lather, rinse, repeat.
This chant is on my lips as I move through my days right now. It's how you go from this:
I would have added "fast" but we try to stick to non-fiction writing over here. Speed is dependent on a lot of variables - energy level, interuptions/distraction possibilities, and how much cr@p you actually have to work through. When you see the shows on tv move through areas in record time you have to consider how much man power they have. If you are doing all the lifting and hauling and labeling yourself it will take longer. If you have to stop to tie small shoes, nurse babies, or referee tween disagreements this will impact.
Still, it all works the same way process wise. You'll need a pile to keep, to give away, and a big bag or box for stuff to toss for the first round. Divvy up all the items into those piles. Get rid of the tossers and the giveaways. Then store the keepers appropriately. If we had more time and materials I would have printed coordinating labels here. (and am determined to do this when stateside again!) Truth is, index cards and a pen do the job for now so it is what it is. This is about getting the job done, even if it flies in the face of my aesthetics loving self.
Ziplock storage bags and clear packing tape are my staple items. I put all puzzles, manipulatives, and games into the 2 gallon size bags. Another buzz phrase - "like with like". Office supplies in smaller size bags. Flash cards, sewing supplies, you name it, they all get bagged and then boxed. On the other end I can grab the bags easily and distribute them to whichever rooms work best in the new house. Again, I hope to have some lovely storage containers when that happens but truth is, the school supplies (pencils, pens, ruler, scissors, glue) are contained and totally functional right now with them all in one gallon sized bag. So some of that is to impress ourselves and other moms vs an absolute need. Save your cash for when you truly have things pared down and functioning super well.
Some boxes got a purge and restock. Here is the gift wrap/party box. We have worked out of this while in England. We save gift bags (yes, they aren't cheap) and have tissue paper, scissors, bows tossed in along with party items like streamers and candles. All right there. Not a huge variety. In fact, I think it would be even wiser to pick neutrals like metallics or black and white or whatever that would work for any event. Then you certainly can grab and go from the box on short notice. Wrapping stuff is pricey.
Alright, back at it. Will be honest - we are not machines. As Clutter Diet explains here, one of the hardest parts of sorting, tossing, storing is how inevitably you are drawn back to where you were when you got or used the items first. It's that emotional work that is exhausting, not the physical part. As I mentioned before it is perfectly ok to decide you are not ready to deal with momentos. If so, go straight to logical storage and tackle more practical messes first. Those go quickly.
Sort, stack, toss, store.
If you want some hand holding I highly recommend Peter Walsh's 31 Day Challenge with video coaching. (free!) You work in small chunks and get solid habits established.
Pinterest fan? Join me over here. I am planning the infrastructure of the next house. Very excited.