As a real estate staging expert, I’ve had a first-row seat to the emotional stress my clients experience as they’re moving house.
Especially if you’ve lived in the same home for years, you’re likely feeling many things at once. You may be excited to move into a new place, sad to be leaving your memories behind, and overwhelmed with the looming pile of work that stands between you and your move.
All these conflicting feelings are why you should approach packing up your home with a system that was created to address the charged emotions that are tangled up with your stuff: the KonMari Method by tidying expert Marie Kondo.
Most of us begin packing up our homes with dread. We either pack slowly and painfully over months, or we grab a giant trash bag and whirl through our homes with a thoughtless frenzy. No one can blame us for doing this. But there’s a better way!
The KonMari method can improve not only the practicalities of preparing for your move but also the emotional aspects.
Here’s how you can apply Marie Kondo’s six core principles for tidying up to moving:
1. Envision your old home and your new home as perfectly organized
For Marie Kondo, envisioning your home decluttered and organized should be one of the first things you do before tidying. The goal is to inspire motivation for your task. This is even more powerful in the context of moving as you think about the fresh start that awaits you.
Plus, homes that are no longer filled with the remnants of the previous owners—and instead are staged by a real estate staging company with neutral décor and furniture—on average sell for 6.32% more than your list price. That can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket. What could be more motivating than that?
So, before you succumb to stress thinking about everything still to be done, take a moment and just imagine how great it will feel to have your old home completely squared away and your new home organized.
2. Think of everything in your home as part of a category, rather than part of a room
A big part of the KonMari method is cleaning by category rather than location. When you’re moving, it’s tempting to pack up room by room so that you have that feeling of satisfaction when you finish a room.
But when you go by category—such as “papers” or “clothing”—you can get a birds-eye view of how many items in each category you have. Then, you can make a truly informed decision about what to keep and what to give away.
In addition, you will avoid the nightmare of trying to unpack boxes that include a nonsensical collection of items. Going room by room, you might create a box with the books that were on your coffee table, several candles, a throw rug, and a couple of couch cushions…plus some miscellaneous cat toys. This method makes for disorganized and inefficient packing. Going category by category, on the other hand, you’ll have neat boxes marked “Books” or “Pet toys.” Much easier to pack and to unpack!
Marie Kondo recommends the following categories for general tidying: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and sentimental. When you’re moving, you should add categories to account for all of your things. For example, you could add furniture, appliances, décor, electronics, and lighting to her original list.
3. Follow the KonMari Method order of tidying to avoid getting sidetracked by nostalgia
It’s impossible not to have an emotional reaction to packing up your home. Unfortunately, getting caught up in that forgotten photo album or an old journal can derail your packing efforts for the day.
That’s why Marie Kondo recommends leaving the “sentimental” category for very last. Do your best to ignore sentimental items as you pack, knowing that you will have time to muse over memories once everything else has been put into boxes.
4. Give away items before packing the “keepers”
As you pile together all your items from each category, you may feel the pull to start packing the ones you’re “certain” you want to keep. But, as the KonMari Method dictates, you should finish giving away the items you don’t want before you even start organizing the ones you do want. This way, you know exactly how many items you’re keeping in that category—and you can judge if you should give away more before you pack.
5. Even if you’re eager to be done, don’t be thoughtless in your packing
There is so much that you have to check off your to-do list before you can finally consider your move finished. Still, resist the urge to hurriedly separate items into “keep” and “toss.” The most revolutionary takeaway from the KonMari Method is to treat your things with respect and care.
Especially for those “miscellaneous” items, pick up each item and pause for a moment before deciding whether or not to keep it. Ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it does, let yourself feel that joy, and then place it into the keep pile. If it doesn’t, feel good about your decision to let it go. This helps you gain a sense of control over the process of downsizing and reduces the stress that so often comes along with moving.
6. Finish packing before you put your home on the market
The KonMari Method advises committing completely to tidying for a full day or even longer so that you finish more quickly. When you’re moving, commit to packing and organizing by creating a deadline for finishing—before the last minute.
Too many homeowners drag on the transition process for months, essentially living between two homes. Or, they don’t give themselves enough time to properly pack up, not anticipating their home will sell as quickly as it does. Both scenarios lead to overwhelm.
Instead, commit to organizing and packing everything before a specific date. That way, you can plan for the next step—selling your home—accordingly.
Moving house is the perfect time to declutter and downsize your stuff. For many of us, it can be just the impetus we need to finally feel control of all the things we’ve accumulated over the years.
Hopefully, these tips for using the KonMari Method when moving will help you face the challenge of packing with less stress—and maybe even some joy.