A Fresh Spin on Decluttering: Try Downsizing

This is it. You’re moving into a new custom Florida home or soon will.

What do you do with all of your stuff?Declutter

Odds are it’s not only yours. If it’s your family moving, multiply “stuff” by the number of family members and you might have closets, drawers, containers and garages crammed with unnecessary, outdated or duplicate items.

We assume you don’t want to lug everything into a brand-new house. We also assume you’ve heard the phrase “declutter,” which means to clean out and sort through whatever’s clogging your space. It’s a popular buzzword for jettisoning extraneous possessions, so we’re going to spin it a bit.

Let’s downsize instead. Downsizing doesn’t imply clutter. It merely implies reducing it.

Works for us!

Here are some tips on how to downsize before moving into your new home.

Start with these three actions

Regardless of whether you call your moving-preparation project “downsizing” or “decluttering,” there are three decisions you can make for every item you own: toss, donate, or keep.

Using those terms as guidelines means eliminating indecision. No more, “Maybe,” or “I don’t know.” Making a choice is an action that keeps you moving and making progress, such as inventorying the china cabinet you inherited.

First, tackle the stuff you know must go

We all have things piled in kitchen drawers or on garage shelves that we know aren’t useable or needed, but life gets busy and we forget them.

recylceFor example, the kids are in middle school. The plastic splash pool they enjoyed as toddlers is still in the basement. How about the jeans you wore in college? Books you’ll never read?

If it helps, sit down with your family and brainstorm all the items you can load up on a Saturday and haul to the recycling complex, the landfill (if appropriate) or a local charity.

Don’t waste time fixing something broken unless it’s a priceless antique. Get rid of it. But avoid piling ALL your discards in the garbage bin. It’s better for the environment and those in need to donate, recycle or re-gift as first options.

Second, list the items you’ll keep

It’s a head start on packing. You’ll have a good estimate on how much you’ll need to do.

Two choices here: go room by room — all bathroom items, for example — or ask each family member to list their valuables, necessities and true keepsakes.

Yes, you might need to monitor younger kids’ lists. Absolutely every toy probably shouldn’t accompany them to their new home.

Third, avoid nostalgia

There’s nothing wrong with wonderful mementoes and the emotions attached to them.

However, too much nostalgia = overwhelm, especially when you have crates full of, “Oh I remember when I got that…”

You probably don’t need that yellowed corsage from your high school prom, unless you married that person. Even then…

Fourth, avoid second-guessing

Conquer the paper monster and its first cousin, Just-In-Case.

Consult with your attorney, financial advisor or accountant. Follow their suggestions on which papers to keep and which ones you can safely shred. If you still have cold feet, scan papers and store them digitally rather than physically.

Increasingly, many important personal and business documents are available in a secure manner online. Take advantage of it.

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