Starting with a downsizing plan will alleviate most, if not all, of the stress and worry that form when contemplating how to sort through one’s possessions. Once you have planned out your own downsizing process and roadmap, you can jump into the work of sorting and organizing. Follow the steps below in order work through your home, and do not move onto the next section until you’ve completed all the steps in the previous section.
Start with only your own clothing items, and focus on these categories of clothing: tops, bottoms, socks, underwear, swimwear, uniform, coats, accessories and shoes. Put the items to be kept back into your closet and drawers. Throw away the items from the “Toss” pile. Put the items to be donated into the trunk of your car and drop off at your local donation center. If you have anything to take to consignment, stop there first. If they do not want it, add to the donation bag.
Sort items into the following piles: Keep, Donate, Toss. If an item is in terrible shape, for instance, missing pages, moldy, or ripped, no one else is going to read it and it should be tossed (unless it’s especially meaningful like your grandmother’s bible or a deceased loved one’s favorite novel). Also, remember that most things are online these days. For instance, instruction manuals on how to perform plumbing tasks are no longer useful to the general population. Put back any books that you have decided to keep. Toss or recycle whatever you are getting rid of. Box up the books to donate and put them in the trunk of your car.
This category includes bills, receipts, bank slips, pay slips, used checkbooks, and insurance papers. When in doubt, consult with a lawyer, accountant or tax planner about specific documents. Recycle everything that can be recycled. Shred sensitive documents. If you have a lot of these, it may be worth it to take to a shredding service. Separate everything remaining into three categories: Keep Indefinitely, Keep Short Term, and Needs Attention. Be rigorous about maintaining this filing system so that papers don’t begin to pile up again!
This is quite a large category comprised of all of the other little things that make up our homes, such as electronics, holiday décor, outdoor gear and cleaning supplies. Toss anything that is in bad shape or expired. Place the boxes and bags to be donated into your car and make a trip to the goodwill. Small electronics, CDs, and computers can be e-recycled at Best Buy. Dry goods can be donated to a local food bank.
If you have a large collection, chances are you will not be taking all of it with you to a smaller home. It’s much smarter to pick your favorite few and then figure out what to do with the rest. There are a few ways to deal with the pieces that you are not keeping.
It’s okay to let things go that no longer serve us in the current season of our lives, don’t be afraid to get rid of them. Go through your journals and if you still find them helpful, keep them. Otherwise, recycle them after perusal. Photos are best organized in archival photo books. A good way to loosely organize them is in life phases: Childhood, College/Early Adulthood, Marriage, Kids, and so on. There are also services available online like Snapfish or Shutterly that can help you scan your photos and create keepsake books.
A very handy way to tackle this category is three different colors of post it notes. Use one color to mean keep, another for unsure, and the last for give away. Move through the rooms in your house and place a post-it on anything too large to fit into a box.
Contact any family members regarding specific pieces of furniture. Call a service to pick up all of the furniture you are getting rid of. If you live in Northeast Ohio and are considering Judson Senior Living as a retirement location, we have experts on hand to help you with moving and relocation services! Contact (216) 208-6997 to learn more.
Once these seven categories are completed, you will feel freer from these burdens and much more relaxed! This process can be laboring at times and emotional at others. Make sure to let yourself experience any emotions that come during this work. But, go easy on yourself and take the time to do this right. Once completed, you will never have to do it again!