If you’re planning a move, you may have an overwhelming urge to throw all your possessions into cardboard boxes, tape them shut and think, “I’ll deal with this after moving!”
We get it. But before you start dumping drawers into boxes willy-nilly, we implore you: Declutter first.
There’s no better time to get rid of unnecessary stuff than right before a move. You’re in the right mindset—you’re open to change.
Plus, you have to go though everything already, and if you follow through, you’ll start life at your new home with less junk and a stronger connection to the items you decided to hold onto before moving.
Sounds great, but how do you do it? We recently gave a best-selling book—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo—a read.
The book isn’t necessarily about moving; it’s more about how to live a less cluttered, happier life. But many of the suggestions Kondo offers are invaluable to those brave souls about to pack up their possessions and begin anew.
Here are four tips from Kondo’s book we found for downsizing before a move.
1. Category by Category
Think about your past attempts to tidy up or simplify your physical space. Odds are you went about it room by room. Rookie mistake!
Kondo subscribes to the theory you should instead go category by category. For example, if you keep some dinner plates in the kitchen and others in the dining room, put them all together in one place before going through them and deciding what to keep. Same for clothes, books, athletic equipment and so on throughout the house.
Don’t focus on what you’re discarding. Rather, focus on the things you are choosing to keep: This makes the process feel more positive.
2. Handle Everything
Kondo suggests touching everything you own in order to determine if you truly want and need it.
Take clothes, for example. Kondo believes it best to remove all your clothes from your closet and dresser, physically hold them and decide one-by-one if you want to keep each item.
You might be tempted to just flip through your shirts as they hang in your closet. According to Kondo, that’s a no-no. You have to get everything out of its place to determine if you want it—and if it truly brings you joy.
3. Find the Joy
This is a little touchy feely, but bear with us: Kondo believes that a possession either “sparks joy,” or it doesn’t.
It’s all about keeping the items that do offer that spark and getting rid of everything that doesn’t. Kondo uses books as an example: Does being surrounded by books you’ve never read bring you joy? Maybe not.
Of course, the standard doesn’t work for each and every item in a household. A plunger isn’t likely to “spark joy”—but having one around is still a good idea.
4. Make Moving an Event
Most people believe tidying is something you need to work at, something that requires upkeep. However, Kondo writes that if you’re constantly tidying up, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Instead of doing a little tidying up here and a little there whenever you have time, make your clean-up an event—something you spend a weekend doing with friends and family.
Painful? Maybe. But you’re more likely to experience a significant and long-lasting change. Of course, you’ll still need to put stuff away (unless you have a butler), but the effort will be minimal.
In short, think of Kondo’s method as a marathon that ends rather than daily sprints that go on and on and on.
Again, Kondo’s techniques aren’t specifically written for people undergoing moves. But there are few better times to assess whether you really need that old two-prong extension cord than when you’re holding it in your hand and have the option of packing it or chucking it.