At a certain point in life, some decide to downsize to a smaller home to simplify life. But a quick look around the house, the place that holds so many memories, it is apparent that not everything will fit into new quarters. How to scale down?.
First off, give yourself time. Obviously, the sooner you start, the better, but don’t expect to do it all in a day, or even a week. Tackle one area at a time. If the attic is the place where items have been stashed that don’t fit with your current life, it’s a good bet that you won’t have room for them in the new home.
As the owner of Green Clean Team, a company that specializes in cleaning with natural products, Michelle Smith has considerable experience with this dilemma. Her advice, “get a friend to come and help.” This isn’t just more hands getting the job done more quickly or having an ‘expert’ make decisions, but rather, it is about the support, motivation and perspective supplied by a friend who can help you prioritize.
Throw it out
The items that you can’t give away are the easiest– buy some sturdy trash bags or contact a pick up service like The Bagster, a service that sells large bags at home improvement stores, which you fill, place outside, and call for pickup when you’re ready. As one bag holds more than 3000 pounds of material, this is a good compromise between regular trash pickup and a roll-off dumpster.
Things to give away, donate, or sell; if they didn’t provoke a strong enough response to immediately go into the “Keepers” category, then you can, and should, let them go.
This is a potentially easy area for decisions, as long as you know the amount of space you’re moving into. If you’re going from a house with three bedrooms to a condo with only two bedrooms, what will fit is easy to determine. More difficult can be if you’re going from a 2400 square foot house to a 1200 square foot house, both with three bedrooms. If your new living room isn’t big enough for your sectional sofa, it has to go. Similarly, if a king sized bed doesn’t leave room for a dresser, consider the floor space you gain with a queen sized bed instead.
Some of the biggest challenges in downsizing– paper files, photos, music, movies and books– can be largely solved in one way: digitize. Keep seven years of tax records, but medical records can be scanned, which not only makes them smaller, but also more portable. Anything saved digitally should have at least one backup copy.
Photos are probably the single best items for digitization. Scanning them means that you can keep them without taking up space. There are even options for digital frames (or use the television), which make it easier to view those treasured memories.
Books, music and movies are items that can accumulate and create storage and lack of space issues. But the digital age has made this less of a concern. Now, these these items take up no physical space and there is no loss of access as you can review digital sources through the public library, Spotify and Netflix.
A challenging area for most of us, our possessions hold strong emotional attachments for us. A change in perspective allows you to photograph the items and then let go. Giving these items to people who will appreciate them as much as you do can make it easier to let go.
Protect your identity
Discarding items that contain private information creates a target for identity thieves, so strongly consider shredding all that paper before it goes into the trash. But personal shredders aren’t designed to take more than a few sheets at a time, and staples must be removed first. Many office supply stores provide a service to safely and securely dispose of large volumes of paper, even with staples still attached. Locally operated Lott Industries offers secure shredding services. Visit Lottserves.org, or contact them by phone at 419-381-5200.
Still have more stuff than will comfortably fit in your new home? Consider a storage unit, although the idea of paying to retain unused items might make you reconsider. Even if you opt to pay the rental fee, after a month or so, think again. Is it worth the expense to keep these things in a place where you aren’t likely to see or use them?
Simplifying your life by downsizing can seem like a daunting undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. With some planning, the use of technology and an adjustment in perspective, you can confidently streamline your life.