If you’re getting ready to move…whether across town or across the country, lightening your load ahead of time makes a world of sense! Moving offers a unique opportunity to start fresh and create an environment that really works for you, really inspires you. Unwanted, unused and unloved items in your environment always cost you space and energy but when you move the stakes are even higher. Unnecessary items now cost you time and money — two very precious commodities when you’re faced with packing up every single thing you own and moving it from point A to point B. By lightening your load ahead of the move you’ll save the time of packing and un-packing your items and the energy of deciding where to store things in your new space. Plus you’ll save the cost of paying movers to pack, transport, possibly store and unload your unnecessary items. Alright. Pep talk over. Let’s look for easy ways to declutter and leave unwanted, unused, and unloved possessions behind. Here’s how.

First, find the “low-hanging fruit” in your home. These are the no-brainer, no-longer-need-it items that have been lingering around for way too long. These things simply don’t need to follow you to your new home. Here’s what to look for:

  • Items still in the boxes from your last move! Seriously…if it wasn’t worth the effort to unpack it last time around, is it likely you’ll do so this time?
  • Things that don’t fit … either in size, taste or style. This can be anything from furniture to clothing…if it no longer suits your taste, you now have a great excuse to let it go!
  • Gifts you’ve been given but have never used. You really aren’t obligated to keep forever everything everyone has ever given you. You can appreciate the person and the sentiment of the gift without actually holding onto the gift indefinitely. I know it’s hard but it really is OK. Pass the item on to someone who will use it and love it!
  • Expired food items, expired medicine and food you know you’ll never use. It’s true, canned yams seemed like a good idea for Thanksgiving dinner in 2003 but if they haven’t made it to the dinner table yet, they’re not going to. Donate non-expired food items to a local food pantry. This is a low publicity time of year for food pantries, but the need is often very great.
  • If you buy in bulk, start depleting your stash of food, toiletries and other household items you’ve stocked up on. Paring down will make moving quicker and easier.
  • Paperwork that is more than seven years old and isn’t needed for accounting purposes, legal reasons or permanent records. Burn or shred unneeded documents that contain personal information. Recycle the rest.
  • Magazines and books that you’ve read and won’t read again (or haven’t gotten around to reading and never will.) Donate these to a friend, library or daycare center (if appropriate). And while we’re on books, are you still holding onto old college text books and notes? I’ll admit, it could be a stretch to label that as “low-hanging fruit” … maybe it’s “high-hanging fruit” (I still have mine, don’t tell anyone). But really, what on earth are we holding onto them for? Let me know if you find a new home for yours … and maybe I’ll meet the challenge and let go of mine, too! (There’s a challenge here…any takers?)
  • Projects you started years ago and never finished. You know…the table you were going to refinish, the curtains you were going to sew, the bench you were going to paint and recover, and so on. If it hasn’t been high enough on your priority list to finish up before the big move it’s very unlikely to soar to the top of your list now. It’s OK that you changed your mind. It’s OK that you decided to let other things take priority. Let it go…and feel good about it!

Next … go room by room throughout your home searching for things you no longer use, need or love. This doesn’t have to be a major clean-out-the-cabinets effort … just a scavenger hunt of sorts. Take a box and fill it up as quickly as you can with things you don’t want to take to your new home. Maybe you’ll find an extra set of dishes you don’t like and never use, excess plastic cups, a picnic basket that’s never seen the light of day, a juicer you’ve used twice, torn and faded towels, toys your kids no longer play with, and so on.

Third, continue the editing of your belongings as you pack items for move day. Keep a few boxes handy for things you come across and know you no longer need. Have a second set of boxes at the ready for items you’re on the fence about — you aren’t sure if you need them or not. For these boxes, simply put a date on the outside (six months to a year in the future) and designate them for the storage area in your new home. If you don’t go out in search of the contents before the date on the box has come and gone, you know it’s time to let go of the box and all it’s contents. And last, have a third set of boxes for the keepers — things you know for sure you use, love and need.

The last step is to find a happy home for your castoffs. If time permits, you could have a moving sale or sell some of your items on eBay. I’d recommend going the eBay route only for higher value items, since listing items on eBay can be a time consuming endeavor. You could also look into finding an eBay reseller in your area. If time is tight, simply donate your belongings to a favorite charity. Remember to keep receipts and create an itemized list so you can claim your donations at tax time.

Good luck with the move. How exciting to have the opportunity to create a new home…filled only with items you truly use, need and love!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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