How to Decide What to Keep and What to Throw Away When Moving

Tidying Up And Decluttering

They don’t call it “moving” for nothing. The process of changing homes or businesses isn’t usually just one move. Gathering your belongings, packing them up, getting them to your new location, and moving yourself from Point A to Point B in the process – these are just some of the mini-moves that will take place during the big move.

While you’re in the middle of this, it’s crucial to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Very few property owners change locations without getting rid of at least a few things. Moving is a great opportunity to downsize and/or invest in new items, and there is no need to haul what you no longer want. So, how do you decide what to keep and what to throw away when moving? Read on to find out.

The Importance of Sorting – And Sorting Early

Before you start sorting your items into “keep” and “throw” categories, you may be wondering why it’s important to sort in the first place. After all, you’re moving somewhere new; it’s only logical to think that you might need your old stuff. While you will certainly be moving the bulk of your old stuff to your new place, you’ll find that moving will present several opportunities to throw away things you no longer need. Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a larger (or smaller) sofa. Maybe that mattress needs to go. And maybe, just maybe, there is a whole hoard of unused items in your closet that really belong in the donation bin.

To determine what you want to keep and what you want to throw away, it’s essential to start sorting as early as possible in the moving process. You don’t want to pack things up and move them only to donate them down the line – that’s extra effort. By starting the sorting process early, you’ll be able to go through every item in your possession and determine whether it has a place in your new home or business.

The Big Sorting Question: Two Categories or Three?

For some movers, there are two major categories: “keep” and “throw.” “Keep” is self-explanatory, while “throw” applies to items that belong in the trash, the donation bin, or possibly a sales pile. Easy enough. For those less decisive sorters, however, a third category is necessary: “maybe.”

“Maybe” refers to the items you’re just not sure about. It’s a category whose content will be visited and revisited throughout the moving process. If you have a few “maybe” items, we recommend marking each one with a sticky note and setting a deadline for your final decision about all of them. We suggest setting that deadline at least one week before your move. That way, you’ll have time to make a few donation trips and pack up those items that make the cut.

How to Sort Your Belongings: Tips for Getting Started

While sorting every item in your home or business may seem like a daunting task, there are a few steps you can take to make it manageable – and even enjoyable. Take these tips to heart to make your sorting process as seamless as possible.

  • Get helpful receptacles. In the last section, we spoke of sorting your items into categories. Make these categories physical places by investing in helpful receptacles such as large cardboard boxes or plastic bins. Piles may be the path of least resistance, but they can quickly sprawl out of control and stress you out. Stick to packing receptacles with rigid boundaries for denser items, and use garbage bags for clothes and other soft stuff.
  • Go room by room. There’s no need to try to sort your entire property all at once. To keep things running smoothly – and to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed – tackle your sorting process one room at a time. We suggest starting with your bedroom, as you’re most familiar with the items in there. If your bedroom seems too daunting, start with a small closet somewhere on your property. Bring each of your bins with you as you go. Once you’ve filled a bin, place it somewhere out of the way until you’re ready to move it or donate it.
  • Ask for help. A friend or family member can make sorting your possessions much easier. Not only will an extra person divide the labor, they will also help you make decisions. Remember: you ultimately decide whether to keep or throw away every item you own. Don’t let your friend pressure you one way or another. However, do keep an open mind, as your friends and family can sometimes lend some solid advice. They can also take a few items off your hands, saving you a trip or two in the long run.
  • Make it fun. Sorting a huge set of items may not seem like fun, but throw on some music and figure out a nice little reward system for yourself and suddenly it’s an activity you’ll look forward to each time you do it. Rewards may include a tasty snack, a movie or TV show, an online shopping spree, or a quick nap. You know what you like – we trust you to figure this one out.
  • Pace yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your house won’t get sorted that quickly either. It may take a week, a month, or even longer. What’s important is that you’re consistently making progress and keeping the process stress-free. We recommend starting with 15- or 30-minute sessions once or twice a day. If you’re feeling good – or if you get the organizing bug – you can up the ante whenever you feel like it. Just stay consistent and don’t burn yourself out.

Making Decisions: Question to Ask Yourself

Sorting your belongings boils down to a series of decisions. With each item comes a choice: do you keep it or do you throw it away? While you can postpone your decision by putting an item into the “maybe” category – sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with it. So, how do you make the right decision? We can’t answer that for you, but we can help you out by encouraging you to ask the right questions. Here’s what to ask yourself about each item to ensure that you make the best sorting decision.

  • Do I use this item enough to warrant keeping it? This is the big one. If you use an item frequently, you naturally want to keep it. If you use it only a couple of times a month or year, it may not be worth the space it occupies. Answering this question ultimately comes down to the item itself. Some items, like kitchen appliances, electronics, and most pieces of furniture, should be used weekly or bi-weekly. Other items, like ski gear, seasonal decorations, yard purchases, and smaller things like books and jewelry, are naturally used less frequently. For each item, ask yourself if you’re using it enough to keep it around.
  • Does it need to be replaced? If the clock is ticking on a well-worn item, moving is a great time to replace it. Sometimes replacement is necessary, as it may not fit (spatially, aesthetically, or functionally) in your new space.
  • Can I sell it? You may not want to part ways with an item because it cost you a pretty penny. Good news: that item may still fetch a pretty penny on the resale market. Use Craigslist, eBay, Letgo, or Facebook Marketplace to try to sell your item. Simply post a few pictures, set your price, and see who bites. A little financial incentive can make it much easier to get rid of big-ticket items in your home or business.
  • Do I know someone who needs it? There are countless people out there who could use your old items in their own daily lives. However, donating to a thrift store or charitable organization isn’t always as easy or personal as you’d like it to be. Before donating your items there, check to see if a friend or family member might need them. That way, you’ll know that they’re getting used.
  • Does it have sentimental value? Deep down, we’re all sentimental. Some items have no value in terms of currency or functionality, but they are priceless in terms of the memories they bring back. For these items, we always suggest hanging onto them – especially if they’re very important to you. Instead of thinking about whether to get rid of them, think about how to store them efficiently. Sometimes this means buying a new piece of furniture – and sometimes it means investing in an entire storage unit.

Self Storage: The Solution to Your Sorting Problems

We get it: parting ways with your possessions can be tough. If you’ve found that you’re keeping a lot more than you’re throwing, don’t despair: Self storage is your solution. Be investing in a self-storage unit, you can keep most of your items without taking up any space at your new property.

Here at Stor-It, we are proud to offer a wide selection of storage units at each of our 16 Southern Idaho locations. With unit sizes ranging from 5’x5’ to 10’x30’ – plus climate-controlled units available – we have everything you need to hang on to your belongings. We also proudly offer flexible month-to-month leasing for those in need of short-term storage solutions. Ready to book? Have more questions about what to keep and what to throw away when moving? Contact us today!

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