Whether you have just sold your house and are moving out, or you are moving into a home you just bought, moving is a headache. Most people have homes filled with stuff they may not have used in months and may have forgotten about until it becomes time to move. It is only then that we realize exactly how much random stuff we have and what we need to keep or toss.

If you begin prepping in advance, you can slowly declutter your home as you pack, so you are not moving boxes that have not been touched since your last move, or a dresser full of clothes you do not wear.

Start With Five Boxes

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Normally, when decluttering you would only use three or four boxes, but since this is in preparation for moving, a fifth box is needed. One box will be for things to keep, one to donate or sell, one of things to toss, one of things you just aren't sure where to put, and one with things you will need the day you move in.

The essentials box will have everything you may need when moving in, like hand soap, toilet paper, a few hand towels, a box cutter, tools, nails, and first aid supplies — just to be safe. Make sure this box is clearly labeled and set aside so you can find it when moving day arrives.

You can do a garage sale or online sale for the donate box if you would rather do that, but honestly, sometimes it is just easier to empty the box by donating it. This gets everything out of your hair much quicker.

Categorize Everything

Figure out what categories of things you have in your home: books, collections, clothes, games, kitchen items, decor, and more.

Once you have things listed out, figure out which categories you will not need access to before you move, ranking them in order of importance. From there, you can gather up each item in a category and look at all of it at once. This is where you will decide which box to put things in. It is not just a matter of "do I like it" it is also a matter of "do I want to have to pack, move, and unpack this?" If you really love something, but you do not want to find space to move it, it is time to get rid of it.

Pack boxes with the categories of items, and label everything clearly. Having seven boxes labeled with nothing but "kitchen" is useless when you just need to find the spoons and have no clue what kitchen box they got put in. Take the time to write on the box "Kitchen: plates, bowls, silverware." This will make unpacking much easier.

Get Rid Of Sentimental Things That Bring You Down

Everyone has that piece of decor that their friend or family member gave them that they only keep because they would feel guilty about getting rid of it. Remind yourself that getting rid of the item does not get rid of the memories of the item or the person who gave it to you.

You can always take photos of the items you are getting rid of and journaling about them and the memories connected to them.

Go Digital

Most people have old birthday cards they have been hanging onto for years or old report cards and drawings from their children. Instead of keeping these all in paper form, where they take up a lot of space, scan them and save them on your computer. If you want to keep displaying some of these items, you can always get digital picture frames.

Your Wardrobe

This is one of the hardest things to declutter for a lot of people, you have that dress that you only wear on special occasions, that shirt that you wear once a year at a certain event, or you just really love this item and you totally (do not) wear it all the time. One easy way to tackle your closet is to hang everything up with the hanger facing backward. Once you wear it, put the hanger in the correct position. After a few months, the things that still have a backward hanger should go; with the exception of seasonal clothes — you do not need to wear shorts in the winter to justify keeping them.

If you do not have months to determine if you actually wear something, there is a different approach you can take. For every single item of clothing you have, ask yourself if you enjoy wearing it. If the answer is no, get rid of it. Just because you spent money on it does not mean you have to keep it forever. Get rid of that scratchy sweater, the jeans that you just need to lose 15 more pounds to fit into, the shoes that pinch your toes, so you have not worn them since you got them.

Reward Yourself

Give yourself rewards and goals as you do to make sure you do not burn out before you are done. Decluttering and moving and be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, so give yourself time to rest. Set time limits for how long you can work before you take a break. When you hit that time limit, give yourself some sort of reward. This can be something as basic as reading a chapter in your book or eating the candy bar sitting on your kitchen counter. By giving yourself a reward when you finish things, you are more motivated to finish to get that reward.

Todd Wilkinson is the Founder and Owner of FonHome Realty.  FonHome is a customer-centric brokerage where our clients are in control and our experienced agents are respected for providing the positive and exciting experience the real estate transaction should be. Todd is an accomplished real estate investor with an undergraduate degree in Financial Economics and a Masters’s degree in Business Administration.  Todd has held senior management and executive-level positions with the world’s two largest retailers and a successful startup venture.  Todd has served terms on the University of Arkansas Advisory Board and is actively involved with the St. Theresa School in Kenilworth.  Todd opened his own brokerage after feeling underserved in his personal experiences with real estate transactions and wanted a firm whose mission was on serving the fiduciary responsibilities guaranteed to the Buyer and Seller.  Contact Todd today for a free Comparable Market Analysis for your home or for advice on beginning your search for a new home at www.fonhomerealty.com.