The Un-Hoarder: How to Use a Move to Organize Your Life and Home

move-to-organize-your-life

You just bought your dream home in lovely Seattle – congratulations!

Very soon you’ll be moving years and years worth of accumulated belongings (junk?)  from one house to another.  Whether you’re making an across-town move or joining the Emerald City from across the country, moving can be an arduous task. Many people dread packing more than any other part of the moving process. But, it can be extremely freeing if it is handled it correctly. If you use packing as an opportunity to de-clutter you may end up loving the results.

How?

As you pack, take the time to figure out if you really need that item in your new home.

Do you really want to keep that ceramic cat statue that you impulsively bought at a garage sale five years ago? What about that Magic Bullet that you’ve used all of three times in the last five years?

The less you take with you to you new home, the more organized and efficient your new home will be. And – bonus! – You can even make a little extra cash by selling stuff that you no longer need.

Here’s a step-by-step process to get you started.

1 – Know the Japanese KonMarie De-Cluttering Method

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo wrote a bestselling book about de-cluttering. In it, she has unique advice: center yourself, clear your mind, and hold an item in your hand. Then, ask yourself one simple question – does this item bring me joy? If it does, keep it; if it doesn’t, either sell it or give it away. It’s that simple. Now, you may have to use a little common sense: is a vacuum going to bring you joy? Probably not, but you obviously need it. But that porcelain cat? No joy, no spot in the new home.  

2 – Use The Time Test

When it comes to clothes, kitchen appliances, and other gadgets there is another test you can use. How long has it been since you last used it? For clothes, if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it. Many people, women especially, tie emotion to their clothing because they wore a certain piece at a certain function and that function brings them fond memories. But that’s no reason for something to be taking space in your closet – you have pictures for memories. For kitchen appliances, you can follow the same rule. Resist the voice in your head yelling, “Yes, but I might wear/use/want to use it again! What then?!?!” Chances are if you haven’t used something in a year or more, you won’t miss it.

3 – Pack One Room at a Time

Now that you know how to determine whether you are keeping something it’s time to pack. Do it intentionally – without the TV on, without distracting music. Make sure that you have the time to focus and figure out what you really need and want to keep. Pack up one room at a time, and preferably one room all at once. Do your kitchen, then your office, then your living room, etc.

4 – Separate Items Into Keep, Donate, or Sell

You know what you are doing with your “keep” items – neatly packing them into a clearly labeled box to be moved into your new home. For those items that do not bring you joy or that you haven’t used in over a year you need two piles: donate and sell. If there is any chance that you can make a little money, why not do it? The other pile is for stuff that you know is going straight to charity. Make sure you mark your “keep” boxes with clear labels for easy unpacking in the new house.

5 – Sell, Sell, Sell!

There are two options that can actually be used in conjunction when it comes to selling stuff: Hold a garage sale while simultaneously listing items on Craigslist or other swap-n-shop sites (there are plenty out there; Facebook even has a Marketplace now). You can usually get more money on a swap site, so try that route first. Give it a couple weeks before moving on to the garage sale, where you can lower the price of items that didn’t sell. Make sure to list the garage sale on Craigslist and garage sale sites as well. After the garage sale, anything that doesn’t sell goes to charity.

With a little effort, you can free your future home of unnecessary items and start your life there with an organized space. The benefits of living with less clutter are huge: you will save time because things are organized and you know where to find them, you will have money in your pocket because you got rid of things you didn’t need, and you will have that Zen feeling that comes with a clean and organized space.

Tips Brought to you by our movers in Seattle.