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How to Declutter Your Home When Downsizing

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Photo: SeventyFour (Shutterstock)

When we talk about “downsizing,” it’s usually referring to the size a person’s home. For example, people may decide to sell their larger family home after their children have grown up and moved out, because they simply no longer need that much living space anymore. Others buy or rent a home that initially seemed like the right size for them, but later realized that it’s too large.

Whatever the reason for your move, part of the downsizing process involves clearing out stuff you no longer need, and ensuring that everything has a spot in your new place; in other words, some serious decluttering. Here are some strategies that may help.

How to declutter when downsizing

There’s no need to wait until you have solid moving plans to start decluttering. In fact, the sooner you’re able to get it done (or at least begin the process), the better: That way you’ll feel less overwhelmed during the already-stressful experience of packing and moving. Here are some methods that may help:

Separate stuff into destinations

Have three large boxes (or areas) marked “keep,” “toss,” and “donate,” and sort your stuff accordingly. Do an initial sweep through your home, grabbing the things that you know you want to donate or throw out, and don’t wait to move them out. This will give you more space while working on everything else.

Sort through items by category

Pull out all items you have in a particular category—like glassware, towels, or crockery—even if they’re in different locations in your home (i.e. the kitchen, closets, the basement, the attic, etc). This will give you an idea of what you have, and what you need to keep. Perhaps you have nine cookie sheets, but only realized you had the four you use on a regular basis. If you don’t need the remaining five, they can be donated.

Pull out your papers

It’s easy to let paperwork accumulate over the years, but chances are, you’re holding onto some that you no longer need: A warranty to an appliance you no longer own, paper copies of utility bills that are now all available online, paper plane tickets and travel itineraries for trips you took a long time ago. You don’t need to create an entirely new file system before you move, but at least go through your papers, pull any you no longer need, and shred them.

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