downsizing-lrgChances are that at some time in your life you will be faced with a downsizing move.  It can be an emotional and overwhelming time, particularly for anyone who is moving to aged care or retirement or has a loved one considering the move. 
Many people put it off because they can’t deal with what is in their home – years of possessions, treasures and memories. 
Although lots of possessions means lots of decisions, for most of us we only have two main choices –

  • Deciding what to take
  • Deciding what to do with what is left behind

Where to start?

  1. Keep it simple? Indecision can lead to inaction and avoidance when dealing with a home full of possessions.  Keep on track with a Keep It Simple Statement (KISS) that summarises your objectives and motivations for the move.
  2. Identify what you are taking? Knowing the exact space available and rooms in your new home will help you to make the best decisions – measure, know what fits, draw up a plan, define the function for each space and allocate furniture accordingly. Define your “must have” items and treasures.  Don’t get bogged down with holding on to stuff from previous life phases – e.g. only take clothes that fit, are comfortable and you love to wear. Create keepsakes or memory books.  Photographs can be a challenge for many – this is a great task for family to help with.
  3. What to do with what is left?  Give to family/friends, sell what you can, embrace giving to charity and then toss what remains.  Action and farewell items you are letting go of as soon as possible – acknowledge that they have served you well but can now be passed on.
  4. Still can’t let stuff go? You may need to explore your relationship to your stuff? Are you putting yourself first?  It is easy to put a monetary value on possessions but harder to value your time, space and health?   Have you fallen into the trap of being caretaker for other people’s stuff?
  5. Emotional challenges? If you have the luxury, take time to farewell items from important stages in your life and enjoy the memories. If you have inherited treasures that you have put off dealing with, then you need a big reality check – aren’t treasures supposed to bring us joy?  Leaving items in boxes for years is not treating a loved one’s belongings with grace and respect.  Now is the time to sort it all and chose the 5 Treasures from your loved one that bring you joy.
  6. Physical constraints? Assess what you can physically manage.  You may need to work in short time periods – it can be tougher to make decisions when we are tired.
  7. Helping a loved one? Understand the importance of taking time to farewell life stages. Remember this is their journey not yours.  Be non-judgmental, patient, make allowances, take it slowly and work at their pace.  Are they still capable of making decisions?  Are there other factors involved – bereavement, mental health disorders (hoarding, anxiety), depression or dementia?  Value family relationships and assess whether you can support them at this challenging time.  If needed, consider whether you need independent assistance.
  8. Get help! If you can’t handle it all, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends, or call in a professional.   We all organize differently and some find it easier than others.

Mary J Harnan BBus, Owner – founder – allsorter – 3A organiser
Based in Balwyn North, Vic, I have sorted 100’s of homes & helped 100’s of clients.  I am an expert member of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers & have achieved certificates in Chronic Disorganisation, Life Transitions & Hoarding from the Institute of Challenging Disorganization (USA).  I regularly speak about smart downsizing, rightsizing & farewelling the family home