We all have things we no longer need – or things we purchased that we never really needed in the first place. The time before a move is an excellent opportunity to look around and decide what you would like to keep and what is just excess baggage. Think about it: through decluttering you will end up with less to clean, items you can sell, less things to pack for the move, a quicker unpack when you get to your new house, and according to many professional organizers—more joy.
Too much junk!
For example, how many food storage containers do you have in your cupboards? How many of these have lids? Do you also have clothing that no longer fits or clothing too unfashionable for you to ever wear again? Shoes you haven’t worn for years, tax files dating back to the mid-80s, a broken food processor and its useless accessories? Maybe you have an old computer you meant to sell via Kijiji or eBay or a chair that you’d planned to get re-upholstered one day? It is probably about now that you are realizing that the great deal from the garage sale may not have been worth the $5. It is going to costs so much more in time or money to dispose. And—what about those boxes that were never unpacked after your last move?
Don’t worry. This is a common first world problem with a long history. The following quote is from 1928:
“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”
A study reported in the LA Times newspaper found that there are 300,000 itemsin the average American home. Imagine that—THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND THINGS! No one has bothered to count the number of things in Canadian homes, but I doubt there would be much difference if they did.
Because we have so many things, it’s not surprising it’s hard to keep track of the items we actually need amongst all that stuff. A UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported that over the course of our lifetime, we will spenda total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items. The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 things in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list.
Declutter for Peace of Mind
And we move this stuff from apartment to apartment, house to house. But this time – decide not to do it! Why lug around boxes of material that clutter your house AND cost you extra money in moving costs to transport?
So before you move, take an inventory of your possessions. An inventory is a great tool for many reasons. It will make it obvious where you have duplications (like the old sofa that is covered with a blanket in your basement) plus it will be helpful for insuring your belongings. There are many apps that can help with this. To find some, click here. You’ll also find that spreadsheets, like Microsoft Excel and Numbers for the Apple crowd, include templates that will also help you log what you own.
Maybe it’s time to have a garage sale or just donate items that you don’t use to Value Village or to a charity. Someone else just might have use for your complete Seinfeld TV Series CD set now that you’ve memorized every scene. Recycle or sell whatever you can.
A decluttered place will bring you peace of mind, and it will be like a fresh start in your new home. Wouldn’t you love to have a place for everything that you need and use so that once you use something you can put it back in its own special place?
But Where Do You Start?
One of the hottest organizational experts right now is Japan’s Marie Kondo, whose 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizingled to a whole lifestyle of sparking joy through clearing up, has trained many professional organizers who can help you if you feel stuck. Should you want a referral to such an organizer, be sure to contact me. Kondo suggests, in her videos and through courses on her website that you declutter in this order.
- Miscellaneous Items, including mementos
She also suggests you say “thank you” to each item as you send them on to their new home.
So first ... STOP SHOPPING! If you are going to bring something new into your home, really question whether it will just be another thing to throw out in a couple of weeks or months or the next time you move.
And keep your receipts so you can take things back.
For more tips on decluttering and moving, please email your ICM professional mover at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone number (416) 656-8924. Please subscribe to our quarterly newsletter where we regularly provide tips on packing, moving day, and beyond.