If you’re moving to a new home or finally tackling that renovation project in your existing home, you’ll need to prepare for a transition. In both cases, you and your household will experience disruptions in your daily routines. Constant activity, cluttered spaces, and living without creature comforts can all lead to stress if left unaddressed.
Fortunately, many of these challenges can be mitigated, if not avoided altogether, with a little advance planning. In this article, we discuss the methods and advantages of decluttering your space before tackling a large project like a relocation or remodel.
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Choosing a Positive Approach to Decluttering
Think of your upcoming household move or major renovation as the beginning of another chapter in your life. This is the prime time to take a good, hard look at all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years and assess whether it’s time to hold on to it or move on from it. Deciding to dramatically declutter your space can have significant practical, financial, and mental health benefits.
What To Take, What To Keep? How To Be A Practical PackerIf you're moving an d are not sure what to do with things like old toys and trophies that have been sitting in the garage? Are you struggling to separate your personal connection from all of the property you have accumulated over the years?
Decluttering may seem like a daunting task on the surface (and depending on how much clutter you have, it might be!), but the rewards are well worth the effort. As you work, think about how much joy you’ll find in making a fresh start in a clean, clear space.
The tricky thing about clutter is that it builds up without anyone noticing. Before long, your attic, basement, and storage closets are packed to the brim. If you’re like many of us, you might keep shoving stuff in there just to avoid dealing with the existing mess. It might work for a while, but eventually, you’ll find yourself wondering where all the space in your home went. Not to mention, these cluttered spaces often become havens for mildew, mold, or pests — not the sort of thing you want to let fester!
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As you begin planning your move or renovation, think about how you’ll use the space available to you. A new home is a blank canvas — do you really want to stuff it full of junk right off the bat? By the same token, renovations require moving furniture, appliances, and other items to accommodate the work. That’s not so easy if you have no space left!
Movers should also keep in mind that a clean, clutter-free home will likely make the environment more appealing to potential buyers. More open space allows prospective buyers to visualize themselves in the home (as a bonus, it also makes rooms appear larger).
A study from Harvard University explained how excessive clutter hinders our ability to focus, process information, and overall productivity. Decreasing clutter can help you relax during a stressful time while enjoying a cleaner, healthier living space.
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Why go through the effort and expense of packing, moving, unpacking, or storing a bunch of stuff that you no longer need or want? Even purging 20% of your clutter before moving can greatly increase the efficiency of the moving process. A garage sale can help you unload your clutter while earning some cash in the process — a win-win scenario.
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Reassessing Your Needs
As you consider life in your new home or soon-to-be renovated space, you’ll have a great opportunity to reassess your current needs and lifestyle. For example, you might not need to keep all the tools, supplies, and equipment in your current garage if the homeowner’s association in your new neighborhood handles mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, and shoveling the snow. If you have items you need to keep that won’t fit in your new space, consider short- or long-term storage options to keep them off-site.
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Best Practices for Decluttering Your Space
As the big day approaches, set concrete goals and timelines — for instance, “Reduce attic storage from twenty boxes to five by Sunday.” Ideally, this process should involve discussions with everyone in your household. Once you’ve established clear objectives, you can start planning your next steps.
Create a checklist that includes any key dates and deadlines. If possible, allow a little extra time to account for unexpected delays rather than placing yourself on a rigid timeline.
Will you need assistance from a moving company? Most professional moving companies offer optional services like packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, and furniture assembly or disassembly. They can make moving day much easier, but you’ll want to declutter before they arrive — decluttering and moving at the same time is a recipe for (literal) disaster.
Next, take inventory of each area of your home and sort everything as “keep” or “clutter.” Don’t be afraid to be a little ruthless; everything you keep will mean extra work for you later on. Everything you don’t keep, like duplicate kitchen appliances or clothes you haven’t worn in years, should be sold, donated, or discarded.
How To Dispose Of Unwanted Items
If you have a large quantity of items to dispose of or several oversized objects (furniture, heavy equipment, etc.), you might need to make special arrangements with your waste management provider. Your HOA may have a program for bulk item disposal that gets you the service at a discount. For everything else, you might consider renting a dumpster or contracting a junk removal company.
For items you intend to sell, take digital photos and create listings on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, ThredUP, eBay, or OfferUp. For items you wish to donate, check with Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity. Invite your children and grandchildren to look through your belongings for anything that interests them.
Set a deadline after which everything you haven’t sold will be donated or discarded. Items that might be appropriate for donation include housewares, clothing, and books. Plan to discard any expired stored food, old medicine, and magazines. Safely dispose of old paperwork; shred any documents that contain personal information. Documents like owner’s manuals can be photographed or scanned and stored electronically.
As you reduce your clutter, you’ll gain a better understanding of the items you’ll need to account for during the move or renovation. Now you can gather the necessary moving supplies, such as tape and boxes. Consider using transparent bins that allow you to see the contents. Ensure that fragile items are safely packed, and clearly label boxes containing the belongings you plan to keep.
Decluttering your space makes moving and renovations simpler, saves money, improves your space, and can help reduce stress. Whether you’re planning a major project in the near future or you simply want to refresh your home, reclaim living space, and gain an improved outlook, today may be the best day to get started.