Once you’ve found your perfect home, the preparations for moving day begin! Inevitably, when you start putting all of your things into boxes, you’ll realize there are plenty of items that don’t need to come with you. Rather than save it for the last moment, why not consider downsizing before you begin to pack?

By decluttering and downsizing, you not only help yourself to eliminate the strain of packing (and unpacking), but you will likely even lower your moving bill. Local movers tend to charge by the hour while long distance movers assess based on how much stuff you have, and space it will take up in the truck. In either case, if you take the time to downsize before your move, you’ll do yourself a bit favor.

So what’s the best approach to this task? With the following tips, you can tackle it like a pro.

Allow enough time

The start to a good decluttering strategy is to give yourself enough time to evaluate what to keep and what to get rid of. The weeks leading up to a move can be pretty full of practical things to take care of, so try to approach this at least a couple of months in advance.

Take an organized approach

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Rather than going through your entire house, expecting to tackle the whole thing at once, take a more systematic approach. Different rooms have different items, and it can be challenging to go room-by-room and get a clear picture of just what you’ve got (and how many!). Instead, categorize your belongings and tackle them that way.

You’ll be much more effective in both downsizing and finding a new home for the “discard” pile if you approach things this way. Start, for example, by taking all of your clothes from closets and dressers, putting them all together, then sorting from there.

Plan for the unwanted items

This is an important one to consider – you don’t want to find yourself with piles of items to get rid of, without a plan for where they’ll go. If you want to donate your items to a non-profit organization, determine the practical details. Do they accept donations every day of the week, or only on certain days or times? Which organization would you like to pass your items to? And, for that matter, will all of your items go there, or only certain categories?

Chances are, you may have items you’d like to sell, and there are a few ways to approach this. You can take the classic approach and have a garage sale, or the more technologically-dependent option, use online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to find buyers. Selling online can take a bit longer and relies upon making arrangements to meet people and pass the items on to their new home, so be sure you take this into account.

By making a plan ahead of your sorting, you’ll be able to divide the items appropriately when you determine what you’re not keeping. You’ll also be sure not to get stalled at the “giveaway pile” stage.

Start sorting

With the first few steps out of the way, now is the time to start sorting. Finding items you haven’t seen in a while can bring up nostalgia, and you can find yourself playing dress-up or keeping many things you didn’t even remember you own. Here are some things to consider when you start exploring your things:

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Be realistic about your lifestyle

Sure, those cocktail dresses are cute, and those sets of lycra you bought 5 years ago will be useful someday when you finally take up bicycle racing. Right? Try to stay level-headed when you’re going through your things, and consider what your lifestyle is actually like.

If you’re not so into fancy parties, have been telling yourself for many years that you’ll take up that sport or hobby (but never did), or you still have things from a bygone day when you used to spend time doing an activity that you don’t anymore, let those items go. Don’t worry, as your lifestyle changes in the future, you can get the things you need. For now, all of this extra stuff is just taking up space.

Evaluate your furniture

This is an important one whether you’ve already found your dream home, or you’re still on the hunt. Take inventory of your furniture ahead of time, including measurements. This will help you plan for your relocation to the new space because you’ll know what fits and what just… doesn’t.

Carry on after moving day

Once you’ve picked up the momentum of downsizing and passing items along, keep this spirit alive even after you’re in your new place. There’s a chance that there are things you missed or have changed your mind about, so keep that in mind while unpacking. As you empty a box, consider whether you really need the things you’re taking out. A particularly telling sign of necessity, is whether you’ve used (or even unpacked) things within the first month of moving in, so pay attention.

Once you’ve downsized your items and you’re ready for a fresh start in your new home, Flatrate can help get your items there safely.