how to sort belongings

A fundamental part of downsizing is sorting through your possessions. Paring down creates an opportunity to surround yourself with things you’ll use, need, and love! Kirsten Awe, a professional organizer and Senior Move Manager with Rightsize Moving Solutions in Wichita KS, offers some pro tips on how to choose what to bring with you, and what should be left behind.

How to Sort Your Belongings Before a Move

Select the Furniture to Take With You
Furniture is first on this list, as it sets the stage for everything else you can bring. It can provide spaces for both displaying decor and storing unsightly items, so it is important to consider your options carefully. Remember these tips when choosing pieces for your new home:

  • Keep pieces that can serve more than one function
  • Choose furniture that you can use to store items
  • Stick to smaller-scale pieces that will fit comfortably in your new space
  • When torn between similarly sized pieces, choose tall, narrow pieces over short, wide ones. This better utilizes floor space while maintaining storage capacity

Once you know which furniture pieces you’re keeping, you can use them to “stage” your home. This will help you visualize the amount of space you’ll have to work with, making it easier to determine your storage strategy before you begin sorting your other belongings.

Sort Through your Drawers and Shelves
Now that you know what furniture is going with you, it is time to make sure the contents within are worth bringing into your new home. Start by going through the drawers, shelves, and other storage areas of the pieces you’re keeping, then do the same for the pieces that aren’t coming with you. Make a plan for where displaced “keep” items will reside in your new home, rather than putting them in a box and worrying about it later. Be sure to consider design and practicality along the way. If it helps you to visualize, you may want to try arranging items on the furniture you’re bringing along. Remember, when you’re saying “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to something else. Make sure you say “yes” to the things that really matter!

Let’s look at an example. Say you have a buffet that contains all the table cloths and candles you used for entertaining. Are you still going to be entertaining like you did? Do the table cloths fit the table you’re taking? Will you really be burning candles in your new place? With all of the extra space you’ll have after paring down the contents of your buffet, you can store other things there. For example, if you’re not taking a desk to your new residence, you may still want a spot to stash office supplies like envelopes and stamps. Maybe the buffet is a good place for those!

Tips for Visualizing Storage Space
This practical trick will help you visualize the amount of space you’ll have in your new home:

  1. Make note of the number of cabinets and drawers you have in your new kitchen and bathrooms.
  2. Put a piece of colored tape for each cabinet or drawer in your new home on the outside of the cabinets and drawers in your current home.
  3. Start placing things you want to take in those areas, removing and setting aside items you don’t want.
  4. Once those marked cabinets and drawers are full, you’re out of space!

Sorting Your Clothing
Assessing your wardrobe is an important piece of downsizing. Cull through all the drawers of your dresser, getting rid of anything that is in disrepair, doesn’t fit, or you don’t like anymore. Also think about quantity, gauging what you need by how frequently you do laundry. If you wear a clean pair of socks every day before doing laundry, how many pairs of socks will you need? Pare down to a decent minimum, then see if you can combine items into one drawer!

Get your closet move-ready by measuring the bar and shelving space in your new home, then taping out that same space in your existing closets. As you’re sorting, pull the items you don’t want and set them aside. When you’ve finished, if your clothes are too scrunched together or simply won’t fit, it means you have too much! Remember the universal 80/20 rule: we only wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. What is your 20%?

Pro Tips for Sorting for a Move
Here are some final considerations when sorting through belongings before a move:

  • Take pictures of your home before you start sorting: this will help you re-create the layout of rooms you loved.
  • Take pictures of cherished items that you aren’t able to take with you.
  • Remove photos from frames and place in photo albums.
  • Store media digitally when possible.
  • It’s okay to break up sets! Lose what you won’t use (take two place settings of your favorite china instead of six)
  • Don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy “the good stuff”. Enjoy it now!

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