What To Take, What To Keep? How To Be A Practical Packer

What To Take, What To Keep? How To Be A Practical Packer


If 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? If so, keep reading to find out how to put yourself in the right mindset so you can efficiently pack up your home and keep only practical items that you’ll actually have space or use for in your new household.

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Although inflation and rising interest rates have put first time homebuyers in a bind, the real estate market is still looking good for homeowners who want to sell their properties. Whether your home recently sold or you just posted your first listing on Zillow, you’ll need to get rid of the clutter and decide what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of before moving out.

Are you 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? If so, keep reading to find out how to put yourself in the right mindset so you can efficiently pack up your home and keep only practical items that you’ll actually have space or use for in your new household.

Determining What Items Are “Practical”

Deciding what to keep and what to let go is why so many people dread decluttering and packing before a big move. It’s easy to get carried away thinking about all of the memories that pop into your head as you come across different things you once treasured in your life.

While everything you own has a unique story behind it, only one thing really matters when it comes to whether or not you keep it: Will You Use It?

No matter how much you strategize, you’re going to want to keep various items because of sentimental attachment or because it makes you feel nostalgic.

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Although these feelings are unavoidable, asking yourself the following types of questions can help you logically decide if something is worth holding onto:

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • Why did I stop using this?
  • Will I make a real effort to use this more in the future?
  • Is this valuable because I can sell it for a high price or because I’m just attached to it?
  • Do I have more than one?
  • Is this vintage or is it out-of-date?

It’s also smart to set a timer when you’re sorting out items that might make you emotional. Setting a timer with enough time to ask the questions listed above will ensure you don’t get lost in the past and remain on task in the present.

Whenever you open a new box or start a new room or section of the house, remember to not be swayed by your personal connections from the past and to instead prioritize if what you are looking at will have an everyday function in your new home, help you carry on the traditions you have established, or improve the overall quality of life for you and your family.

Go Room-By-Room Through The House

Decluttering your home can feel overwhelming when you get started, but if you set simple goals that you want to achieve for each room, it can help you focus your effort and streamline the process.

Before you start grabbing boxes and filling them up, break down all of the packing into smaller tasks and objectives. This makes it easier to stay on track and motivated to let go of the things you no longer use or simply don’t bring you joy any more.

Depending on the size of the property you’re moving into and how much your personal taste has changed over the years, you might not have a need for a lot of things you have held onto at your current property.

Your first goal should be to create a tentative list of what you want to sell or donate. Do a walk-through of every single room in your house and take note of the obvious items you will be keeping, such as beds, couches, desks, etc.

Once you know what you’re keeping, look around the rooms again and determine which items are currently in each room that you aren’t using any more, lost interest in, or need to be updated/replaced after you move into the new place.

Create a separate list of all of the items you want to get rid of so you can check them off as you declutter each room in the house.

Use A Schedule And Set Realistic Goals

Once you have made your list of what you’re keeping and getting rid of, use it as a guide to set realistic goals that you can achieve each day. This not only keeps your efforts organized, but it also forces you to gauge how much time you will actually need to accomplish everything before the moving deadline.

Although you have a list to keep you on track, you’ll likely find that you have more stuff than you realized once you really get in there and start going through all of your belongings in each room. The worst thing you can do is procrastinate and not leave enough time to declutter and pack, so start as soon as possible.

Begin at least two weeks before you move if you currently live in an apartment or condo. If you live in a house, you’ll probably need at least a month or longer to pack and declutter. Starting early will make the whole process feel manageable and less stressful than if you leave it to the last second.

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Set aside a few hours each day to work on a different room or area you want to mark off your list. You should also set a specific number of boxes you want to have packed by the end of the day so you have a goal to keep you motivated.

The Three Box Rule

Since you’ve already made a list of the general items you want to keep, throw away, or sell, you need to come up with a system to separate these things and the various items you find as you go through closets, drawers, cabinets, etc.

When you start packing a new room, set up three boxes with the following labels to help you keep everything organized:

Throw Away

If you don’t have use for it in your current home, you likely don’t need it where you’re going. Anything that’s broken or worn out should also go in this box. Come across an old sweater string you never reattached? Throw it in this box. Do you have all kinds of extra cables but have no idea what device they’re for? Toss them in the box and move on.


Any sentimental belongings, everyday necessities, luxury items, tools, newer linens/bedding, electronic/entertainment devices, collectables, home office supplies, or things related to your hobbies and interests (that you actually use) should go in this box.

Sell/ Donate

Any clothes that no longer fit or shoes you never wear anymore go in this box. The same goes for old dishes and linens you’ve been keeping as “extras.” Items like these are usually accepted at shelters and donation centers. Things like old kids toys, used tools, and outdated electronics, can be easily sold at a garage sale or online.

Find an area in your home where you can line up and stack the packed boxes from each room. After you pack a box, label it with a marker, tape it up, and move it into the designated storage area. Under the label, you should list the main items in the box so it’s clear for anyone helping you move into the new property.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time Trying To Sell Old Items

Depending on how quickly you need to get out of your current property, you might not have time to put a lot of effort into selling everything you want to get rid of. Even when you use a Sell/ Donate Box to stay organized as you pack, you still need to separate/categorize the items, determine how much you want to sell them for, and then figure out if you want to have a garage sale or post everything online, or both.

Although having a garage sale is a common way to get rid of clutter and make some extra money, they’re not always worth the time and effort. You need to wake up early, display and price everything, and then you’re stuck in the front yard all day haggling with strangers over the price of used goods. Garage sales are only effective if you don’t procrastinate and leave enough time to hold several over a couple of weekends. But since that’s not always feasible, you should use alternative methods to sell what you no longer want to keep, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

Some people also struggle to let go of expensive purchases and sentimental items because they place an unrealistic value on what buyers would actually pay for them. So if you have a box of stuff to sell, don’t waste too much time looking up prices to compare just because you don’t want to get ripped off.

For example, if you plan to just put everything on eBay, you can use the recommended selling price and knock off a couple of bucks so that your listing appears more reasonable than others and moves more quickly than if you hold out for fair market value.

You can also list some of the items you plan to donate for free on Facebook Marketplace. You’ll be surprised how fast people on your friends list will message you when they come across a post for free furniture. This is an easy way to get rid of big items like old couches, beds, and tables, plus, you can arrange to meet at a time that suits your busy schedule.

Anything left over that doesn’t sell online or get picked up after you list it for free can be donated to your local thrift store, or you can ask friends and family if they want to take it off your hands.

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Entering the Next Chapter of Your Life Without Clutter

As you spend time going through boxes and taking inventory of everything you’ve kept over the years, you’ll likely realize that much of the clutter was negatively impacting your day-to-day life. People usually find that all of the excess material goods they don’t actually use or have lost interest in were just taking up valuable space or were a waste of money.

Decluttering with a practical mindset can not only help you dispose of useless junk, but it can also help you identify which spending habits you need to get under control so you don’t fill your home up with more stuff than you need.

You don’t need to become a minimalist or avoid buying things you genuinely want, you just need to prioritize simplicity more than you did before and make decisions based on what would be functional in your new household.

About The Author
Chris is the founder of True Friends Moving Company, a family-owned and operated business serving all of Florida, Tennessee, and beyond. Chris got his first job in the moving industry in high school and he continued to work as a mover until he graduated from college. After college, he accepted a job in corporate sales with a Fortune 500 Company. Although Chris was climbing the corporate ladder, he still held onto his dream of one day owning his own company. True Friends started out 10 years ago with just a couple movers and a truck. Since then, they have become renowned across the SouthEast region for providing customer service that's second to none.Chris’s company has earned prestigious awards like: Inc 5000-Fastest Growing Company and Nashville Scene- Best Mover.
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