The Move Out Method of Decluttering

Maggie Titus  |  March 27, 2023

The Move Out Method of Decluttering
  1. Set a Move Date. Since you're not actually moving, this is just a deadline—but it's a strict deadline! Decide if you want to declutter the entire house or just one room (or even one closet) and set your Move Date accordingly.
  2. Clear Everything Out. When you're moving, you're not just decluttering, but also packing everything up. To keep things authentic, start by removing every item. If you're organizing a drawer, start by taking everything out. Decluttering a closet? Pile everything on your bed first. Kids' toy chest? Dump it all on the floor.

  3. Decide What to Take With You. Pick up each item and ask: Would I take this with me if I was moving? What about if I was moving to a much smaller home (think 500-square-feet small)? If you would go through the effort of packing it up, hauling it to the new home, unpacking it, and finding room for it—then it's worth its weight. Add it to the "keep" pile.

  4. Let Go of the Rest. For anything that didn't make the cut but that's still in good condition, place it in a bag to donate. For broken, stained, or irreparable items, recycle them if you can and toss everything else.

  5. Do a Quick Clean. It's pretty rare that every item is cleared from your pantry, dresser, or under-sink cabinet. So while you have the area empty, vacuum up any dust and wipe down the walls.

  6. Move Back In. Now that you're down to only what you're keeping, it's time to move everything back in. But remember, this is your new home, so take your time folding shirts in your dresser or hanging dresses back in your closet. The end results should feel as though you hit reset on your home.


Some Tips

Stay Focused. When you're moving, there's a sense of urgency that keeps you motivated and helps you make quicker decisions about what to keep and what to toss. With that moving truck looming in the not-too-distant future, there isn't much time to deliberate. Channeling a similar energy can power you through the decluttering process. (But then take a deep breath and rejoice in the fact that you don't actually have to move at the moment.)

Try the Cardboard Box Test. Unless you're the type of person who unpacks the day they move in (I salute you), then you may be familiar with the fact that some of the items you packed will sit in a box for months, completely untouched, until you finally get around to unpacking them. But the fact that months went by and you never reached for those belongings is pretty telling. Maybe you don't need to keep them at all? If there are items you're thinking about decluttering but are having a difficult time letting go, try this: pack them up in a cardboard box, write a date on the box (it can be three months from now or nine months from now) and set a calendar reminder for yourself on your phone or Alexa. When the day comes, if you haven't already needed to grab any of the items in the box, you can donate them without hesitation.

Break It Down. You don't have to declutter your entire house at once. Take it in chunks—the pantry one weekend, the bedroom closet another. Just set a time constraint for each space and keep the moving mentality in mind.


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