Minimalism

Decluttering Tips Whether You’re Moving House Or Not

11.24.17

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If you’re signed up to my monthly letter or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know we’ve sold our house and we’re moving! I feel a weird guilty lucky feeling that we’ve found a dream home that ticks every single item on our priority list, but at the same time we’re in that really awful stage of not knowing if it’ll all go ahead smoothly. My natural reaction is to try not to think or talk about it as if this might actually be happening. If I think worst case scenario, anything else is a bonus.

While we’re still in denial on the surface, underneath we’re hoping and praying it’ll all work out. Consequently we’ve thrown ourselves into decluttering – it’s a great escape from anxiety. I can safely say the best time to declutter is when you’re moving and there are psychological reasons for this. There’s power in the ‘I’m moving’ mentality.

Gretchen Rubin, my favourite happiness and habits expert, has a theory that forming a new habit is easier when we pair it with another major life event – moving house is pretty major. We can harness that fresh start feeling it gives us to make positive changes.

My intention was to write a guide to decluttering when you’re moving house and then I quickly realised the rules are exactly the same. The only difference is that instead of having to motivate yourself to assess every single thing you own, you have to motivate yourself to assess every single thing you own because the weight it bares is staring you in the face. You have to physically move the thing from one place to another and you’re feeling the strain of that.

This is the way I do it, moving house or not….

Don’t be afraid to start small The thought of decluttering that junk room or the garage that’s filled with so much stuff you’re too afraid to even start – it’s overwhelm because of how big the task feels. Breaking mammoth tasks down into smaller more manageable tasks is the best way to make everything a lot less scary. Don’t feel like it all has to be done at once. Baby steps will still achieve.

How would your life be better without it? The easiest way to reframe your mindset and shift your way of thinking. If we think about the benefits of less, the letting go becomes something we want to do instead of something we’re forcing ourselves to do. Sample answers include; I wouldn’t have to clean it, I’d have more money, I’d have more space, I wouldn’t have to package it up and move it – moving day will be easier.

Have you used it in the last year? If you haven’t used something in over a year the chances of you doing so are highly unlikely. Let it go.

Duplicates. It makes no sense to have more than one thing that does the same thing. Take it from me, you do not need 20 lighters in your kitchen drawer. One will do just fine.

Boundaries. Without boundaries we’re nothing but hoarding maniacs who have no idea what to keep and what to let go (raises hand). Think about your favourite thing that even the thought of getting rid of makes you wince inside. That feeling right there, how that thing makes you feel is your bench mark. Measure everything else against that. Imagine you only want to unpack useful stuff or beautiful stuff – nothing meh.

Does it add real value to your life? Does it have a use, a purpose or give you a feeling of utter joy for all the right reasons. Visualising how you’d feel unpacking it in your new home and how it would fit into your life there is a good barometer to feel it out.

Pack it away in the just in case box. There have been so many things I’ve been nervous about letting go of. What if I need them again? What if I regret my decision and I can’t get them back? In these cases give yourself a chance to get it back if you change your mind. Put it in a box, set a deadline and try going without. If it gets to the deadline and you haven’t used it you know what to do.

Does it have a place in your real life? We need to put our fantasy life aside and bring that ego back down to earth. You might believe you’re an avid listener to vinyl records, but are you? Are you really? It’s ok to just be you.

Scan it. Unless you absolutely have to have to keep a paper copy (I’m talking driving license and passport) scan the papers. You can scan photos too. A memory stick or external hard drive takes up much less space and you’ve still got everything should you need it.

Photograph it. This is a great way to give yourself the nudge you need to let go of sentimental things. Photos are easier to store and can be kept in digital format. You could even create a photo book so you have something to hold and look through if you wanted.

Does it serve you now?  Those old clothes might have fit you once upon a time but if they don’t fit you now, they aren’t serving you. That isn’t to say this won’t change in the future but that fantasy life is nothing more than a stick to beat yourself with. Let it go and focus on the here and now.

You don’t need all that paper. Instruction manuals are downloadable should you ever need to read them (but seriously who reads the manual?), guarantees expire and the latest bill trumps its predecessor. Only keep what is in date and genuinely required. If you can manage without it, let it go.

Once you’ve built some momentum, ride that wave and keep going. Even if you’re not moving, imagining you are is a great way to get started and build some momentum. J is wishing he hadn’t waited until we were moving to get on with it.

Happy decluttering movers (and imaginary movers too) Keep your fingers crossed I’ll be booking the removal van soon x

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6 comments on “Decluttering Tips Whether You’re Moving House Or Not”

  1. Really good way to relate. Everyone hates the cost of moving and unpacking, rooms with boxes still unopened a year later… no thanks! I think that is a great time to declutter and why the hell not. Get rid of all the junk.

    Great tips, i’ll Be using them when I move.

  2. My husband and I plan to buy next year and knowing fully well how awful moving can be, we or well I have been decluttering like crazy and I think we are there! Moving is still going to be a nightmare, but at least we will be taking only our most cherished possessions with us, when it’s time to move. The challenge will be ensuring we fill our new home with beautiful and meaningful things rather than buying just to fill a bigger space! Thanks for the wonderful tips, Jessica.

  3. This article is a real winner, Jessica. Besides being so useful and encouraging, I found it to be quite amusing. You have a great sense of humor, which we all need when facing the daunting task of actually BEGINNING to declutter. I’ve gradually gotten rid of some stuff (well, it’s on the verge of being gotten rid of), like I have about 20 tops in my closet that just don’t do a thing for me, and they are now washed, ironed and corralled to one side of the rack. I’ll try the consignment shop but I’m afraid of rejection, haha. I have some bags of books to sell at the used book shop, but boy, that is not easy, you have to schedule an appointment and again fear walking out with all the books still in the bag. I want to take unused china to a specialty resale shop. I mean, I may as well get one good dinner out of the disposal of all my junk, right? Pretending to move is the best. I’m actually really wanting to move for a fresh start, but husband is not. All in due time, I suspect. I cannot wait to see your new house. I do pray it all works out for you. Your current house is so beautiful that it’s no wonder it sold in a snap of the fingers. Well done! My favorite phrases of yours, “Baby steps will still achieve.” Oh yes, how I needed to hear that little gem as I’m so overwhelmed with all the mess that I haven’t found a way to even seriously begin, even though my husband tells me, Do 15 minutes a day. Now, if I had been doing 15 minutes a day for the last 4 years, I reckon I’d have the most decluttered house anywhere, right up there with you. “Think about the benefits of less.” The power of the mind, definitely! So smart, Jessica! “Used in the last year?” Honestly, I could reduce my stuff by 75% tomorrow if I applied that one rule. “Hoarding maniacs (haha) who have no idea what to keep or let go.” A million times yes! I KNOW with a jolt of my heart which things I would never dream of parting with…all else is dispensable, end of story. “Bring our ego back down to earth.” BRILLIANT, love it, that was hysterical! Time to check into reality and quit dreaming that I will have enough time left in my life to make 80 million recipes, etc. And finally, if something isn’t “serving me,” my stars that is just too absurd we would keep stuff that is only in the way and fulfilling no purpose in our life. Okay, sorry this was long, but I was so excited by this article that I got carried away. Merry Christmas to you and happy moving~so excited for you and your husband!!!

    1. Always so great to hear from you Kathryn. Don’t apologise for the long comment, I love to read them. So happy you enjoyed the post. You’ve got to have a sense of humour with all this stuff, no need to be so serious about it all. Baby steps are definitely the key. Try decluttering one item at a time. You don’t have to do it all at once. Hopefully the move won’t be too many months away. Looking forward to you seeing the new place. We’re downsizing but it’s a beautiful little house we’ve found. Have a wonderful Christmas! xx

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