Look at an upcoming move as your chance to declutter and start fresh.
Popular wisdom has it that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. That aphorism is true in most scenarios — but not when it comes to moving. Whether you’ve inked a lease on a new apartment or closed on your first home, it’s natural to want to skip straight to the part where you kick back and settle in.
But first you have to get yourself (and your stuff) there. Packing up everything you own is stressful, and the task of neatly securing all your belongings can be a sobering affair. You may not realize you’ve racked up 18 novelty coffee mugs until you’re trying to shove them into a single cardboard box.
According to professional organizer Ashley Murphy, cofounder of NEAT Method, a move is your chance to declutter and start fresh. Because clients often call on Murphy’s team after a move, she’s well aware of how much the “just pack it and deal with it later” mentality can hinder a chic new space.
“In a home, the goal is to have only what you truly need and use,” explains Murphy. “If your ice-cream maker hasn’t moved from the shelf in two years, why lug it to your new place?”
Point taken. To help you purge while you pack, we asked Murphy to share the things you shouldn’t even think about bringing to your new home.
1. Expired items
Go through everything that can possibly expire — spices, condiments, medications, beauty products — and toss anything past its use-by date. Murphy puts it this way: “If you only used a centimeter off the top of a jar of paprika one time, in one recipe, in 1990, do you really need it?”
2. Well-loved garments
The NEAT Method team coined this term to refer to threadbare and stained clothes that, while once wardrobe staples, are past the point of wearability. Anything akin to “a white T-shirt with yellowed armpits” should go.
3. One-time-only clothes
This includes bridesmaid dresses and even old Halloween costumes. “Many people cling to costumes, even though they go as something new every year,” says Murphy. If you won’t realistically wear something again, it belongs in the charity pile.
4. Repeat offenders
Do you have 20 black tank tops? Six wine openers? You might not realize it until you line them all up, but this is the time to take stock of duplicates and narrow your supply.
5. Trivial keepsakes
Murphy is often surprised to see how many people won’t part with old greeting cards and wedding invitations. Store only the keepsakes that really mean something to you and recycle the rest.
6. Pens and pencils
“I’ve come across households that had unknowingly accumulated enough writing implements to supply a school of 300 students,” says Murphy. Keep just a few and ditch any others that pop up in random drawers and storage bins as you pack.
7. Unused gadgets
Think about how many times you’ve used your small appliances and gadgets (the aforementioned ice-cream maker, panini press, waffle iron). Once, twice, or never? Say goodbye. If you don’t use it in your current home, you probably never will in your new one, either.
A digital music library lets you keep all the tunes you love but takes up virtually no physical space. Murphy suggests hiring a TaskRabbit to do the legwork of burning discs for you. A few hours and a few bucks later, and the deed is done.
9. Old magazines and books
This one is obvious, but it makes such a difference in lightening your load. Donate anything you’ve already read (along with anything that’s sat unread for ages) to a local library, nursing home, or family shelter.
10. Borrowed goods
Designate a “returns” bin as you pack, and throw in anything (books, clothes, pots, pans) that should go back to friends and family. “In going through clients’ homes, I can’t tell you how often I hear, ‘This belongs to so-and-so,’” says Murphy. “Before you move is the best time to actually make those returns. If you don’t do it now, you’ll forget.”