How to sort and declutter, that is a sticky question. If you have a huge limit on both time and money you need to buckle down and make the best choices you can. What should you keep and stuff in storage? Things you can’t replace, things you can’t just buy again at a thrift store or big box store. Grandma’s china might be gorgeous and one of your favorite things, but you could buy more china when you are back on your feet. The photos from your little darling’s kindergarten graduation, however, you can’t get anywhere. Some decisions may be painful, but if you have no time or money you have to give your worldly possessions some tough love.
There is also the issue of your quality of life once you find a place. If you have to get rid of every single pan you own, and when you set up the new place you have to wait for your first check to buy one, cooking is going to be hard. Every situation is different, so use your best judgment.
There are hoarder tendencies in my family. Living at the bottom of the financial fish pond makes you nervous. You can’t just go out and buy a new one if something breaks. You can’t go on a shopping spree if your clothes are getting a little raggedy. I have struggled for a long time with how to organize my duplicates, and parts, and broken things, and any free toy my children were ever offered, and every kid’s book on the planet.
I believe I have found the organizing method that works for me. Japanese organizer Marie Kondo claims that you should discard everything that does not “spark joy.” The thing that is driving me to purge mercilessly is that I can clear the air and surround myself with things that I love, that “spark joy.” I know exactly what she is talking about, and most of my stuff does the opposite. I have realized that most of my stuff either makes me feel worried that I will need it at some point if I get rid of it, feel guilty that I am not taking better care of my stuff and home, feel anxious that there are too many things to sort and clean and burn on a funeral pyre, and feel like I am neglecting my children if I do not limit them to one dozen rubber duckies. This storm of negativity and terribleness is not my favorite thing. To learn more about Marie Kondo, check out De-Cluttering Your House With Love and One Guru’s Approach to Decluttering Your Home—and Your Life, or buy her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
How to sort clothes? Clothes were actually pretty easy for me. If it is missing a button or has a stain that won’t come out, donate it (I have rescued clothes other people have given up on). If it is too big, too small, or otherwise makes you self-conscious, get rid of it. I am a comfort monkey, if I am not comfortable I’m pretty much never going to wear it. Don’t keep clothes because they have sentimental value. Take a picture of it if it means that much to you. Grandma’s wedding dress is highly unlikely to fit you, but if that’s the one thing that you really want to keep then you need to make that decision intentionally.
How to sort in the kitchen? It is hard to decide what to keep. If you haven’t used it in the last year, it’s safe to get rid of it. If it does not have multiple uses, you may want to get rid of it. Even if you can’t stand to give up the teddy bear cake pan when your kids have all grown, you should consider it before you decide to keep it all and overflow storage. Have you used the waffle maker or ice cream maker in the last six months? There are recipes for ice cream that don’t use a maker, so you can still have your dessert without storing that honker of an appliance. My hubby love love loves rotisserie chicken, but I have found that whole chicken made in the crock pot is more moist. Read this article from Stone Soup on how to set up a minimalist kitchen, to help you determine what you really need. This article will help you to be thoughtful about what you use in the kitchen, and decide what you need to pack to move with you, and what can stay in storage until you are more stable.
How to sort food? When packing food leave the prepared/quick stuff for last. Canned soups, boxed pastas, etc. As you pack the rest of your kitchen equipment these will look better and better, and will be handy once you move and have no idea where your stuff is. You could pack it first and set it aside, but then at the end you will be unpacking some of it to eat. Most food pantries will take any food, including slightly expired food, and it will do you no good for an extended period in storage.