It’s easy to advise “Just declutter,” but as you look at all the stuff in your house, where do you start decluttering? Here are ten questions to ask that will give you less to pack, less to move, and less to unpack.
Does it work? Anything that doesn’t work as it should is a prime candidate for getting rid of. Old electronics and appliances are prime candidates; so are broken toys, games, sporting equipment and furniture. Please do not donate broken electronics or appliances.
Do you use it? If you’re not using it now, chances are you won’t use it when you get to you new home. This includes clothes that are outdated or no longer fit, toys and games your kids have outgrown, kitchen appliances and gadgets you don’t use, and all those weird things people have given you as gifts you don’t know what to do with.
Do you have more than you need? If there’s an avalanche of plastic containers and lids every time you open your kitchen cabinet, you may fit into this category. For anything that you have multiples of (towels, sheets, kitchen things, pairs of shoes, etc.), take the time to figure out what the right number of items is. This is personal and there’s no right answer. Some people are fine with two pairs of shoes at a time, but want a clean bath towel every day. Figure out what’s right for you and your family.
Do you like it? If you hate that weird tchotchke Aunt Betty gave you, but have been hanging on to it because it was a gift and she meant well, go ahead and let it go. The same goes for clothing (especially if you like the way it looks but hate the way it makes you feel when wear it), dishes, and pretty much everything else. Sometimes we live with furniture we don’t really like because it’s expensive to replace, like couches and other furniture. Consider whether it’s worth paying to move a piece you hate, or if you’d be better off selling and buying a new one after the move.
Is it outdated and you’d be better off with a new one? This is a question to ask about electronics and computers. It may still work, but if your software is so outdated that you can’t get updates, or you can’t network it to newer items, it may be best to discard and update after the move.
Is it useful? This is not the same as do you use it. You want to know if an item is useful so that if you decide to get rid of it, you can sell or donate it. Items that aren’t useful include clothing that is torn or damaged beyond repair, parts you can’t identify, toys and games with missing pieces, and anything being held together with duct tape.
Does it add value to your life? Something that isn’t useful can still add value to your life. Sentimental items, art works and most decorations fall into this category. And some things, like kitchen appliances or other tools, that we don’t like the look of make life easier by reducing work. Strive to find the balance between all three things.
Can you see it in your new home? If you can’t envision a place for an item in your new home, or if it won’t fit, that’s a pretty clear sign that you shouldn’t move it.
Using these questions, take a couple weeks before you begin to start packing to evaluate what you own. Dig into closets, drawers, cabinets, basements and the attic to find all the hidden clutter, and start prioritizing what to keep, what to sell, what to donate, and what to recycle or throw away. It maybe time consuming, but it will make your move easier and make your new home better.