Downsizing; What Will I Do With My Stuff


Many Seniors have a lifetime worth of possessions in their homes. Deciding what to do about these is a major concern when downsizing to a smaller residence. In fact, it may feel so overwhelming that a move which could improve quality of life is delayed.

When we work with you, Rearrangements Relocation and Transition Services will help you with downsizing. We will coach you through the decisions and help you deal with the items you no longer need. Even if you are not planning to move for quite some time, doing some downsizing of your ‘stuff’ may take a weight of your mind. If you worry about saddling your family with an unpleasant task, you might want to start downsizing your items now. It is also easier to maintain a home with fewer items. And, if you ever need a walker you will appreciate some extra open space to get around.

Ready to start working with us?

Check out Services and Rates OR Contact us. If you aren’t ready to hire helpers, we have provided some tips to help you downsize on your own.

Tips for Downsizing

Set a Goal

The starting point of downsizing is to set a goal. How will you know you are done? For example, you could decide to downsize a collection to only as many as will fit onto one shelf unit, and have it done before you get the room painted. Or, you could decide to deal with all the extra items stored in your guest room so you can have guests stay over this summer. These downsizing goals are fairly ambitious but still achievable. They are specific and they have an approximate time frame for completion.

Research Resources

Do some research as to what you can do with unneeded items. Consider who might appreciated getting them as gifts. Determine if the items have enough value to be worthwhile selling them. Find out if charities will accept them as donations. For example, musty smelling books and old National Geographic Magazines are not accepted. Rearrangements Relocation and Transition Services can help you with this information. We can also recommend people who can appraise and sell your more valuable items for a commission fee.

Assemble Supplies

The next step is to assemble any supplies you will need. If you will be packing up some items you will need suitable boxes, paper, tape, markers and some labels.

Schedule Short Sessions

Now it’s time to start sorting. Break your job into blocks of time. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Also break the task into smaller areas. Start in the less used rooms. Make decisions about big items first to give yourself an instant sense of accomplishment. If there are some items that will bring up strong emotions, tackle this part of downsizing when you are feeling strong.

Decide What to Keep

The first decision is whether to keep the item. Try to limit keepers to items which are frequently used or bring you great joy. One organizer recommends holding each item in turn and considering how it makes you feel. My recommendation is to first try to make a decision without touching the item. As soon as you pick it up you are more likely to keep it. But if it’s still a maybe, perhaps picking it up and feeling the associated emotions will get you to the final decision.

Don’t be paralyzed by a fear of making the mistake of getting rid of something you should have kept. There will be mistakes. What you must consider is the risk. Can the piece be easily replaced if it turns out to be a mistake?

Remember the item itself is not the memory. Maybe a photograph of the item would be just as precious. Instead of having a bulky item stored away, you could take a picture of the item and display it so as to bring you happy memories every time you glance at it.

Decide What To Do With Unwanted Items

Once you have decided that you don’t need to keep an item, decide what you want to do with it. Do you want to give it as a gift and to whom? Do you want to donate it and where? Do you want to sell it and how? You can either separate the items physically into piles according to their destination. Or you can use colour coded labels for each destination.

Get Help

Perhaps having a friend or family member with you work on downsizing might help you keep on track. We find when working with our clients on sorting belongings, when they reminisce and tell us about the item, it sometimes helps them decide to let it go. Don’t pick a partner who can’t appreciate the sentimental value for you or one who is impatient with the time it may take for you to let some items go. The process is naturally stressful at first, but as you get into it, your anxiety should decrease. If the process is getting more painful, maybe you have picked the wrong sorting partner.

Time’s Up, Clean Up

When you have had enough don’t push it. A couple of hours is often plenty. Clean up, take out the trash, pat yourself on the back and continue again another day. Also, sending items on to their destinations on a regular basis helps you stick to your decisions and starts to free up space sooner.

How We Work With You

When we work with you, it will be in short sessions. At the start of a session we will discuss what we want to accomplish with you. At the end of the session, we may leave you with a few items you can do for homework before we meet again. We may also talk about what we would like to do in our next session together. We like to alternate between hard to decide and easier areas.

If you are sorting before a move, and time is short, we have some shortcuts to help you get finished in time. For example, paperwork and pictures are very time consuming to sort. We may decide that we have to move them to the new home and allow you to sort them out at your leisure after the move.

Pulling everything out to sort can make your home very messy and downright dangerous. When we work with you we try to break the work into projects within each room. We aim to finish one project and clean up before going to the next. During the process we are very conscious about avoiding hazards such as tripping or allergic reactions. If you are doing a sort for yourself, try to break it up this way. Do one thing at a time and the process won’t be so disruptive, stressful and dangerous.

Sorry, We Don’t Work With Hoarders

Unfortunately, Rearrangements Relocation and Transition Services does not work with hoarders at this time. The issues are all magnified when a person suffers from hoarding. The problem is often compounded by health and safety issues in the home. A lasting solution requires professional treatment of the disease, as well as special techniques for working with the client throughout the clean up. We do not currently have adequate resources and training to serve hoarders properly.

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