Decluttering: How Do I Actually Do It?

I have always been bad at decluttering. I am, in fact, a bit of a pack rat. It’s a family trait passed down through the generations, and one I find impressively difficult to manage in myself sometimes.

But now, as I’m preparing to move to new housing within the next month, I am forced to face the truth: If I don’t do decluttering very soon, I’m screwed.

As of yesterday, I had to move out of my home I’ve lived in for two years, and the city where I’ve lived for four. Add in the stuff I inherited from predecessors, and my successor wanting almost none of mine, and suddenly I found myself in quite a pickle. I’ve moved all my things to an extremely generous friend’s house while I wait to locate my next home, but…


It took 3 car loads, the third of which was extremely full, to transport all my things. And that’s AFTER shipping nearly 100,000 yen (currently $700 or so) worth of boxes back to my family in America and selling or giving away all my furniture.

Obviously, this ain’t all going to fit in my car for the long trip, and I don’t know of anything like U-Haul in Japan, especially not at affordable prices. I can ship SOME of it in the mail, but too much heavy stuff and it’ll be hundreds of dollars.

So, decluttering is an absolute necessity. Packing perfectly is required.

I’ve never actually had to do this kind of thing before. I’ve lived in about 12 separate places in the past ten years, but I’ve usually just been able to take everything with me back and forth and deposit what I didn’t need at my Mom’s house where I keep collectibles and mementos and things like that.

This is probably what that Kondo Marie person is always talking about, but I always ignored discussion of her so I don’t know what’s up. Ugh, I’m so busy already! I don’t wanna do this too. It’s even worse in Japan, where you can’t just donate stuff to thrift stores, because they don’t really have them; they only have the paid stores that usually won’t accept typical junk because they’re too good for it apparently. I’ll have to throw away a lot of junk and feel very bad in the process.

I need your advice and tips. What’s the best way to approach this? How do I successfully “move house,” as the Britishes say, with minimal anguish?

Unrelated to this blog completely: Take this chance after giving me advice to log onto Tapas and subscribe to my stories. Yes, good, good.

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6 thoughts on “Decluttering: How Do I Actually Do It?

  1. My only tip is…let your future self know how hard this was so you’re REALLY picky about what mementos and collectibles you collect in the future.

    My last move was so annoying that I vowed to be pickier about what I buy in the future, and to ditch some of my old mementos/collectibles. The second part of that statement is hard and slow going, though…

  2. I’ve only ever moved once (as an adult, on my own) after living in the same place for a very long time, and the best advice I can give is: you gotta be ruthless.

    If you have to shed a lot of stuff, rather than trying to decide what to get rid of, try starting by selecting what to keep. And be very very selective indeed.

    1. Selecting what to keep is probably the best path. I have a very limited amount of space in my car, as I have learned in the 3 trips it took to transport all my things to my friend’s house. Even if packing more effectively can limit some of that stuff, basically I’ve got two suitcases, two boxes, and a single tote bag I can fill and that’s 90% of the space taken up. So, I ought to pack those as soon as possible.

      1. Best of luck, seriously! You wanna vent or complain, you know where to find me, I’m always happy to lend an ear. I’ve done the same thing, but only once, and I had to shed a lot of possessions to make it work.

  3. Too late for advice, but as someone who had to move basically twelve times in a ten year period, I eventually just started chucking everything I hadn’t used for several months, to whittle everything down to the essentials. Of course, you always end up needing more than you think, and some junk you just can’t bring yourself to lose.

    I will say it definitely turned me into an anti-packrat. I can and will throw out basically anything I don’t use for a while, as long as it isn’t a pain in the ass to do it. Occasionally, this has come back to bite me, such as when I finally got rid of a scanner after five years of not using it, only to end up needing a scanner for something just two months later. For the most part, though, I haven’t missed much of what I’ve lost.

    1. I’ve actually moved about 12 times in the last 10 years too… But I never had to downsize to move, just until this last time. I threw out a lot, but not NEARLY enough, so my hopefully-far-away next move will once again be quite tough if I don’t start shedding stuff over time.

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