Downsizing Tips

You may downsize to simplify, save money, or because you are moving to some form of senior or assisted living. But the issues are the same — how do you decide what to take with you, where you’ll put it all, and what do you do with the items you choose not to keep?

Ask Some Questions Before You Start

Checkmark-Iconhow little can I get by with and still be comfortable at my new place?

Xmark-Iconwhich of the items I own now are really important to me?

Checkmark-Iconis it beautiful, useful, or loved? or am I just keeping it out of habit?

Xmark-Iconwill it still be useful or functional in my new home?

Checkmark-Iconcan this item or piece of furniture save space by serving two functions?

Xmark-Iconis it durable, well-made, and built to last?

Checkmark-Iconis this piece of furniture comfortable?

Xmark-Iconis it easy to care for, or does it require special attention?

Checkmark-Iconis this appropriate for my physical condition or stage of life?

Xmark-Iconwill this fit in my new space?

Choices To Be Made

Checkmark-Iconthings to keep when you move and downsize

Xmark-Iconwhere those items will go in your new home

Checkmark-Iconpossessions to give to friends and family

Xmark-Iconwho would most appreciate or should receive which items

Checkmark-Iconitems to be sold in an auction, estate sale, or garage sale

Xmark-Icondiscards to be donated to charities

Checkmark-Icontrash, broken objects, and other items to be thrown away

Xmark-Iconthings I can’t decide about now and need to think more about

Helping Family Members Downsize

Checkmark-Iconbe understanding — downsizing is a difficult process

Xmark-Icondon’t push or rush them — let them work at their own pace

Checkmark-Iconoffer as much help and guidance as is needed but don’t force it

Xmark-Iconlet the person make his or her own decisions

Checkmark-Iconyou can even put things in storage temporarily if needed

Xmark-Iconmake a couple of passes through if they can’t do it all at once

Checkmark-Iconhelp the person stay focused on completing one small area at a time

Making It Easier To Let Go

Xmark-Icontake photos of those treasured items you really want to remember

Checkmark-Iconcan look back and reminisce, without needing a storage unit to keep it all

Xmark-Icongive treasured keepsakes to family and friends

Checkmark-Iconlay out items that need to go and invite loved ones to pick what they want

Xmark-Iconknow that your treasures are going to people who love and appreciate them

Checkmark-Icondonate serviceable items to charities that help the less fortunate

Xmark-Iconeasier to let go when you know your belongings are still in use

Checkmark-Iconhave an estate sale and donate the proceeds to your favorite charity

Space-Saving Tips

Xmark-Iconchoose furniture and objects that can serve more than one function

Checkmark-Iconpick pieces that have storage space built in — drawers, cabinets, etc.

Xmark-Iconavoid holding onto items that look good but are impractical and never used

Checkmark-Iconavoid keeping excessively fragile, delicate, or rickety items

Xmark-Iconstick with fabrics and materials that are easy to care for and clean

Checkmark-Iconchoose furniture that is scaled to smaller spaces

Step-By-Step Downsizing

Xmark-Iconstart with the rooms in your house you aren’t using

Checkmark-Iconmake decisions about big pieces of furniture before tackling smaller items

Xmark-Icongive yourself plenty of time to make good decisions — don’t rush yourself

Checkmark-Icontake lots of breaks — this is hard work and you shouldn’t wear yourself out

Xmark-Iconask friends and family to help you out

Checkmark-Iconremember the goal is to simplify your life — not to rob you of your memories

Xmark-Iconhave packing supplies, boxes and bags on hand — pack as you decide

Checkmark-Iconschedule the donation truck to come over as soon as you are done

What You Want Done When You Are Gone

Xmark-Iconbe clear about how you want your possessions distributed when you die

Checkmark-Icondon’t leave decisions up to bereaved family who may not follow your wishes

Xmark-Iconif you want certain personal items given to particular people, say so

Checkmark-Iconmake up a list of “who gets what”

Xmark-Iconput a tiny piece of tape bearing the person’ s name on the item

When You Inherit

Checkmark-Iconyou may feel disloyal getting rid of inherited items, even if no space for them

Xmark-Icona person’s things remind us of them in a very strong way

Checkmark-Iconkeeping their stuff is almost a way of keeping that person alive

Xmark-Iconyour feelings for that person are not wrapped up in the physical object

Checkmark-Iconyou still have the good memories and warm feelings, even without the “thing”

Xmark-Iconallow yourself to reminisce and grieve as you clean out the person’s house

Checkmark-Iconspend some time reliving special memories as you go

Xmark-Icontell stories about the person’s life as you go through their things

Checkmark-Icondon’t be in such a rush that you miss the opportunity to really say goodbye

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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