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Project Notes: How to Declutter Before Moving

declutter before moving

I was recently contacted by a client looking for help with a large moving project.

Her goals:

  • Get her current home decluttered and presentable for listing as quickly as possible.
  • Help identify and pack belongings that won’t be needed for several months – which can then be moved over to the family’s new home (the new home, thankfully, being local).

My client, having spent the last year managing renovations on her family’s new home, was completely overwhelmed with the scope of everything on her plate and had no idea where to start. Sound familiar?

Moving IS overwhelming. Although every move is unique and has a different timeline, I thought I would share our Approach on this particular project:

Step 1. Purge

A new home is an opportunity for a fresh start. Why take anything with you that you no longer need, use, or love. Right? The perfect time to purge is before you move. It’s tempting when overwhelmed during a move to have the attitude, “I’m too busy right now, just stick it in a box and I’ll deal with it at the new home when things quiet down.” Take the time NOW and not only will you save money by not paying to move items you’ll never use, but just imagine a fresh new organized home filled only with your best loved belongings.

In this case, we made a first pass through my client’s entire home one room at a time looking for items to donate. We stuck with the easy, no brainer stuff that was easy to part with. Each day a carload of the day’s donations were taken away.  Once she saw space opening up, and felt the relief of letting go, it became easier and easier to purge. A second pass through the house produced even more.

Step 2. Sort

As we went room by room, we began to group like-items together:

  • All pens, notepads, paper clips, etc. back to the home office.
  • All books, journals, magazines back to the bookcase.
  • All keepsakes, artwork, photographs to one location for packing.
  • All toys, games, cards, etc. back to the play area.
  • All personal belongings back to everyone’s bedroom.
  • All craft and project supplies to one location for packing.
  • All tools, lightbulbs, batteries, etc. to one location for packing.
  • All notecards, gift wrap/bags and gifts to give to one location for packing.
  • All luggage, tote bags, travel supplies to one location for packing.

Step 3. Containerize

Having worked so hard to gather all like-items together, we invested in a new set of storage containers to keep our groupings together and to create uniform systems for her new home. Uniform containers stack well together and can be repurposed throughout the house as needs change.

Next, rather than packing everything into paper and cardboard boxes which would need to be unpacked and dealt with all over again on the other end – certain categories were organized and containerized straight into their final system. The pre-organized containers can simply come out of the moving box and go straight into their final home. Boom. Done!

Items we containerized and have ready for their final home:

  • Winter hats, gloves, scarves are binned and ready for the new hall closet shelf.
  • Room mom/arts and crafts/special project supplies are all separated by topic, binned, labeled and ready for shelving in new project room.
  • Office supplies are well organized and ready to be transferred straight into the new office armoire.
  • Specialty linens (everything other than daily sheets for beds) are grouped by room, season, etc. and stored in zippered linen bags ready for the new linen closet.
  • Jewelry is sorted and stored in separate containers by style and type.
  • Household utility items (tool kit, lightbulbs, batteries, etc.) are stored in separate containers ready for transfer into new mud room shelving.

We have more to do, but you get the idea.

Step 4.  Pre-Pack

In order to open up space throughout the house for listing, we pre-packed items that won’t be needed for the next several months. In this case, we have the luxury of moving packed boxes straight over to the new house. Otherwise, prepacked boxes would be stored in the basement, garage or other out-of-the-way storage area.

My client has worked incredibly hard on this project so far. Although there’s much more to do, I see the relief on her face at the end of each day as she realizes that getting her home ready to sell and moving into her beautiful new home is not only doable – but it’s no longer overwhelming.

If you too have a large moving project ahead of you and would like to take a similar approach, simply schedule a free Discovery Call to learn how we can work together.

Happy Organizing,

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