The organizational benefits of downsizing can be very rewarding. You can save time, restore order, relieve stress, free up space, and perhaps most importantly, save money.
It's important when you are organizing and downsizing to try to keep your emotions out of the process. The process may seem overwhelming, but you can do it, and here are some tips that will help you accomplish the task:
1) Try not to focus on the entire house at once. Break things down room by room. Take on one project at a time and don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed. If the room itself seems to be too much to take on, just focus on one area at a time, like a closet. Accomplish something before moving on to another area. Small steps yield big rewards. Set realistic goals about the amount of time you need, and create a timeline that works for you.
2) Evaluate what you have. Everyone has extra stuff. Ask yourself: Do I use this? Need it? Love it? Is it in good condition? If you haven't used or thought about something in over a year, it's probably safe to get rid of it. Sell valuable items that you no longer need. Ebay and Craigslist are both great online tools that will help you cash in on things that you don't need anymore. Or donate. There's no shortage of organizations that take in the things you don't use and distribute them to people in need. What a great feeling!
3) Properly store irreplaceable items. Meaningful items such as old photos, yearbooks, wedding dresses, and christening gowns should be properly stored in sealed containers in order to protect them from the elements. You may even want to go one step further with old photos and convert them to a digital format to ensure that they will always be safe. If your children have grown and moved out, as hard as it may be, remind yourself that you are not responsible for providing storage for your adult children.
4) Stay positive. Getting rid of items that remind you of your past can be an emotional process. At first it might seem difficult to part with those masterpieces that your children created when they were small, but there's no reason to keep every scrap of paper your child has ever brought home. Instead, concentrate on what's important you, and visualize what your home will look like when you have de-cluttered and re-imagined your space. I have found that after de-cluttering, most people wish they had done it sooner.
5) Hire a REALTOR® who specializes in working with downsizers. This type of move is a specialty and requires a unique set of skills and a great deal of planning and patience. You will need someone who works well with you. You might find yourself needing the services of others, such as stagers, de-clutterers, and junk removers, as well as a storage plan for the things you can't bear to part with or want to keep safe. With the right connections, you'll be able to find someone who is not only familiar with your situation, but who has existing relationships and can assure that the process moves smoothly from beginning to end.
By Peggy Patenaude
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