Raise your hand if this sounds familiar. You've just decided to move to a new place. You're unbelievably excited and enthusiastic. Then, almost as soon as the rush of delight came on, reality sets in for you. You look around, with a growing sense of dread, at all of your stuff, the stuff that now needs to be packed into a box, hauled into a moving truck, and moved. Just thinking about it makes you want to change your decision about moving, and you haven't even started the process yet.
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We've all been in situations like this. Somehow, unbeknown to us, our stuff piles up in drawers and hidden corners so that when it comes time to pack it up, the job seems overwhelming. Where did it come from? When did we buy it? We always knew that decluttering and downsizing your home and life was necessary, but could never get ourselves to actually do it. Well, the good news is that it's never too late to begin our decluttering efforts, which will no doubt dramatically lessen the number of boxes we'll have to schlep down the stairs on moving day.
Ready to get started? Here are 7 useful tips:
1. Start Early
It doesn't matter if you're moving next month, six months from now, or you don't even have any plans to move. Start decluttering today. I know it's tempting to continue to put it off as you tell yourself you'll do it once you've moved into the new place. But think about it: why go through all the hassle of moving your stuff only to eventually get rid of it? When you do move, you'll save a ton of money by doing it now because you'll need fewer boxes and a smaller truck.
That's also fewer things you have to waste your physical and mental energy on when hauling stuff back and forth. Lastly, not only will you have drastically simplified your life, but downsizing and decluttering will also help you make giant progress towards making your house one of those energy efficient homes you've always wanted by allowing you to move into a much smaller space.
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2. Start Small
Looking at a house full of stuff you need to sort through can be really dispiriting. I know, I've been there too. This is why you need to start small. Focus on areas like your bedroom closet, or the living room media cabinet. Don't try to do an entire room at once unless you've already won a Blue Ribbon for Decluttering. Trying to tackle a huge space, especially if you have a lot of items to sort through, is draining and might extinguish your motivation. Small spaces over a longer period of time give you a sense of accomplishment because they can be completed in a matter of hours. Looking at the progress you made, and the pile of junk that's getting donated, will keep you motivated and excited about the next session.
3. Be Prepared
Before you get started decluttering an area, make sure you have everything you'll need right there. This includes several boxes (one for trash, one for recycling, one for donations, one for "thinking about" items), a shredder, plenty of water, and some great tunes to keep your spirits up.
4. Put It to the Test
My last move involved going from a nice-sized home to a small loft. All my stuff had to go up three flights of stairs since there was no elevator. I examined every item in my home and asked "Do I want to carry you up three flights of stairs?" Most of the time, that answer was "no." I got rid of more than half of my possessions using this simple question. Look at the items you own and ask yourself if you love it enough to pack it up, carry it out to the truck, and haul it up the stairs. You can even pretend you've got to haul it up three whole flights, like me.
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5. Hit the Kitchen
Go through your kitchen and throw out anything with an expired date or that has gone stale (this especially goes for spices, which usually don't last longer than 6 months to a year). Use this time to also get rid of any cookbooks you haven't cracked open in the past year, and any strange kitchen gadgets you really don't have a use for.
6. Keep Going
Make decluttering part of your everyday routine. Set up a Donate bin in your bedroom closet. Every day, find at least one thing to put in there. Do you have a pile of unwanted gifts you've received over the years that you'll never use? Add those to the pile too! When it gets full, take it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. As another option, if you decide to make money online selling these unwanted products through e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, you'll be able to develop some awesome passive income stream opportunities.
7. Deep Cleansing
It's also important to set aside time, at least every weekend, to do deeper decluttering. Mark this time off on your calender so you don't forget. And, make it fun! Promise yourself a reward, like dinner out with a friend, after you're done with a weekend session. This will help keep you motivated. What are your thoughts on decluttering? Do you have any good strategies that have worked for you when trying to decide what to throw out and what to keep?