How to Pare Down Before Moving – The 4 Box Technique

moving boxes

Parting with items that hold sentimental value can be difficult when it comes to relocating. If this “memorabilia”, however, is something that is no longer actually useful to you, it can be more of a burden than a blessing.

Decluttering before a move can (literally) take a lot off your hands—here’s how to do it with the “4 Box Technique”.

Step 1: Gather your boxes

For this step, you’ll need three boxes and a trash bin. Tape large labels to each box—these won’t have to be moving boxes, as they’ll be serving as a temporary go-between.

The Keep Box

Consider items that you use on a daily or weekly basis and lump them into this box. Assign a smaller box to this category. Otherwise, you may just be hoarding things you think you need.

The Donate or Sell Box

If you can bear to part with something because you aren’t getting much use out of it, add it to this box. Though it may be tempting to simply sell or donate anything you don’t need, ensure that you’re compiling items that are in relatively good condition.

The Storage Box

Can’t quite say goodbye to a childhood favorite or sentimental item? Keep them in this storage box. At best, you can use them as seasonal decorations.

The Toss Box

While this box is self-explanatory, carefully consider whether an item is better off being sold or donated. Toss things that are in poor condition and can be recycled.



Step 2: Declutter an area at a time

When decluttering, focus on your end goal, which is an organized and efficient home. Keep these useful tips in mind:

  • Work room-by-room and corner-by-corner to avoid getting overwhelmed.
  • Assign a room per day over the span of a week. Targeting to clear your entire home in a day may not be realistic.
  • Come up with an inventory and evaluate each item individually. If you can’t decide at that moment, refer to your inventory and come back to it later.

Step 3: Ask rational questions about each item

If you can’t decide whether to keep or toss an item, keep a list of questions handy. Ask yourself:

  • Do I use this item on a daily basis? If not- how often do I use it?
  • If I didn’t already have this item, would I purchase it?
  • How is this item meaningful to me?

If necessary, assign a “Maybe Box” that you can come back to later on. If an object has sentimental value to you, take a photo—framing it might suffice!

Step 4: Empty the boxes and repeat the process

Once your boxes are filled, empty them out, and repeat the process. Remember:

  • Throw out toss items immediately.
  • Transfer sell or donate items to a permanent box that you can drop off at a charity or use at a garage sale at a later date.
  • Properly pack away and label long-term storage items. Keep these boxes in your basement or garage—but don’t forget them later on.
  • Pack away your keep box—you don’t want to build up more clutter.


You don’t have to be a minimalist to learn to live with less. Training yourself to prioritize what you need most is a valuable skill to hone in the long run.

Need a local moving company to give you a hand with your move? We can’t tell you what to toss and keep, but at Green Van Lines, we can get you on the road in Dallas and Florida!

Excellent service
Great Work, Thanks to the guys for the effort
- Jack R.
Beuno servicio
Tuve una gran experiencia.
- Mike
Fast & Simple
Fast, Simple & easy....Great guys and friendly will def use again
- Nicolette rini
Excellent expedient work
The title says it all. I am a satisfied customer!
- Ryan Thompson
Thank You
Thanks again. We will be using you again in the future.
- Ryan Thompson