After a lifetime of accumulating possessions, you’ve decided that it’s time to downsize. You want to maximize the space in your home and ensure it meets your changing needs, and you want to improve safety by removing clutter and other hazards. You also know that downsizing will improve your peace and joy. While the process of sorting through collectibles, paperwork and furniture can be intimidating and stressful, the effort allows you to create a home environment that fosters a healthy lifestyle. Consider numerous tips that reduce stress as you downsize.
How to Decide What to Keep
Deciding what to keep and what to give away can be one of the biggest challenges of downsizing. Learn how to make these decisions quickly and effortlessly.
First, prioritize your keep list. On a notepad, list all the items you would take with you to a deserted island. Add those items to your must-keep list before you sort through everything else.
Next, plan your space. You may wish to turn a spare room into a crafting space or get rid of your dining area. As you create a home that meets your needs, you maximize your space and decide which items to keep.
You’re now ready to address your collectibles and heirlooms. Save only your favorite or most prized collectibles and assemble a scrapbook with pictures of the items you give to family and friends, sell at an estate sale or donate to charity.
Tackle piles of paper, too. Instead of keeping every single birthday card you ever received, save the most important papers in a scrapbook and scan the rest into a digital file you can access anytime. For other papers, experts suggest you keep:
- Seven years of tax records.
- Receipts that support the recent tax year deductions.
- Medical records for all procedures.
- Warranty paperwork and owner’s manuals for appliances and electronics you currently own.
Finally, only keep items you use. Sell, donate or toss clothing, bedding and other items you haven’t touched, used or looked at in the last six months.
After you prioritize what items you want to keep, select from over a dozen decluttering techniques, all designed to help you successfully purge your possessions with as little stress as possible. For the best results, try each technique at least once and choose the ones that fit your style, personality and needs the best or alternate techniques when you feel bored or stuck.
- Make goals
- Commit to purging
- Set a timer for 7, 15, 20 or 30 minutes
- Use a daily to-do list
- Move systematically through each room
- Pick a daily theme
- Clear one drawer at a time
- Sort into four bins
- Touch each object once and train yourself to make decisions quickly
- Ask yourself “yes or no.”
- Reserve emotionally challenging sorting tasks for your most energetic time of day
- Plan an estate sale
- Give others permission to presort
- Invite your kids or grandkids to help you complete sentimental tasks
- Hire a professional organizer
De-Cluttering Techniques Explained
When you begin to make downsizing goals, maybe you want to sort at least 30 minutes a day or empty the garage before your next family picnic. Creating short-term and long-term goals will motivate you to remain consistent. You can even start small by sorting at least one pile or drawer daily and make purging a habit. When you sort, setting a timer will help you work with focus. Creating a daily checklist can be really helpful with this!
As you move through each room, go from left to right and top to bottom as you sort through your home. Picking a daily theme such as books, shoes or toiletries can also be helpful. When you start one task, make sure you stay on task! As you begin to sort, place them into one of four piles: keep, sell, donate, or toss. Do it right away! If you wait, you're simply prolonging the task. Save those mundane tasks for times when you have less energy, such as sorting office supplies.
If you have a lot that you don't feel the need to sort through, consider having an estate sale. Better yet, bring in some trusted family or friends to help you pre-sort. These people may be able to be more objective and help you stay on task.
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How to Maintain Momentum
Downsizing your home can feel like a never-ending process. To maintain your momentum and stay on track, keep your goal in mind. Do you want to create a safe home environment for you and your spouse, prepare for adaptations you need as you age or give your loved one’s valuable antiques now? Write your goals on paper, and tape them to your bathroom mirror or coffee pot so you can stay motivated to work on decluttering every day.
Also, view the decluttering process as a marathon, not a sprint. Feel free to take breaks when you need them and give yourself time to process emotions as you spend weeks rather than days clearing out your home.
Manage the Stress of Downsizing
Letting go of the valued possessions you spent a lifetime accumulating is stressful, and you may feel emotional, anxious and frustrated as you recall memories and prepare for change. However, you owe it to yourself and your future to persevere.
To manage the stress effectively as you downsize:
- Be honest about how you feel about retirement, aging and downsizing.
- Journal your feelings every day and process the changes you are experiencing.
- Get enough rest, eat a balanced diet and stay active.
- Talk to a trusted friend or therapist if you get stuck.
With these steps, you prepare to face this new season of life with courage, confidence and peace.
Make Home Alterations Before You Need Them
By downsizing now, you prepare for a healthy lifestyle in the future. After you remove items you no longer use or want, you may also discover that your home needs a few alterations and repairs that will help you remain safe as you age at home. Consider several functional and practical alterations.
- Widen doorways
- Lower kitchen cabinets
- Install safety adaptations in the bathroom
- Revamp storage solutions so you can reach everything you need
- Build an outdoor entrance ramp
- Repair broken stair railings, floorboards and other hazards
These and other adjustments make your home accessible and usable as you look forward to the next season in your life.
Downsizing is a challenging but important task. Use these helpful tips to reduce stress as you downsize. You may also contact the professional home modifiers at Sage Mobility. We understand the stress and challenges of downsizing and work with you to create a safe and functional home that meets your needs now and in the future. Use the contact form below or call us today at (610) 518-2221 to begin a conversation!
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Finished downsizing and de-cluttering your home? It may be time to think ahead about home modifications! Talk with us about your options!Talk With a Mobility Specialist