If you’re moving from a large space to a smaller space, you can’t take everything with you. So you have to decide what things you want to keep and what you want to give away, throw away, or sell. If you’re like most older adults who’ve accumulated more stuff over the years than they need, want, or use, facing the sorting process can be daunting. That’s why it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to sort through your possessions, declutter your living space, and “rightsize” your life. Once you get going, you may well find it liberating.
What is rightsizing?
Rightsizing is the process of downsizing the space you live in and — for adults moving to a senior living community — outsourcing the chores and responsibilities that go with homeownership. In exchange, you can upsize the things you’d rather focus your time and energy on — social activities, physical fitness, volunteering, lifelong learning, and more.
10 tips to help you downsize to rightsize.
When it comes to downsizing, if you try to sort out everything at once, it can be overwhelming. But if you approach the downsizing process methodically, you’ll gain confidence and energy as each step takes you closer to the finish line.
To get off on the right foot, here are 10 downsizing tips to help you pare down your belongings so you take only what you can’t live without — leaving space for the things you love and use.
- Make a plan — If you have a moving date in mind, you can plan workdays to get the job done without exhausting yourself. Define goals for each workday on your calendar, and write down who’ll need to be involved to accomplish those goals. Involve friends and relatives early so they can be ready to help when those days arrive.
- Start early — Give yourself time to approach the process methodically. Start months ahead of moving day, and sort one room at a time. The key to downsizing is not finishing the process; it’s starting it.
- Keep sorting sessions short — About two hours is ideal. Begin with the simplest room first. If you start with the most complicated area, you may get discouraged and quit. Tackling a simple room helps build your confidence.
- Use the new space as a guide — When deciding what to take with you, it’s essential to know the measurements of your new living space. Taped off floor space in your current home can help you visualize where each item will fit in your new home. If you know your old furniture won’t fit in your new home, it’s time to let it go and start thinking about new pieces to enjoy in your new environment.
- Focus on the most-used items — Don’t go by the newest and the best; go by what you regularly use. If you’re not sure, set the items aside, preferably out of sight, and see how you get along without them. You might be surprised how little you notice they’re gone.
- Identify why it’s important to you — Be able to articulate each item’s purpose. Is it necessary? Is there sentimental value to the item? Is it of significant financial value? Would a family member or friend appreciate it or use it? Most of all, will you use it in your new home?
- Sort items into five categories — Start with boxes or containers to separate items into five piles: those to keep, gift, donate, sell, or throw away. Toss anything that’s chipped, broken, or stained. Check with local donation centers to see which items they’ll accept; many donation centers offer free pickup, which can be a real time-saver.
- Digitize photos and important documents — Consider hiring a company to digitize photos, memorabilia, and collections you won’t have space for in your new home. Important documents can be digitized at a reasonable price. You can also have copies made to give to family members.
- Think twice before selling items on your own — Craigslist, eBay, and other options are time-consuming when you’re trying to downsize a houseful of stuff. If you’re selling something of high value, consider getting it appraised by an auction house.
- Feeling overwhelmed? Call in the professionals — If you’re struggling, find yourself short on time, or simply prefer to have a professional help you decide what to do with your possessions, senior move managers are available to help. Services range from downsizing and space planning to packing and unpacking.
Make the most of your new space.
The best way to maximize a small space is to use household accessories and furniture that are vertical and multifunctional. Here are some ideas.
- Invest in tall bookcases and wall-mounted shelves for beautiful storage spaces that won’t take up much space.
- Showcase memories in shadow boxes to display on the wall.
- Hang quilts.
- Use the backs of doors and cupboards for bonus storage space with hooks and over-the-door organizers.
- Shop for multifunctional furniture, such as a height-adjustable dining/coffee table or a captain’s bed with built-in storage underneath.
- Downsize other furniture and household items to make room for a large item you love.
Find a living space that’s just right for you.
Whether you’re rightsizing to an apartment home or a stand-alone cottage, you’ll find floor plans that fit your needs perfectly at Holly Hall. Each residence can be customized with a choice of finishes, paints, and floorings. And of course, you can leave the chores to us. Weekly housekeeping and all maintenance inside and out are just part of the package — giving you more time to do the things that bring you joy and fulfillment.