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?
how little can I get by with and still be comfortable at my new place?
which of the items I own now are really important to me?
is it beautiful, useful, or loved? or am I just keeping it out of habit?
will it still be useful or functional in my new home?
can this item or piece of furniture save space by serving two functions?
is it durable, well-made, and built to last?
is this piece of furniture comfortable?
is it easy to care for, or does it require special attention?
is this appropriate for my physical condition or stage of life?
will this fit in my new space?
things to keep when you move and downsize
where those items will go in your new home
possessions to give to friends and family
who would most appreciate or should receive which items
items to be sold in an auction, estate sale, or garage sale
discards to be donated to charities
trash, broken objects, and other items to be thrown away
things I can’t decide about now and need to think more about
be understanding — downsizing is a difficult process
don’t push or rush them — let them work at their own pace
offer as much help and guidance as is needed but don’t force it
let the person make his or her own decisions
you can even put things in storage temporarily if needed
make a couple of passes through if they can’t do it all at once
help the person stay focused on completing one small area at a time
take photos of those treasured items you really want to remember
can look back and reminisce, without needing a storage unit to keep it all
give treasured keepsakes to family and friends
lay out items that need to go and invite loved ones to pick what they want
know that your treasures are going to people who love and appreciate them
donate serviceable items to charities that help the less fortunate
easier to let go when you know your belongings are still in use
have an estate sale and donate the proceeds to your favorite charity
choose furniture and objects that can serve more than one function
pick pieces that have storage space built in — drawers, cabinets, etc.
avoid holding onto items that look good but are impractical and never used
avoid keeping excessively fragile, delicate, or rickety items
stick with fabrics and materials that are easy to care for and clean
choose furniture that is scaled to smaller spaces
start with the rooms in your house you aren’t using
make decisions about big pieces of furniture before tackling smaller items
give yourself plenty of time to make good decisions — don’t rush yourself
take lots of breaks — this is hard work and you shouldn’t wear yourself out
ask friends and family to help you out
remember the goal is to simplify your life — not to rob you of your memories
have packing supplies, boxes and bags on hand — pack as you decide
schedule the donation truck to come over as soon as you are done
be clear about how you want your possessions distributed when you die
don’t leave decisions up to bereaved family who may not follow your wishes
if you want certain personal items given to particular people, say so
make up a list of “who gets what”
put a tiny piece of tape bearing the person’ s name on the item
you may feel disloyal getting rid of inherited items, even if no space for them
a person’s things remind us of them in a very strong way
keeping their stuff is almost a way of keeping that person alive
your feelings for that person are not wrapped up in the physical object
you still have the good memories and warm feelings, even without the “thing”
allow yourself to reminisce and grieve as you clean out the person’s house
spend some time reliving special memories as you go
tell stories about the person’s life as you go through their things
don’t be in such a rush that you miss the opportunity to really say goodbyeClick here for reuse options!
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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 RamonaCreel.com.
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