Monday, 18 July 2016
Making the decision to downsize isn't easy, nor should it be. When you've lived somewhere for a long time or grown accustomed to a certain way of life, it can be difficult to let go. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't let go, though. One of the hardest parts of aging, as I see it, is coming to terms with the fact that you can't always do the things that you used to be able to do. Admitting to yourself that it might be time to do things differently, deciding that it's time to downsize, isn't easy. If you're here, reading this article, you've already made that difficult decision, so now it's my job to make sure that the actual process of downsizing itself isn't nearly as difficult as that decision was- here are my top 5 tips.
1. Start with a list of essentials and sentimental items. You should have a firm idea of just what's going to stay and what's going to go well before you clean your first room or pack your first box. Leaving something behind is much tougher when that thing is staring you in the face than when you're sitting in the kitchen and making an impartial, objective list, so make one, and stick to it. Figure out what you're going to need and justify why you're going to need it (or if it's sentimental, why you can't leave it) and don't deviate from your list, hard as it may be.
2. Give. It's a lot easier to justify keeping something when the alternative is turning it into a couple of bucks or shipping it off to sit atop a junk-heap, so work a local charity or thrift shop into your downsizing plans. A prized sweater that's been in your collection for years could keep a homeless person warm, a personal collection of DVD's sold affordably could be the only entertainment a low-income household has access to, so don't hoard, don't hang on, give.
3. Get some help. Call a daughter, grandson, neighbour, or friend. Not only does and an extra set of hands make the work go by quicker and feel easier, but bringing someone else in to help with your move will help you be more effective when it comes to deciding what ought to stay and what ought to go. A helper will be sympathetic to your feelings, but they'll also be ruthless where you can't be, reminding you what you will and won't use and questioning which things are important. This is a job you don't have to do alone, so don't.
4. Remember: how much space do you have? It can be easy to pick arbitrarily and choose what's going to stay and what isn't based on what you want to keep or even what you think you need to keep, but you shouldn't make those decisions without keeping firmly in mind what you can manage to keep. Once you've picked out a new place, keep the floor plan for constant reference. Assess storage space and contextualize by actually comparing rooms in the new house with rooms in the old house rather than working off of dimensions alone. It doesn't matter how much you want to keep if what you can afford to keep doesn't match up.
5. Delete duplicates. Years of accumulating things with only intermittent, informal decluttering leads to excess; you have a few too many of a few things. Maybe it's several sets of wine glasses, maybe it's a half-dozen different bedroom sets, maybe it's more towels than you can count, but you have some things, probably more than some, that you don't need, and you don't have to be ashamed about it. When you're downsizing, though, it can't continue. You need all the space you can manage for the things that matter, so don't waste it on duplicates you don't need.
Downsizing doesn't have to be difficult. Use these tips as a starting point; be sentimental but intellectual, thoughtful but ruthless, considerate but efficient, and you'll be in good shape.