How to Get Organized Before Moving

Moving to a new home is one of those positive life events that also have their downsides. In this case, before you go anywhere, you’re faced with the task of sifting through all that stuff that’s been accumulating over time.

Clearing out closets and seeing what relics are stashed in the dark recesses of basements and garages isn’t the most appealing use of one’s free time. But if you look at moving as a chance to edit — to reduce your personal inventory to a manageable level — getting organized doesn’t need to be all that daunting. Here are a few tips to get started:

Maintain your focus. Organization becomes overwhelming for many people because they can’t stay on task. They’re sorting through a closet, run across an old yearbook, start flipping through the pages — and the next thing they know, two precious hours have elapsed.

If you’re the easily distracted type, set an alarm and work in increments of 30 minutes. Between increments, feel free to wander off or flip through that yearbook, but keep breaks to no more than 10 minutes. And make sure to complete one task before moving onto the next. Don’t attempt to organize your whole home at once, but instead focus on one closet, one corner or one cabinet at a time.

Sort and purge. Many people rediscover long-forgotten items as they start organizing. If you find surprises, ask yourself why you still have them. Are they broken, but you intend to have them fixed “someday?” Are they clothes that need to be altered? As a general rule, if you haven’t used or even recalled you had a particular item for more than a year, you can probably live without it.

In homes with plenty of cabinet space, some people like to hang on to old items, “as a backup.” So, for example, they buy a new blender but keep the old one, in case the new one should break. If you have backup items, consider donating them to charity, where they may once again become useful to someone.

Get something for your efforts. If you’re having trouble parting with belongings, or you can’t seem to reach a family consensus on what should stay and what should go, remember that a yard sale could earn you some extra cash to buy something you really want. If you have a specific goal in mind — say, dinner for two at a fancy restaurant — you may be more motivated to sell seldom-used or long-forgotten items.

Once you start organizing what you already have, you’ll find that moving day will be less challenging. Also, it will provide you with the opportunity to start off with a fresher perspective at your new destination.