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3 Questions To Help You Declutter and Organize Your Home

Having moved numerous times as an adult, with and without kids, I've learned quite a bit about organizing and decluttering. Hopefully the knowledge I've gained will help you with your decluttering challenges.

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Some people are declutterers and organizers by nature; I became one as a result of circumstance.

My husband and I have lived in eight different homes/apartments since we got married 15 years ago. Consequently, I have a LOT of experience packing, unpacking, and setting up house.

Although I don’t know when our next move will happen, I've come to operate our home with a “moving mentality.” It affects everything from what I buy, to what I keep, to how I organize. It is a mentality I will probably live with forever.

I think that's a good thing!

Even if you plan to stay in your home for as long as you live, approaching your possessions with a “moving mentality” can help you make decisions about decluttering and organizing.

(As a side note, if you are anticipating a move at any point in your future, adopting this mindset now will pay major dividends when the time to move comes!!)

3 Questions That Will Help You Declutter and Organize:

1) If I were moving, would I take this?

  • The box of mostly broken crayons and dried out markers that’s been in that cabinet forever…
  • The expired herbs in the pantry…
  • The pile of unmatched socks...

Sometimes we keep things around just because they’re there, we think we might use them "someday," or they aren't taking up much space. But if you had to carefully wrap it in bubble wrap and pack it in a box, would it be worth the hassle?

If it’s something you would get rid of when getting ready for a move, get rid of it NOW! It doesn't matter if you're actually moving or not. It's all about asking the question and being honest about the answer.

This is also a good question to ask yourself before you make a purchase. I've found that I'm much more likely to grab little knick-knacks and doo-dads from Target or other stores when moving isn't on my mind.

But since I've become accustomed to moving, I am SO much better at saying "no" to unnecessary purchases. I know it's just going to be one more thing I'll need to deal with packing or organizing down the road.

2) If I were to pack the contents of this drawer/cabinet/shelf into a box, would it have a logical label?

This is a great question to ask if you want to get things organized inside your home.

I'm sure my mom fondly remembers the time we were at the tail end of packing for one of my cross-country moves. We were both completely exhausted and frustrated, and when she asked me how we should label the box we'd just packed, I grabbed the sharpie from her hand and scrawled "CRAP" in huge letters across the top of the box.

That pretty much summed it up.

Earlier today, as I was putting things into a catch-all cabinet in my laundry room, I realized that if I were to pack and label the items in the cabinet, it would have to say: Pool toys / candles / paper napkins / wrapping paper / flashlights.

That would not be a fun box to open and put away in a new house. I forced myself to stop then and there and put everything in a proper place, so that there's not another Box of Crap in my future.

Even if you aren’t moving, taking the time to put things with other similar items will make it so much easier to find them when you need them. You'll know exactly where to look because it will be stored with other, related items.

3) Would this be easy to pack quickly?


My numerous moves have made me a HUGE fan of clear plastic storage boxes. I love them because I can easily see what’s inside, and they come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate just about anything I need to contain.

I like to use stackable ones to organize inside cabinets, and shallow ones to place inside drawers to hold loose items like hair accessories, pens/pencils, first aid supplies, and other small things that could end up rolling around and getting lost.

You can use a label maker or just some masking tape and a sharpie to label what goes inside.

Not only do the bins keep our cabinets and drawers more organized, but I love knowing that when we do move again, I’ll be able to just toss a bunch of these smaller boxes inside a larger box and call it a day.

I’m also a big fan of using binders for paper organization.

Instead of stuffing papers into a folder or envelope, I break out my handy 3-hole punch and place them into a binder. It keeps the papers neat, and makes it SO much easier to find things when I need them. For items that can't be hole-punched, I place them inside a sealable envelope that attaches to the binder.

Bonus: If I ever needed to pack up my paperwork for a move, I wouldn’t have to worry about loose papers flying around or getting crumpled up inside a box.

Whether you're planning a move, or you just want to work on decluttering and organizing your home, these tips are a great place to start. Moving as much as we have hasn't been easy, but I can honestly say that I'm grateful for how it has helped me to keep a more streamlined and organized home. Hopefully this advice will help you, too!


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Tuesday 18th of December 2018

I had an aha moment when packing for a vacation. I wanted to travel light. That meant multipurpose items were needed. Slip on shoes made good airport shoes and house slippers. Neutral colors are good for skirts,slacks and shoes. A big shirt was a makeshift house robe. This made me consider the practical side of minimalism.


Wednesday 19th of December 2018

I agree...packing for a trip always gives me good perspective on what I actually need. And it’s freeing to pack light!


Wednesday 27th of December 2017

I use the expression, Would I pay to air freight this to Hawaii?? This really gets me to a yes or a no in a nano second. I have moved too many times but will move to a senior apt. In a year. Less is more.

Very interesting blog and comments.


Saturday 22nd of April 2017

Loved your help on decluttering. I so hang on to everything & even wince as I realize what I'm doing & then do it anyway. But for the 3-ring binder suggestion for papers that you don't want holes in, try buying plastic sheet protectors (8 1/2" x 11") from Office Depot or even WalMart. Documents slide right in, are easily visible & available & fit in 3-ring binders. The plastic protectors are slightly larger than the sheets so it's not necessary to punch any holes. Look for the kind where the ink doesn't stick to the sheet protectors. Great for birth certificates, diplomas, cemetery-grave site info, tax returns, anything that's important to you. These sheet protectors have been real life savers for me.


Monday 20th of March 2017

Moving in 12 days and "hit a wall " today ! This evening I read your article and it was so relatable ! I found your blog while taking a break and searching for moving tips. Your story gave me a nice morale boost as well as great tips ! Thanks!

Deborah Ray

Wednesday 21st of December 2016

What does one do with a life time of collecting when kids don't want it and I am not ready to give it away? Hummel, ladero, English blue and white nearly 400 pieces, stradfordshire figuries( 30) china, crystal decanters Steuben, bacarrart, Waterford, Santa Claus's nearly 200. Ect. Much more and I am down skiing in three months.

Laura Jones

Sunday 11th of February 2018

I have the same embarrassment of riches. I have a few rules. 1) Do I hate it? It goes. 2) Check for cracks, chips, or stains and discard anything that isn't in near perfect condition. 3) Don't save the entire set of china! From some sets of china I only have two cups and saucers, from others I only have four place settings. Save only the sugar bowls and creamers.


Saturday 24th of December 2016

Hi, Deborah!

I went through something similar a few years ago. Finances forced me to downsize and move and it was such a FREEING, life-changing experience!

One little "mantra" that I relied on to help me part with some beloved items was, "I've enjoyed this and cherished it, and now it's time for someone else to enjoy it and love it just as I have!" That has also helped me leave neat items on store shelves - "Someone else will discover it and love it!"

When it was time to downsize, I first invited my family to take whatever they wanted - my grown children first, then siblings.

Next, I invited my friends to come in and take something that they would love and that would help them remember me. It was really nice to have them in and see them take things I've loved and used and be able to use it in their own homes! (As much as that reproduction Virginia tobacco jar looked great in my Virginia home, it wouldn't really have much use in the mountains of rural West Virginia!)

Third, I signed with an auction house and they conducted an online auction (it was January!) Yes, it was hard to see some beloved items go but I just could not afford to move them, nor did I have the space where I was moving to (I moved from a three-story townhouse to a small, two-bedroom trailer that I just adored!) The toughest thing to part with was my original Barbie! So, I decided to arrange all of her outfits (Skipper's and Francie's, too) and put them in separate zip-lock bags by outfit. I admired the beautiful details of each item, the real zippers on the dresses, the little wooden bowl of "yarn" with nail "knitting needles", the metal spoon that I'd kept with the little plastic orange bottle of "medicine" in the nurse's outfit... You get the idea! The proceeds from the auction covered the cost of my move. In the course of the auction, I sold over half of my household belongings - actually, I think more - keeping only what I absolutely loved and couldn't replace, like my grandfather's chair and ottoman that I'd had refinished and reupholstered. I've learned over the years that I will ALWAYS find things I like - always! And you know what? When I got to WV and set up housekeeping, the furniture looked like it belonged and as if I'd planned it that way! Isn't that something? I think it goes to show that what I truly loved, deep down, all came from that space spot in my heart.

Fourth, I kept some things that I didn't know if I would decorate with in my new spot - things I loved and had used before but wasn't sure if I'd use them in WV. Some things I didn't need, I gave to thrift stores.

Fifth, I heard about a family who'd lost their entire home and all their belongings in a fire. Now, I know that when people suffer such things, donated items can frequently be things that not even Goodwill would consider. So, I invited the family over to the house and asked them if anything they saw might be something they'd like. It was a sheer delight to give them items that were tough to replace - original Longaberger pottery, Longaberger baskets, an extra Fontanini Nativity set and other Christmas decorations, framed prints, cookware that I, as a single woman, no longer needed, duplicates of kitchen items. They walked away with little treasures to decorate and use in their new home - and they did so with dignity. Me? I found a new friend and more space in my little house!

Sixth - and last, I think - we've had a number of couples in our Mennonite community marry recently. So, I had them walk through the house and if they commented on something, I invited them to take it for their new homes. I admit, I've had a hard time passing up a Baldwin Brass candlestick at Goodwill! But it was fun to gather them all together and invite the newlyweds to select two for their own homes. I have items upstairs that I've found at auctions here in the mountains, waiting to be resold. The newlyweds were invited to take something they saw and liked - five Blue Willow plates, two new one-gallon thermoses, can't recall what else. But I absolutely LOVE the fact that they will enjoy these little treasures (well, the thermoses aren't exactly "treasures" - more like "practical finds").

I love having space in my home. I went from seven bookshelves to one. The ability to downsize and to share your treasured belongings with others truly is a delight, a blessing, and so incredibly freeing! Now, there are some things that I won't part with - I still have my grandmother's antique Noritake and a few pieces of Waterford, four place settings of Lenox Holiday. (One daughter has the other 8 plus most of the serving pieces.) But my sterling is gone - I needed the money more than I did the silver - and I don't miss it. I could see selling or giving away the crystal, but never Grandma's china. I even have some pink Depression glass pieces that look nice with it - and some green Depression glass pieces that look nice with the Holiday!

Making the first move is the toughest, so try something not so tough. Maybe, give away some of your children's cherished baby clothes to a family that really could use something pretty. You'll be surprised and happy with how it makes you feel. Contact your local DHHR office or local churches to see if they know of families who might be able to use what you have. Be on the lookout for families who've lost their homes to disaster - the local Red Cross might be helpful here. Give anonymously - feels good! Donate items for a local fund-raiser auction - sometimes private schools look for things like this for auctions or silent auctions and it's a good way to share your blessings with a good cause.

Last, look at one shelf in your curio cabinet. Pretend the river was rising and you had to evacuate. What one item would you chose to carry with you? Maybe you decide that you really don't need anything on that shelf to load you down as you race to safety.

Oh, I guess I have one more thing. The Bible says that where our treasure lies, that is where our heart is, too. What is more important to you - your spiritual life or your worldly treasures? Sometimes that can help us make decisions, too.

Take care, good luck, and know that God can and will help you during this time. Ask and you will receive - insight, perspective, and wisdom. May he bless you on your journey.


Thursday 22nd of December 2016

Hi Deborah - It's a tough situation when you've got things with sentimental value. I don't have a perfect solution for you, but my thoughts are a) perhaps take photographs of your collections so that you can still remember the things without actually having them take up space in your home, and b) consider selling the valuable items and come up with an exciting use for the money. Perhaps you could take a trip with your family with the money you earn, or plan something else special so that it takes some of the sting out of parting with your collectibles.

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