You have too much stuff. Time to cleanse your home (and spirit) of all that stuff. Problem is, what do you do with it all? Here are some ideas, and how to know what you should get rid of and what you should keep.
Sort It Out
The first thing you need to do is sort out all of your things. Make sure that you really can’t live without something that you intend to get rid of. The way you do this is to make two piles. The first pile, your “A” pile, is full of things that you cannot live without. Your “B” pile is full of things that are negotiable or even things you know you don’t want.
It may take some time to actually make these two piles, and maybe you don’t make two physical piles but rather two lists on a spreadsheet. Have a disinterested third-party, like a family member or friend who isn’t afraid to make tough choices, come in and help you sort through things.
If you’re having trouble getting started, choose the top 10 things you want to keep. Treat everything else as “negotiable,” and try to “sell” your friend on why you should keep them. Meanwhile, your friend will try to come up with every reason possible why you should get rid of these things. What will eventually happen is that you will either make a good argument to keep these things or you will give up and let them go.
Make sure you’re not getting rid of things that you truly value or that are real family heirlooms that you’d really miss.
Assessing Your True Needs
It’s common for people downsizing to have accumulated a lot of things. For example, maybe you had a big family and, at one time, you needed a large dining room table. But, you don’t need it anymore. It’s served its purpose. Who can you give it to? Maybe a family member needs it, or maybe you can sell it or give it away to your local Goodwill or some other charity organization.
You can also set space limits, like limiting yourself to a number of books that will fit on the bookshelf. The key idea is to define a space and then limit yourself to it. If you want to see how others are doing this, how they’re downsizing, and what types of homes they’re buying into, check out this interesting read at RABennett.co.uk.
A Word About Sentimentality
This is what makes it hard for most people to get rid of their possessions. There’s a strong sense of sentimentality that goes along with “stuff.” Sometimes, it takes work to take a picture of a thing and then let the original go. Keeping antique furniture that doesn’t fit your decor is another thing people often struggle with. If no other family member is interested, then you can keep a picture of it and donate it to a museum, or a collector (if it’s truly antique).
What About Your Children’s Artwork?
This is something almost no parent wants to part with. Be selective about what you keep. Every single piece that your child made for you is precious, and they’re adults now, but they’ll always be your children, right? At the same time, you’re out of room.
That doesn’t mean you can’t keep anything. It means you need to be selective. Keep personal things, and get rid of less personal things. Or, put everything in a box and ask to store it in your children’s homes.
Use Good Storage Bins
Anything that goes in the basement needs to be protected. Usually, the best option is something with a foam seal and locking mechanisms that will keep bugs, moisture, and water out of the bin. You could also use cling wrap to help seal out moisture as long as the lid on the bin has a tight seal.
The best storage bins will be marked “weatherproof,” like the bins from Ziplock and other similar manufacturers.
You need to be merciless in what you cut out of your life. If you’re not, you’ll end up saving everything, and this will turn into a huge problem. Most people don’t like parting with their belongings, and that’s understandable. At the same time, it’s time to come to grips with the reality that you simply can’t take it with you.
At the end of the day, no one can take your memories away from you. So, whether you need to take pictures of important things, or whether you just want to keep them in your memory, the things around you have already given you what they were supposed to a good life and good memories.
Alfredo Morgan works for a house clearance company, and is often shocked at the track people become attached to! Recently downsizing from a 4 bedroom family house into a 2 bedroom bungalow, Alf and his wife had to go through their own downsizing process – Here he shares some tips.
You may also find help in 5 Tips for Dealing with clutter in your home.