How to Declutter a House Before Your Move

Decluttering a house can feel overwhelming, but with a well-planned strategy, it can be manageable and even satisfying.  Additionally, a decluttered house is usually a much easier and less expensive house to pack and move. Here’s a step-by-step approach:

A cluttered living room
Set Clear Goals

Determine why you want to declutter and what you hope to achieve. Begin by identifying the specific areas or rooms you want to tackle and determine why you want to declutter them. Whether your goal is to create more space, reduce stress, or prepare for a move, articulating your motivations will help guide your efforts. Break down your overarching goal into smaller, achievable tasks, such as decluttering one room per week or clearing out a specific category of items. Additionally, consider setting measurable objectives, such as donating or selling a certain number of items each week, to track your progress effectively. By setting clear, realistic goals for decluttering, you’ll be better equipped to stay organized and motivated as you transform your living space.

Start Small

Begin decluttering one room or even just one area within a room. Starting small prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and allows you to see progress quickly, which can be motivating.

Use the Four-Box Method

The four-box method simplifies the decluttering process by providing a structured approach. Labeling four boxes as “Keep,” “Donate/Sell,” “Trash,” and “Undecided,” you sort through items in a chosen area, making quick decisions about each. Items you intend to keep are returned to their places, those to donate or sell are set aside, trash items are disposed of responsibly, and undecided items are revisited later. By repeating this process throughout your home, you can efficiently declutter while ensuring each item receives thoughtful consideration, leading to a more organized living space.

Declutter by Category

Instead of decluttering room by room, consider decluttering by category (e.g., clothes, books, kitchen items). Start by identifying broad categories such as clothing, books, kitchen items, and sentimental items. Gather all items within one category from various areas of your home and place them in a designated sorting area. Then, go through each item one by one, deciding whether to keep, donate/sell, or discard it. Once you’ve completed decluttering one category, move on to the next until you’ve covered all areas of your home. This method allows you to see all similar items together, making it easier to identify duplicates or items you no longer need.

Ask Yourself Hard but Good Questions.

  • Do I use or wear this regularly?  If not, who might enjoy it much more if you were to gift or donate it?
  • Does this item hold sentimental value?  Can you take a picture or keep just a part of it?
  • Would I buy this again if I didn’t already own it?
  • Does this item serve a practical purpose?
  • Do I see myself using or enjoying this in the future?

Be Ruthless to Elevate the Things You Love

It’s natural to feel attached to certain items, but try to be ruthless when decluttering. If you haven’t used or thought about an item in months or years, it’s likely safe to let go of it.  As Cassandra Aarsen writes in
The Declutter Challenge: A Guided Journal for Getting Your Home Organized in 30 Quick Steps, “Having less will mean the products that you actually use, and love, are more visible and easy to access and you no longer have to struggle with limited space”.

The Declutter Challenge Book Cover Page

Take Breaks and Reward Yourself

Decluttering can be mentally and physically exhausting, so be sure to take breaks when needed. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes of focused decluttering, then take a short break to rest and recharge. Additionally, celebrate your progress along the way and reward yourself for reaching decluttering milestones. Whether it’s treating yourself to a favorite meal or indulging in some leisure time, rewards can help keep you motivated. Decluttering your own possessions involves confronting and sometimes removing objects that can hold emotional meaning in powerful and heavy ways. As Eleanor Brown writes, “Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”  Even small steps should be a source of pride!

Establish a System for Incoming Items

Once you’ve decluttered, establish a system for handling incoming items to prevent clutter from building up again. Consider implementing a “one in, one out” rule or designating specific areas for incoming items.  With this rule, every time you bring a new item into your home, whether it’s a piece of clothing, a kitchen gadget, or a book, you commit to removing a similar item that you no longer need or use. This helps prevent accumulation and ensures that your possessions remain manageable. Alternatively, designating specific areas for incoming items, such as a donation bin or a designated shelf, provides a structured approach to managing new acquisitions. By adhering to these practices, you can cultivate a more intentional and organized living space while minimizing clutter over time.

Consider Professional Help

If decluttering feels overwhelming or if you’re struggling to let go of certain items, consider hiring a professional organizer who can provide guidance and support throughout the process. To find professional help for decluttering your home in Greenville or another location, start by browsing online platforms like Yelp or Angie’s List for reviews and ratings of local organizers or decluttering services. Additionally, seek referrals from friends, family, or colleagues. Local directories and community forums specific to the area can also be valuable resources. Consider joining social media groups, as members may offer recommendations or connections to professional organizers. Check professional organizations like NAPO for certified organizers operating in the area. Once you’ve identified potential candidates, schedule consultation meetings to discuss your needs and assess compatibility. Prices and services can vary considerably, so talk with more than one service provider.  With these steps, you can enlist professional help to achieve a clutter-free home in Greenville.

Mother Theresa supposedly said, “The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.”.  But you don’t have to be a saint to declutter.  Even small steps can get you toward a more comfortable environment – or one ready for the big move!

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