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The Move-Out Method helps you mercilessly declutter

The Move-Out Method helps you mercilessly declutter
Posted at 9:45 AM, Mar 31, 2023

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As the weather warms, many people get the urge to spring clean their homes. The idea of having a sparkling clean and tidy house or apartment certainly can be inspiring. But sometimes before we can deep clean, we need to make our way through piles of stuff that gathered for a few months — or longer.

Keeping a home organized year-round can be challenging. It might be easier in a single area like a kitchen, but what if you really want to overhaul your entire home’s organizational system?

Professional home organizer and writer Katie Holdefehr recommends a task that helps people see their stuff in a whole new light: the move-out method of decluttering. The basic idea? Invest time, effort and some boxes to pack up your home as if you’re going to move.

Sound crazy? Maybe a little extreme? There’s a method to Holdefehr’s madness based on her own experience.

An unhappy woman sitting on a sofa in a messy living room

“Having lived in several rental apartments myself, I’m no stranger to a big move,” she wrote in an article explaining her Move-Out Method in Real Simple. “And while each move was stressful and a ton of work, I became intimately familiar with the benefits of moving: nothing will ever make you as ruthless of a declutter or as thorough of a cleaner as moving will.”

As someone who recently went through a big move, I can attest to the motivation to get rid of unwanted items that comes with the imminent event. In fact, we found boxes of items that were basically untouched from our last move more than 10 years ago! Do you have any of those things lingering in a basement or attic? Then this organizational strategy just might be for you.


There are six steps to Holdefehr’s Move-Out Method:

  • Set a move date (this is your deadline to complete the decluttering process — since you’re not really moving).
  • Clear everything out (pack up your stuff)
  • Decide what to keep (ask yourself “If I was really moving, what would I take with me?”)
  • Get rid of the rest (donate or recycle what you don’t want)
  • Clean your empty areas (dust, vacuum and mop)
  • Move back in (organize your decluttered space)

Holdefehr gives a detailed breakdown of how to complete this transformation for your whole home (or just a room or two) in her Real Simple article. Also, you can see the Move Out Organizational Method’s results in her book “Embrace Your Space,” which is available on Amazon for about $25.

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