you might choose to leave behind furniture that no longer brings you joy. Keep in mind that moving companies base part of their fees on the weight of the household goods that go into the truck. This may help you let go of heavy items that have been stored away in the garage for years.

2. Make a central list of projects with action steps.

Invest a bit of your time making a comprehensive list of projects such as tackling the garage. Don’t rely on jotting down notes on used envelopes or napkins. Find a central place or an organizing tool that will allow you to collect all of your to-dos in one system. If you are a fan of lists, a paper list, a spiral notebook or a spreadsheet will work just fine. The key is to keep all of the action steps in one place and make it accessible to all of the members of your household.

Digital options for capturing your moving plan:
Spreadsheets – a very simple way to create lists is to create a spreadsheet in Excel, Numbers (Mac), or Google Sheets. All of these allow you to sort by any column in the spreadsheet. Information to include might be the task, the person responsible, a target date, and a column to indicate whether the task has been completed. One big advantage of using a Google sheet is that it can be shared with others.
Applications for task management. There are many applications that allow you to manage tasks or to-do lists on your digital devices. This can be something like notes in an online calendar or a task management app.

3. Declutter your storage spaces first.

Decluttering storage areas will be easiest because much of the stuff in storage spaces is seldom used and will therefore be easier to make decisions about. We recommend preparing to move by first decluttering and organizing your attic, garage, or basement. Bonus: After you have decluttered these areas, you will have space to store boxes that have been packed and labeled.

4. Organize by the final destination of each large item

You can use a simple color system to identify where each item will eventually end up such as:

Yellow – going to the new home
Green – recycling or donation
Blue = Trash

Color dots can be very helpful for larger items that are spread throughout the home. For collections of smaller items, create “zones” in the home where you gather things that were to go to specific locations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or another charity.

5. Arrange a donation pickup (or several!)

Do yourself a favor and set up donation pickup dates with any of the charities that offer pickup services. Setting these dates both saves you a trip to drop off your items, and gives you a deadline by which you must make progress in your decluttering. Besides, by donating items to an organization that helps others, you can feel good about letting go of your things.

6. Label. Label. Label!

Use sticky notes, masking tape, painter’s tape, or other inexpensive labeling products to make note of any items that have been packed or zones you have created. This will not only help you to remember where to stash things but will allow others to help you out. This also makes it much easier to unpack when you arrive at your new home. When your boxes are clearly labeled with their contents and the rooms they belong in, it’s easy for your movers to place items and for you to unpack them!

Get an early start and tackle small areas rather than trying to declutter the entire house in a single day. You will be much more organized and prepared for moving day.

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