When you’re thinking about downsizing, it may seem overwhelming. How do you sort through potentially a lifetime’s worth of things and actually get it done? Here are a few tips from those who’ve been through it:

  1. Start Early and Take Your Time – You didn’t buy everything in a day, so don’t expect to sort and clean it in one either. Don’t delay, start taking action right now.
  2. Make a List – Imagine that your home was destroyed. What would you really have to replace? What sentimental items do you really want to keep? What would you not miss? Start a list of “Must Have,” “Could Have,” and “Could Lose” to prepare.
  3. Evaluate Needs – If you have 30 wine glasses, how many times a year do you have to serve 30 people wine at once? If you have six sets of queen sheets, how many queen beds do you have? Make sure you keep only what you truly need for this chapter of your life.
  4. Donate. Recycle – Keep a box or set aside an area for items to sell, items to donate and items to recycle. Think of how you could use the money you will make selling things. Investigate services in your area that can help you sell your things and places that need charitable donations. Organizations such as the Salvation Army will even come right to your door.
  5. Don’t Warehouse your Kids’ Stuff – If your kids are out of the house, they’re old enough to take their stuff with them or find a place elsewhere to store it.
  6. Keep Cleaning Sessions Short – Cleaning can be mentally exhausting, so limit your sessions to a few hours at a time, but do them regularly.
  7. Use a Treasure Box – Can’t stand to get rid of something, but don’t really have a place for it either? Select a plastic crate and designate it as your treasure box for sentimental items. Once it’s full, if you want to add to it, something else has to go.
  8. Consider Keeping a Record – As you go through your things, are there some with stories? Did great great Uncle Franklin bring this table down the Mississippi? Was this a gift from someone special? Sometimes taking the time to write it down will help you determine if it’s something you really want to keep and then preserve the story for others to share.