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Solutions that Work: Moving and Decluttering

Today is day 6 of the Solutions that Work series. Whether you are preparing to move or just want to declutter, I have some tips for you. We will tackle what to keep and where to start.

Should I keep it?

Just like with sorting your clothes, you have the six different options of where things should go. Using a series of you questions, you can simply decide whether or not to keep something. I call this the Should I Keep It Process.

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then, you should keep the item.

  • Has it been used in the past year and can continue to be used?

  • Does this thing bring you joy?

  • Is this a keepsake that you plan, honestly plan, to use?

What can you do if you are not keeping it?

  • Give it to someone who can use it and love it.

  • Resell it if the item has value. Re-selling can be done through online marketplaces like craigslists, Facebook, and eBay. Or, you can sell items through second-hand shops.

  • Donate it.

  • Hold on to it so you can decide later. (This should be used sparingly.)

Where should you start?

Whether you are preparing to move or just want to declutter, I recommend you start with your home’s current storage areas like the basement and attic. Here are some typical things you might find in these spaces and ideas on how to tackle them.

Holiday decorations

  • If you are moving to the same size place, I would recommend that you keep the tubs you have of holiday decorations intact. For the loose items, you should use the Should I Keep It Process to determine if you will pack it.

  • The next time you celebrate a holiday and use your decorations, you should use the Should I Keep It Process as you are re-packing these items.

Clothes & toys in storage

  • Children’s clothes not being used should be sorted by sizes. If you have clothes that will be used later by your children, box these. Clearly mark box with the size and season of the clothes. For the rest, discard by donating, reselling, gifting or trashing.

  • For toys that will be used later by your children, box them and label with the exact items and possible ages for when to use them.

  • You could put a reminder in your calendar for when the clothes and toys should be used.


  • If you are moving, I suggest that you use your luggage to move your clothes from your current home to your new home. So if you are moving, I suggest keeping your luggage for the move. After the move or to simply declutter, use the Should I Keep It Process to determine what luggage you should keep.

Stored housewares and large kitchen appliances

  • For your housewares that you store (punch bowls, platters, vases, frames, pictures, decorations, etc.), use the Should I Keep It Process for each item.

  • If you have housewares that may be doubles or belong to a set that is used in your house, I suggest that you do not box these items at this point. Instead, you put them with the rest of the set or where you might have the double, and then, sort those items together.

  • For the kitchen appliances that are not stored in your in your kitchen because they are too big such as a bread maker or large mixer, use the Should I Keep It Process to determine if you need to discard any of these items.

  • If you are moving and don't anticipate using these items before moving, go ahead an box up these items. If you may use it, put the item in a box but do not seal it up until later. This way you can go ahead and label the box.

Your childhood stuff

  • It is possible that these boxes have moved with you from apartment to house to house. There is no time like now to go through them.

  • The pictures that you find should go into one designated tub. There is no need to sort them at this time or even to purge duplicates. If photos are in albums, you could take the photo sheets out of the album, put these sheets in the picture tub and discard the actual album. If the photos are in frames, take the photos out of the frame, save the photos and discard the frames.

  • For the other items such as yearbooks, papers, uniforms, trinkets, etc., you have to look at each item and ask yourself:

  • Is this something I want to have or show my children in the future?

  • Does this thing tell something about me?

  • Am I not ready to part with this item?

If you answer yes to any of these items, store them in a tub until you are ready to take action on the items.

  • When finished, label your box with what is inside—be as specific as possible.

Next, you can start to declutter throughout your house.

  • For all the other things we store around the house, you should use the Should I Keep It Process for each.

  • You can use these suggested outline as a starting point. Take a walk around your home and take note of the items you have. Then, create a list of the areas to declutter and consider addressing one each day.

  • Depending on the time you have until you move, you can decide if you can box up the items now or if you need to wait based on whether you’ll need them before you move.

General tips on labeling and packing

  • Whenever you pack items in boxes and totes, clearly label each with the specific items that are inside. If you are moving, include where you want the items to be placed in the new home. Ex: Christmas (basement) or Valentine’s Day (attic)

  • For labeling, I have found that squares of paper and packing tape work well. For long-term storage, I do prefer to use printed labels like the these from Meredith Corporation.

  • When deciding what to use to pack items, I suggest using totes with lids for items that will be stored for the majority of the year, like seasonal items, to keep items dry and clean. If you are boxing items just for the move, you can use cardboard boxes.

Whether you are preparing for a move or wanting to free yourself of your clutter, these steps should help you get a sort through your things. T

Read the Solution that Works: Less Paper.

Check out all the Solutions that Work Series posts.

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