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PCS Like a Pro: 10 Tips to Help You Declutter Before your PCS

10 tips to help you declutter before your PCS

Are you a military family expecting a PCS this season? Follow these 10 tips to help you declutter before you PCS. Grab my FREE 10-day declutter checklist now to stay on track and focused during your PCS move.

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10 things you can declutter NOW before you PCS

Grab my FREE 10-day declutter checklist now!

Graphic for the FREE 10-day declutter checklist to help military families declutter for their PCS

Today, I’m sharing my top 10 decluttering tips to streamline your PCS preparation. I’ve also compiled a free downloadable checklist with these tips on my website. Whether prepping for a move or just craving a clutter-free space, these quick decluttering strategies have got you covered. Let’s dive in!

I am an Amazon affiliate and share some product links throughout this post. Please know that if you use these links to shop, you will not pay extra, but I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your consideration and for supporting my small business.

PCS decluttering tip #1: Start with the least used areas first

So, here’s the thing about decluttering: it’s easy to want to jump straight into the spaces you’re always in, right? But here’s my advice: flip the script. Start with those areas you hardly touch instead. That way, if time flies by (as it tends to do during a PCS), you’ll at least have sorted through the stuff you don’t use all the time. So, kick things off with those storage spots and gradually make your way to the places you live in everday.

PCS Decluttering Tip #2: Involve your family

When decluttering as a family, it’s essential to honor each member’s belongings and space. Instead of diving into decluttering other family member’s stuff, encourage everyone, including the kids, to take ownership of their possessions. Giving them a say over what stays and what goes empowers them and teaches valuable decision-making skills. Plus, it fosters a sense of responsibility and respect for personal space within the family unit.

PCS Decluttering Tip #3: Have a plan

Before decluttering, it’s crucial to have a solid plan for where your donations and trash will go. Equally important is setting a clear timeline for taking those items out. This ensures that your packers won’t accidentally pack what you’ve painstakingly decluttered come moving day. Streamlining this process helps maintain momentum and efficiency, ensuring your efforts aren’t wasted. Pro tip: Use heavy duty trash bags so they do not break when moving to the donation center or dump!

PCS Decluttering Tip #4: Prepare a last-day/first-day box

During one of my first PCS moves, my husband and I let the packers pack up EVERYTHING. We hadn’t thought out the logistics of what we would need the night the moving truck pulled away, and we hadn’t considered that there would be items we would need the first day we arrived at the new house before our moving truck got there. And, because we didn’t have extra funds, it was nearly impossible to front the money for a hotel. As we’ve gotten older, we have learned to keep certain items with us, especially if the moving truck is delayed or we haven’t found a house at the new duty station.

Pro tip: about 2 weeks out from your move, start collecting these items in your “no pack” zone. If you are driving a car, you will want to file this move as a Partial DITY(PPM) to receive reimbursement for this weight. Depending on space, using heavy-duty totes like these can help ensure that items make it safely from one location to the next.

For more information on a Partial PPM, check out this article.

PCS Decluttering Tip #5: Remember your why

One question I always pose to clients gearing up for a PCS: Why declutter? Yes, I said it – why? With all the chaos of relocating, from managing kids and pets to juggling job transitions, the last thing you need is extra stress about your belongings. Yet, it’s a common concern. But here’s the reality: packers will pack, movers will move, and all that stuff will follow. Sure, it might feel like postponing the inevitable, but remember, there’s no right or wrong amount of stuff. And when the pack-out day arrives, everything comes along for the ride.

However, if genuine worries persist, it may be time for an efficient decluttering plan. This might call for a virtual session with me to strategize and execute. Legitimate concerns include fear of exceeding weight limits and facing charges, downsizing to a smaller home, navigating weight restrictions, or opting for a partial DITY move. If any of these concerns sound familiar, let’s work together to address them in a way that feels right for you.

PCS Declutter Tip #6: Leave sentimental items for last

When preparing for a PCS move, leaving sentimental items for when you have the most energy is key. These treasures often require thoughtful consideration, and by saving them for a time when you’re mentally prepared, you can ensure they receive the attention they deserve. Additionally, if something holds immense value, consider carrying it with you or packing it securely to preserve its significance during the move. Prioritizing these sentimental belongings ensures they’re handled with care and respect throughout the transition. I always like to wrap my breakable items in bubble wrap before the packers get there, just in case.

PCS Declutter Tip #7: Ziploc baggies are your friends

Here’s a little moving hack straight from my experience: Ziploc bags are my unsung heroes! Whether they’re the brand name or the trusty dollar store version, these little bags are absolute lifesavers. About a week before the big move, I go on a Ziploc bag spree, corralling all those small items that could turn into a chaotic mess on the other end. From loose screws to stray jewelry, everything gets its own tidy little baggie. Trust me, it’s a game-changer when you’re unpacking in your new place and everything is exactly where it should be.

PCS Declutter Tip #8: Divide large projects into manageable chunks

Tackling a big decluttering project can feel overwhelming, especially when faced with a mountain of belongings. That’s why it’s crucial to divide and conquer. Instead of staring down the daunting task of decluttering your entire master closet in one go, break it down into bite-sized chunks. Start with something manageable, like decluttering your short-sleeved shirts, then move on to long sleeves, pants, and so forth. By taking it one category at a time, you’ll prevent burnout and maintain your momentum. And hey, if you need a helping hand to break those large projects into smaller, more manageable categories, my PCS planning sessions are here to lend a hand.

PCS Declutter Tip #9: Start with easy targets

When decluttering for your PCS, aim for the low-hanging fruit first. Trash, broken items, and expired goods are the perfect places to start. Clearing out these easy targets frees up space and sets the stage for a smoother packing process. Plus, if you’re one of the lucky ones who receives last-minute orders, tackling these areas first ensures you’re making progress even in a time crunch.

PCS Decluttering Tip #10: DITY: Declutter as you Pack

If you opt for a DITY (or do it yourself) move, declutter as you pack. It will save you money on purchasing packing materials, and it will save you time from having to pack items that you don’t want. You are handling and touching every item anyway (unless you hire packers) so you might as well make the most of your time and declutter as you go! Check out these awesome packing bags from Amazon!

If you like these tips, check out my article: 10 items to declutter before you PCS. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at And until next time, happy decluttering and happy organizing, y’all!

Know someone who is PCSing? Make sure to share this article!

Love these tips? Make sure to check out my other articles about military life:

I’m your gal if you are struggling with decluttering and need coaching and accountability. Don’t hesitate to reach out and book a FREE 30-minute call to see how I can help!

4 Responses

  1. I have always decluttered while packing, but it makes sense to do it first. That would definitely make packing a lighter job which could be started closer to moving day, reducing the issue of packing something only to have to dig it out of the box when you find you need it again.

  2. Terrific tips! Starting in the less-used areas is very smart. Odds are, you want to take more of the stuff in the spaces you are using all the time.

    I love Ziploc bags as well. I find they are handy for corralling the cables from a piece of equipment, and you can just tape the back to the back of the TV, gaming system, whatever. That way, when it comes time to hook everything back up again, you have the exact cords you need.

  3. If you can declutter before moving, it’s great. However, I know it’s only sometimes possible. You made a compelling case for doing the work in small steps before the move.

    I love the Ziploc bag idea of containing those loose parts and small items so they don’t get misplaced. And those packing bags are fantastic. I used something like that when our kids went to college. One advantage was that the bags could be stored flat after unpacking them without taking up precious space.

  4. Wonderful tips Jana.
    I love the advice about starting with the least area or used items. We all push these areas to last because we don’t want to deal with it.
    I also love the Ziploc bag and use it all the time with clients and in my own house, very convenient.

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Jana Arevalo- Declutter Coach, The Organized Military Life

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 18 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with Share-a-Sale and List & File, Military Life Binders. I receive a small commission (at no cost to you!) if you purchase through my links. Thank you!


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