Unwanted, unused, and unloved items not only take up space, but they can drain your energy. Use your time packing to move, as an opportunity to create a new chapter in your life with a space that inspires and works for you. As you pack, ask yourself…
Is this something I use regularly?
Is it something I love?
Am I holding onto this out of obligation or expectation?
Am I holding onto this because I think I should love it?
Am I holding onto a broken item to fix one day?
Do I have multiples of the same thing?
Could something else I own do the same job?
Is this item worth the time to clean and/or store?
If you answered yes to any, then consider editing. Toss it. Sell it. Donate it. Give it away. Do as you wish, but don’t bring the baggage with you. Go through each room in your home, section by section or category by category, and ask yourself if you use it. Decipher if it brings you joy, inspiration, and energy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, eliminate it. Use this opportunity to declutter, minimalize, and simplify your environment and life to start fresh.
I’m not going to lie, this can be emotionally draining; however, I can confidentially state that at the end it’ll be worth it. Not only will it ease unpacking and organizing your new home, but you’ll feel more relaxed and rejuvenated. To help with the process, I’ve put together some suggestions below:
Clothes, Shoes, Bags, Accessories, & Jewelry
For many, eliminating their clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, and jewelry can be emotionally taunting. But as explained, the outcome can be quite rewarding. As you edit, ask yourself the questions listed above. Decide if it’s too tight or too big. See if it’s damaged. If yes, get rid of it. Many hold onto items in hopes of “one day” re-wearing it. However, instead of waiting, toss it now and reward yourself with a new outfit/shoe/accessory/jewelry, later. If money is tight, keep in mind that you can always purchase new items from consignment stores, clearance racks, goodwill, yard sales, or receive hand me downs. In short, if you haven’t worn or used it in the past year, it’s stained/damaged, or if it doesn’t make you look/feel good…eliminate it.
Another trick is to ask yourself, would I buy it today? Would I buy it if it wasn’t on sale? If no, then why hold onto it? You need to realize that it’s okay to get rid of items. You can always reward yourself with replacements that make you happy.
A final food for thought…do you love doing laundry? Do you get excited when you’ve created a pile of dirty clothes requiring washing, drying, maybe ironing, and folding/hanging? If not, then take note that if you streamline, your laundry process will become much easier. Do you really need 20 pairs of socks that require matching OR could you live with 7 and wash less?
Books & Magazines
Have you ever received a book that you didn’t read? Have you ever read a book that is now collecting dust? Many hold onto books, magazines, even old text books as a “just in case” they’ll need it for reference later. For instance, do you need all your dictionaries? How about an entire encyclopedia set?
With the magic of Google and the Library, you can comfortably eliminate such items and still access the information. For example, if you’re holding onto old college text books, it’s fair to say that you can access the updated information at a tip of finger, online. If you collect self-help and entrepreneurial books…if it’s not a book that you’re constantly using…read it, take notes, and get rid of it. In addition, we’re living in a digital world. You can download a kindle reader for free onto your computer, smart phone, or use a device. With such access, you can probably read the majority of your books digitally as opposed to having them take up space. Please note, I’m not saying get rid of all your books. In fact, I still find reading a book the old fashion way is quite needed. However, I am saying that it’s a safe bet to guess that you’re holding onto a few books that you don’t constantly access. With those, you can jot down the key points, listen to it for free on YouTube, access it at a library, read it digitally, or obtain the information via other means (i.e. Google).
Towels, Sheets, Pillows, & Blankets
If you have enough towels to satisfy a family of 10, yet are a family of 4, you probably can edit out a few. Do you really need to hold onto “everyday” linens, “good” linens, “emergency” linens, “ripped up or old” linens, “guest” linens, etc. Linens can take up space. Therefore, take a look at what you have. Are you storing full size sheets when you only have a queen size and twin size beds? Are you holding onto torn towels? If so….pull out only the minimal that you need and toss out the rest. If you like however, you can re-purpose a few. For instance, you can finish ripping up the ripped towels and use them to dry your car after a wash (but if you don’t wash your own car, no need to store the “what if”). You can also cut a hole on the bottom of a pillow and use it as a dust protector over hung clothing.
Bathroom, Hygiene Products, Beauty Items, Toiletries, Samples, Medicine Cabinet
This is one area that you should definitely not allow your emotions to get in the way of decluttering. Many hold on to expired products, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Regardless, this is more dangerous than you think. Not only can the product be noneffective, but it can damage your health. For instance, expired make-up (which can expire in as little as a month) can create lots of bacteria and cause infections. Look through your products and get rid of those expired, duplicate, you don’t use, etc. You can also combine them. Do you really need 3 bottles of shampoo or can you combine them into one?
If you’ve ever come across an old box of photos, then this tip is for you. Ask yourself, how much value are you receiving from these pictures if they’re only sitting in a box and collecting dust. Is it fair to say not much? A better route is to go through these pictures and ask yourself…
Does the picture look blurry?Is it a duplicate?Do you hate how you look in it?Would you be iffy about sharing it?Do you lack an emotional connection with it?
If yes, then perhaps you should toss it. Hold onto quality pics that you can display (either in an album, hung on the wall, scrapbook, scanned, shared, placed into a photo book, etc)
Files, Letters, Documents, etc
I understand if you don’t want to toss your diploma or marriage certificate, but you could toss your old classroom notes. You could toss magazine clips from when you were planning your wedding. You can toss items 10 years old. Thanks to digital scanners, you don’t have to hold onto such clutter. You can scan them directly onto your hard drive or a file-sharing service like Dropbox (and even organize it better).
Keepsakes, Souvenirs, Sentimental, Mementos & Memorable Items
For many, holding onto these is easier than letting go. For one reason, they’re under the impression that keepsakes are the key to holding onto particular memories. For another, they may want to hand them down to their kids one day. If this sounds familiar, then you should ponder whether you’ll forget the experience if you lose the item. And/or would your kids really want to inherit them or can they find it as a burden? Since decluttering this category of stuff can be quite emotionally draining, I recommend going through it one box at a time. You can eliminate such things as those connected to other people’s memories. For instance, do you really need to hold onto the wedding favors from your friend’s wedding? Probably not. Do you really need to hold onto all the cards you’ve received or can you just scan them and keep them digitally? How about all the projects your kids made at school? Perhaps a better option is to scan or take pictures of them. Do you really need to hold onto items from your ex or do those create sadness and anger? If the item emotionally feels negative, then toss it. Likewise, items that you’ve inherited should be minimalized. For instance, assume you’ve received journals from a deceased loved one, but every time you read them you’re saddened. If that’s the case, eliminate them and instead hold onto the happy memories. Similarly, you don’t need to feel guilty if you eliminate an inherited item that you don’t love or use. You can further replace items that don’t age well (i.e. dried flowers) by taking a picture of them.
As you downsize, aim to create a true “Treasure Box.” Find a sturdy box (i.e. a vintage suitcase) and keep only the things that fit in there. Items can include those that you love the most (i.e. your child’s pacifier that he/she couldn’t live without), those that inspire you (i.e. before and after pics of your weight loss), and those that bring great positive memories (i.e. a key item from a special person, event, experience). Keep in mind, you only need the best representations. For example, you don’t need 5 copies of your child’s graduation programs, you can do with just one.
Children’s Toys & Clothing
One of the most clutter building categories in your home are kids’ toys (i.e. little toy pieces, Happy Meal prizes, broken items, legos, 1001 crayons, dried markers, stuffed animals, torn books & coloring books, hot wheels, etc…). Here’s the thing though, how many of them do your kids play with? For instance, let’s say you have a toy box full of old stuffed animals and dolls. Does your child know every doll in there? Do they have the desire or knowledge to dig into the middle of the box and pull out a stuffed animal that they won last year at the fair? If not, why are you holding onto everything? How many times have you bought a toy for your kid, they played with it for a day, and then went back and played with something else? How many times have they preferred to play with the box instead?
A better option and a more beneficial one for your kids is to only hold onto the toys that they can’t live without and those that you use to display. For instance, if you have to stuff everything into a toy box (where they can’t even see what’s in there), then you probably don’t need all of them. You don’t need to take 1001 broken crayons and dried markers. Your kids not only won’t use all 1001 crayons, but can they easily pick up all their art supplies and go color when & where they want to? If not, reduce it to one clean set that they can use. Reduce the dolls to only their favorite ones and those you can place on a shelf for decor. Eliminate ripped up books that your kids don’t read and keep in mind that with the magic of e-readers and access to a library, your kids can read many books without living in clutter. Same goes with all the toys, you should only hold onto those your kids play with.
In terms of kids clothing, if it doesn’t fit or is damaged, you don’t need to pack it. You also don’t need to hand it out down to a sibling or a future child. If it’s an outfit, that you absolutely love and have a sibling who adores it too, then maybe, but those torn or stained pants and shirts can go. You need to realize that it’s ok to get rid of these.
Craft Box & Office Supplies
There’s something inspiring and motivating when creating art and wealth. However, there’s something draining and burdening with clutter. As you sort and pack your craft and office supplies, ask yourself if you really need the duplicates. Test them. Do you need the dried up pens, markers, and stamp pads? Do you need 5 pairs of scissors, staplers, rulers, and hole punchers? How about the handful of empty binders? Declutter, declutter, declutter.
The kitchen for many is the heart of the home, but it’s also a magnet to duplicates (i.e. two toasters, 20 coffee mugs, mixed matched dishware. etc…), things you don’t use (i.e. a fryer when you’re trying to lose weight), and broken items (i.e. a broken vase that you plan on one day fixing). Keeping in mind that the kitchen is a place to create nourishing meals for you and your loved ones…declutter by eliminating anything that hinders otherwise. Ask yourself…
1. Do I use it?
2. Should I use it?
3. Do I have another one serving the same purpose?
4. Is it broken or damaged?
5. Does it create unnecessary clutter?
If so, eliminate it.
Nic Nacs & Junk Drawer
I’ve combined these because you have lots of room to minimalize here. Again, if the item is a duplicate, doesn’t make you happy, or you haven’t use it, edit it out.
Do you have a handful of CD players when you only may need one…or maybe none if you can listen to music from another device (i.e. computer, tablet, phone, ipod)? Do you find yourself holding onto a DVD player that you don’t really use since you may watch movies from Netflix and/or via a PlayStation/Xbox/Computer? How about a box of power supply cords, “just in case” you find out where they connect to or may need them for something else? Once again, if you don’t use them, they’re duplicates, or you have other items performing the same functions…toss it.
If you have any pets, you may notice that you’ve collected a basket of pet stuff that you don’t really need. For instance, do you really need to hold onto 20 chew toys, when your dog only plays with one tennis ball? Do you need 3 fish bowls when you don’t have fishes? How about pet clothes when your pet doesn’t wear or they no longer fit? Just like you’re doing for yourself and your family, you can and should streamline your pet supplies. On a similar note, if you find yourself holding onto the pet toys and clothing of a deceased animal, I understand it’s hard to let go, but again remember that the item is not the source of the memory. If you eliminate it, you won’t eliminate the memory. If it makes you feel better, you can take pictures of them or perhaps just hold onto key things, maybe the one chew toy your dog always played with.
The Garage, boy oh boy. For some the Garage isn’t a problem at all because either they don’t have one or they don’t use it for any other purpose than parking a car; but for others…the Garage can be a store all place. It’s where you not only store all the outdoor goods, but it’s where you store the things you think you may one day need but don’t know what to do with it. It’s where we have the broken gadgets, hand me downs, books that we’ll one day read, unfinished projects, old school mementos, the catch-all space for everything and anything. The garage can be a dangerous place, but if you apply the tips above, you’ll notice that you can definitely streamline your garage to only those items that you use and make you happy.