downsizing-lrgDownsizing your Possessions –
Tips to keep you on track …
Chances are that at some time in your life you will need to downsize.  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 off such a move 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, in fact we only have two main choices –

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

It’s the DOING that is the hard part and, if there are lots of rooms full of stuff, then there will be lots to do.  If you can’t handle it all, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends, or call in a professional.  Where to start?
1  Keep it Simple

  • Confusion and avoidance can lead to inaction when dealing with a home full of possessions, so keep it simple by setting out your goals (in writing) – the why, the benefits, the importance of downsizing. Revisit your Keep it Simple Statement (KISS) whenever you get off-track.
  • Remember that having lots of possessions takes time to organize, keep clean and pack. If you have had trouble maintaining an organized home, then now is the time to create new habits, change the way you view or depend on stuff and not take your clutter with you.

2  Identify What you are Taking

  • Know exactly what space and rooms you will have in your new home – measure up, know what fits, draw up a plan
  • Define the function for each space and allocate furniture accordingly (measure again)
  • Define your “must have” items, including treasures
  • Don’t get bogged down with holding on to stuff from previous phases in your life, e.g. only take clothes that fit, are comfortable, you like to wear and will wear
  • Don’t be afraid to split sets of items, e.g. you may not need the whole dinner set, but it is yours, so you can take a few pieces
  • Create keepsakes, memory books or similar. Grandchildren may love to assist with these special tasks.

 3 What to do with what is left – give, sell, donate or toss …

  • Give to family/friends: Give them items you know they will love, gift items on special occasions, pass on photographs and memorabilia (with their stories) but don’t be offended if family or friends do not want items – they may be dealing with their own clutter.
  • Sell what you can: The demand for second hand items is not as high as it once was (a generation downsizing as the younger generation prefer Ikea type items).   Get past the need to sell everything – yes, it cost you money, but you didn’t buy household items as investments – they were to support you in that lifestyle.
  • Embrace giving: There are so many ways to give – local church, favourite charity, Op Shop, may be a women’s shelter in your area or give away free on line. 

4   Tips 1-3 above sound great, but you still can’t seem to let stuff go?

  • Start with an honest self-assessment of your relationship to stuff?
  • Assess what you can physically manage – you may need to work in short time periods (as we get tired, it can be tougher to make decisions)
  • Put YOU first, not the STUFF. The focus should be on you, your health, safety and happiness
  • Call in help if needed

 5    Be Kind to Yourself

  • We all organize differently and some find it easier than others
  • If you are supporting a loved one who is faced with moving on to aged care or retirement, you will need to be non-judgmental and patient, take it slowly, assess how capable they are of all the decisions involved
  • There are other factors that can affect one’s ability to sort and made decisions – recent loss of a loved one, mental health disorders (hoarding, anxiety), depression or dementia. Current statistics show that for those of us who make it to our 80’s, 1 in 4 of us will have dementia.  In such situations, it takes extra care and patience to farewell a home and possessions as your loved one may no longer be capable of making decisions
  • Understand the importance of taking time to farewell life stages
  • Don’t be scared to ask for help from others and seek professional assistance

Mary J Harnan BBus
Owner – founder – allsorter – 3A organiser

Expert member of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers,
Specialist Certificate in Chronic Disorganisation from the Institute of Challenging Disorganization in the USA. 
I regularly speaks to groups about smart downsizing, rightsizing and farewelling the family home.”