Most people realize that at some point they'll have to downsize and simplify their living. It's one of life's major transitions that received a negative connotation somewhere along the way.
We think that's a shame.
Maybe it's because of the work involved. Maybe it's the assumption the project will come with too much stress and anxiety. But let me ask you this: When have you ever been afraid of a little work in life? And as far as stress goes, we're about to give you some great tips on making what we call "rightsizing" easier.
We know what you're thinking: Rightsizing? What a blatant use of marketing jargon. While we're confident the marketing genius who coined this term is quite proud of his or her accomplishment, we're going to tell you why we like the term: Downsizing is not a blanket process. It's going to be unique for everyone. It needs to be right for that individual or that couple. Rightsizing is the first step in moving to a smaller space. It means establishing a living space that meets TODAY'S needs, which include comfort, safety and personality.
Think of all the excitement (and liberation) that can come with this transition. It's an adventure to embark on such a project, and adventures always come with a little adrenaline rush. Remember those butterflies you felt before moving into your college dorm, your first apartment or your first home? We're willing to bet you'll get those same butterflies during rightsizing.
So, whether you're moving into a smaller home, condo, a retirement community, or prefer to live uncluttered in any size space, here are *13 tips for organizing and/or downsizing your life to make your cozier space work wonderfully for you.
1. Make sure what you keep is really something you can't live without. Is everything you own worthy of a space in your home or office? Is it useful – like a toaster, or a shredder, or a great pair of shoes? Is it something that you find beautiful or inspiring – something you love? Or is it something with great sentimental value – one of a selected number of things you keep because of the memories associated? If it's not any of these things, then perhaps it's something that you should part with – and let it go to another home.
Surround yourself with things that make your heart sing, or make your life easier. Just OK is not OK – don't keep stuff that takes up valuable space!
2. If there's something you use very infrequently, do you need to own it? Could you borrow it or rent it when you need it?
Do you need all the extra bedding for a sofa bed that is rarely used? Could you rent a baby bed or Aero bed when your grandchildren and great grandchildren visit? All the rusted folding tables and chairs in the garage could be donated. If needed in the future, you can borrow (or rent) some if you need them for the large family gatherings.
3. You can limit the amount of space you're willing to give to any type of item: Keep only the books that fit on the bookshelf, keep only the greeting cards that fit in the appropriately sized box or what you designate to keep for that kind of memorabilia.
4. Regarding the sentimental stuff: Sometimes it works to take a picture of an item, and let the original go. Keeping antique furniture that does not fit your decor, style or taste for sentimental value will always stick out like a sore thumb. If no other family member is interested, keep the picture of it and donate it to a good cause.
5. Apply the six month rule, or one year rule: Be selective in what you keep. If you haven't used it in the past six months, out it goes. This can especially apply to your closet and shoes! Check out all the under sink collections; your once used open bottles in the bathroom and laundry room cabinets.
6. Make use of all the space you have. Sometimes that means adding a shelf to a cabinet, so the space can be used better. Sometimes that means putting artwork on the inside of cabinet doors and/or using the walls, adding hooks and jewelry hangers. Find special sized wire wall storage or shelf baskets to organize or hang the most used items.
7. Pick your storage containers wisely. Square or rectangular pieces make better use of limited space than do round containers. Wicker baskets are attractive storage containers that can be slipped under things and stacked on shelves. Cubes can double as storage or extra seating. They can also be used as a coffee table.
8. Keep the clutter from ever entering your new space. Register to receive less mail at dmachoice.org or optoutprescreen.com and catalogchoice.org. Stop taking free samples of products you don't really want. Turn down freebies at fairs, conferences, hotels and parties and donate that hodgepodge of toiletries you have accumulated to a shelter where they can really use them.
If you don't have room to easily store large quantities of products, oversized boxes of food, limit how much you buy! Use smaller containers for larger food supplies purchased, they'll fit better on regular spaced kitchen cabinets. Expired food items need to be removed. 9. You may not have room to be a Costco shopper.
10. Make sure all furniture serves a multi-function. You may only have room for one table, which may have to double as a coffee table, task table, office workspace and meals table. Find a desk that can be closed up at night to disguise work if it out in the middle of your living space. Find a hall organizer to put at the front door with specific bins to collect keys, bags, coats and shoes. Sofas and chairs can also be converted to sleeper beds if you no longer have a guest room.
11. Limit your collections. You may love crystal and previously had room to display all of these wonderful gems, but it won' tbe that easy in a smaller place. So box them up and tuck them safely under the bed where you could get to them easily. You can display a handful and rotate them out every few weeks. You can still enjoy them, but this way you really see them because the display always looks fresh and interesting.
12. Be merciless with the clothes you keep. When our space is limited, we need to be very selective with clothes accumulation. We will often need to use part of the closets for stackable organizer bins. Nix the skinny clothes you are keeping for when you lose that 10 pounds! Give yourself a limit, such as 6 pants, 12 blouses, 10 dresses, X shoes, and try to stick to it. When you want to bring in something new, eliminate one item in the same category.
13. Bathrooms should have only what you use each day. In any bathroom, you should have one wicker basket to pull out for all your makeup, another one for all hair appliances and a drawer for brushes, combs and other essentials. Pull them out when using them and then store in cabinet or drawers the rest of the time. You know what you use regularly and like, so only buy what you need and discard all the old collection, and resist taking samples from hotels.
* Tips provided by A Time to Move, senior move managers located in Palm Beach and Broward, Florida.