Don’t Wait Until Your Next Move to Purge Your Belongings!

Moving.  It’s one of the most stressful events that you have to endure.

But you can simplify it by reducing the amount of stuff you have.

I have 3 friends who are moving or have recently moved.  One, a self-described minimalist, had so much stuff that she ended up leaving stuff at various people’s places to move at a later date!  I think she has to rescind her minimalist title.

Another is moving to a much larger place, but is still spending the next month purging and donating items so that she has less to move.

Smart girl.

But I think it’s even smarter to constantly go through what you have and purge what you don’t need/want/use.  Why wait until the stressful event of moving arrives, when you can do it on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?

Here are some ways to get you started:

Room By Room

Going room by room gives you a finite amount of stuff to go through and saves you from feeling overwhelmed by a whole house of items to sort through.

The bathroom is easy because it’s small and manageable compared to the rest of the house.  Old medications, cosmetics, half-used or almost empty bottles – all that can go.  Replace anything that’s broken and get rid of those 8 curling irons, crimpers, etc. that you bought 20 years ago and haven’t picked up since.

Do the same thing in each room.  Assess everything from books to mementoes to furniture.  Do you really use/love/need it?  If not, donate or recycle it.

Inch by Inch

When going through rooms that require a lot more time and consideration, break it up into sections.  Go through the kitchen cabinets – one at a time – and don’t go onto the next one until you’re finished the area you’re working on.

This tactic will be extremely useful in places like the basement, garage and rooms where there is a lot to go through.

What to Do?

Most likely, you’ll be coming across items that have you stumped.  You can’t quite decide what to do with it.  I suggest making up a box with “To ReAssess” on it and putting these items in the box.

In a month, go through the box.  Chances are you didn’t miss a thing.  If that’s the case, get rid of it, sell it – whatever – as long as you pass it along out of your place.  If you aren’t ready to let go of it yet, that’s okay.  Keep it in the box and go back to it in another month.  Maybe you’ll be ready to let it go then.

Personal Experience

Moving is kind of like childbirth.  You forget how painful it is until you have to do it again.  So remember that not only are you going to have to PACK UP your items, but then you are going to have to UNPACK them and then STORE them.  That’s a lot of work for just a little trinket, don’t you think?

Being a freelance writer, I can work anywhere in the world.  And chances are, I’m going to have to move for work one day soon.  So while I don’t resort to living in boxes until that time comes, I do really think about what I choose to keep.

For example:

– For every item of clothing that comes in, one has to go out.

– I try to keep only the amount of things we need – 6 plates, 6 bowls, cutlery for 4, etc.  When we have more room or our needs increase, so will our flatware, etc.

– I get books from the library instead of the bookstore.  I may have a towering pile, but it rises and falls throughout the month and in an instant, I can take them all back and free up that space.

– I may hold onto something for a little while, trying to figure out how it fits into my lifestyle.  As soon as I realize it doesn’t, I donate it or pass it onto a friend.  That way, I am certain about its usefulness to me and there are no pangs of remorse or regret.

Paris?  Tokyo?  New York?  I’m ready at a moment’s notice.  I just have to take these books back to the library….

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…