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How to declutter after a big move

Moving overseas is no small task, and I certainly found myself in the midst of chaos once my boxes began to arrive at my new home. Part of me was excited and thrilled to start decorating my new home with my husband, but the other part of me felt overwhelmed with having to sort through all my belongings. 

Many of my boxes had been carelessly handled and arrived squashed and split open at the sides. My clothes were full of dust and I ended up having to unpack all my boxes to check if everything was in good condition. Have you ever gotten behind on laundry? Imagine having your entire wardrobe piled up in and around the hamper. Between the everyday laundry that accumulates during the week and the rest of my wardrobe piled in heaps, I hardly felt like I knew where to start.

It wasn’t just the clothes either. My art and craft supplies had been tucked in here and there between the clothes to keep them from breaking. I also had to distribute the weight of my books by only putting 2-4 of them in each box. Everything was everywhere and everything was lost in piles of stuff.  

As you can see, everything was quite a big mess and I was feeling pretty overwhelmed about how everything was in such a mixed up heap. I’ve spent the past week really sorting things out though, and just want to share some tips on how to get started when you’re feeling overwhelmed after a big move. Don’t lose hope! There is light at the end of the tunnel!

#1. Choose a place to start – Don’t feel pressured to clean everything all at once! Try to break down the room into bite-sized pieces so that it feels more manageable. If you’re not sure where to start, try to think of a spot that you use the most frequently throughout the day or need to clear up so that things can get done. Personally, I started with my desk as that was the surface I needed to free up the most to get some work done.  

#2. Loosely sort things by category – The biggest tip I have for this step is to not make detailed categories. When I was going through each item on my desk, I only had a few big categories: books, papers, beauty products, accessories, and art supplies. I didn’t bother sorting my papers right then, I just stacked them in a pile. I wasn’t rearranging my beauty products but simply gathered them in the same place. Books were stacked on the bookshelf and accessories were gathered in a bowl. 

Sorting things loosely into general categories is a good way to start sorting for a couple different reasons. First, you get a lot more sorted in a shorter amount of time because you’re not spending a lot of time debating where to put something or whether you’re going to keep it or not. Second, it means that if you’re interrupted during the process or run out of time, it’s easy to pick up where you left off. Plus, if you need something throughout the rest of the day, it will be easier to find what you’re looking for if it’s already been sorted. For example, I was halfway sorted through my desk when I needed to meet up with a friend, but I didn’t have to dig around my desk for my eyebrow pencil because I had already collected my beauty products into one area. 

#3. Sort laundry into different piles – If you’re tackling any space that has clothes that will go into the laundry, it’s a good idea to also sort your laundry into several different piles so you can have laundry running in the background. I divided my laundry into 6 different piles: darks, lighter colors, whites, towels & underwear, delicates (knits, silk, lace, beading, ripped denim), and coats. Coats tend to be more bulky and take up more space, and may not necessarily go in the washing machine so it’s a good idea to stack them separately in a corner. When stacking delicates, I tend to loosely fold them just to make sure nothing will get snagged or creased in a way that makes it difficult to straighten out later. You may even want to keep some of your delicates hanging just to make sure they don’t get damaged. I save delicates and coats for last because usually they’re a bit more time-consuming as I will either wash them by hand or send it off to dry cleaning. The rest can be thrown into the washing machine and dryer and left to run while cleaning some other part of the house.

#4. Clear off an entire surface – Keep sorting things until you clear off an entire surface. That might mean you have temporary piles on the floor, but remember, it’s only temporary! Getting an entire surface cleared off feels so good and motivating. It will give you that extra motivation to tackle the next step!

#5. Choose the next step – Once you’ve cleared off one surface, think about what to tackle next. For me, the next spot was the bookshelves. I had books that I had taken from my desk to the bookshelf, but I knew I had stacks of books in different corners around the house as well. I wanted to round-up all the books in one spot so I wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore, so that was the place I chose next. 

#6. Breaking down the subcategories – One of the best tips for organizing I’ve learned is “Like With Like.” This tip was made by the professional organizer, Andrew Mellen, and it has changed the way I approach organizing altogether. If things that are similar to each other are placed in the same place, it’s much easier to find them later down the road. When I was organizing the bookshelves, I put all my calligraphy books together, all of Drew’s books by series, and then had two separate stacks for books I had already read and books I wanted to get to. Some people like to sort books in alphabetical order, others like to sort them by the color of the book. Personally, I like to keep anything in a series together, and then sort the rest of the books by topic. 

I’m still moving things around, but I’ve found that once I started sorting things into general categories and roughly knowing where everything was, it was easier to declutter and figure out where things went. If you need to declutter your home, I hope you’ll join in and declutter along with me! 

Your Turn ♥ Have you moved recently? Do you have any tips for decluttering?

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