We overload our homes with stuff that we don't use. We have attics packed with dusty holiday decorations, garages with camping equipment, basements with old furniture, heirlooms everywhere, etc.
Many of us don't even think about the stuff we've accumulated until it's time to move. Then, in the days before we move houses, we're stuck with long, headache-inducing to-do lists.
But a little change in perspective can make moving so much easier. Think of moving as a rare opportunity — you can finally make the time to clear out old toys, collectibles, and everything that no longer serves any purpose.
It's normal to feel sad, nervous, anxious when you're decluttering — but it can also feel great to donate your old stuff and to make someone else happy. Decluttering also means that you'll start life at your new place with a clean slate and a fresh perspective.
1. Acknowledge the Emotional Baggage
Decluttering is usually tough because a lot of your belongings have emotional value. Sometimes, you have two or three versions of the same thing — and maybe this abundance makes you feel safe. Maybe your mother gave you a hand-me-down that you’d feel guilty about throwing away.
The golden rule of decluttering is to recognize that stuff is more than just stuff. If you try to analyze the emotional value of everything you throw away, you’ll realize that nearly everything matters to you in one way or another.
From there, you can evaluate what stuff matters the most, which memories you want to take with you to your new place, and which memories will stay alive without material objects.
It’s okay to take your time. Maybe put them aside for a while until you start preparing for other things.
2. Sort Your Stuff
Decluttering starts once you decide what goes and what stays. Sorting is an essential step in the moving process — especially if you're hoping for some serious paring down.
Things like kitchen utensils or technical gadgets are something that you use every day. If you haven’t used something in over six months, give it away!
The same thing goes for clothes that no longer fit you or shoes you haven't worn in the past year. You can easily buy these things if you need them in the future.
3. More Stuff = Longer Packing Time
Think about how much time you're wasting if you decide to take everything with you.
Obviously, you can only commit a certain amount of time to packing. We talked about how hard it is to part with stuff that has emotional value — but if you don't use it, you should lose it.
Think of every object as a time commitment. When you pack, everything needs to be dusted, maintained and protected from damage. Take note of how much your stuff tends to swallow your time and work accordingly.
If it's not worth extra time in your moving process, then it’s time to say goodbye.
4. Pack Easy Stuff First
If you procrastinate the decluttering process, the pressure of the task will overwhelm you. We advise you to start early. Renting a portable storage container, like a BigSteelBox allows you to take your time sorting and packing, and acts as secure storage while you’re doing it. BigSteelBox can then move your items to your new home or store them at one of their secure storage facilities for as long as needed.
To ease yourself into it, sort through your old mail or go through a laundry basket. As you work, make sure to separate your stuff into three piles: to keep, to toss, to donate. Once you've sorted everything, send these items to the trash can or a donation centre immediately. Plan for which items you'll approach next and work accordingly.
5. GiftS are Great — But They aren’t Obligations
Your friend gifted you that bright glittery "BEST FRIENDS" wall ornament, but you don't really put it anywhere. Just donate it! Just because someone gave you a gift, it doesn't mean you have to hang onto it forever.
To help you let go of your emotional attachment, write down in your journal or somewhere what your friend or family member gave you. That way, you're able to honour your relationships by remembering the thought behind each gift without keeping the clutter.