Moving is the perfect opportunity to declutter, losing the dead weight of your unneeded stuff before you haul it into your new home. Yet while the very best time to cut your losses is before you pack your things, unpacking is another prime opportunity to edit your belongings, too. It could easily come in handy, especially if you packed in a frenzy, without fully considering what to keep or toss, or if you hired movers to pack up everything for you.
If you’re ready to wipe the slate clean, here’s how to declutter while unpacking.
Unpack room by room, starting with the essentials
Don’t unpack a little bit here or a little bit there. It’s much better to have one room fully unpacked than three rooms a quarter of the way unpacked. It is recommended to start with essential items like bedding, toiletries, medications, a coffee maker, or whatever else you need for the first day in a new place. Pack these in a way that you can find them easily.
Keep purging as you unpack
Even if you thought you did a lot of sifting as you were packing, you’re sure to find more that you don’t need or want as you unpack. You definitely want to kind of ruthlessly edit everything that’s coming out of the box. Set aside some empty boxes and toss in items you don’t want, before you put them away. Then, take them to a donation center.
Separate items by general category, then zero in
When unpacking, work “macro and go to micro.” In other words, group like items together, think about where they should go, and put them in a tentative place. They don’t have to be arranged in a beautiful manner yet. You just want to get all your plates together and cups and glasses together, and so on. This helps the unpacking take shape, and gets all the boxes out of the way, so you can get a sense of living with the items in those spots. As you put things where you think you want them, don’t feel that the spot has to be permanent. It’s okay to change it up if it’s not working. Then you really start to hone in on the micro like putting silverware in the silverware tray or arranging dishes in a logical way.
Use organizers to cut clutter
After you’ve found a home for all your items, it’s time to sort everything out for good. Examine each closet, cupboard, and drawer to size up what kinds of trays, boxes, or other tools can help make things easier to access visually. This will help make the area look neater and more cohesive. Organizers designate a place for everything, so that it can easily be returned there.
Put things back where they go
To get everyone used to where different items live, try sticking a note to the outside of a cabinet or drawer, listing its contents. Leaving them in place for a couple of weeks will help everyone to remember both where things go and to put them away in the right place. Giving everything its own spot and always returning an item to that spot are essential for a clutter-free home. It prevents things like a colander from ending up with the dinner plates, and also helps family members develop automatic responses to finding and storing necessities.