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So you’ve finally made the decision that it’s time to downsize your living space, and now you have decades of stuff to go through.

“Where do I start? What do I save? Do my children or grandchildren want any of my stuff?”

Downsizing can feel very overwhelming. I have helped many people purge, so here are some suggestions to help you start the process.

The shredder, scanner, and recycling bins are your friends.

Purge your paperwork and shred anything older than your youngest grandchild. With today’s technology you can use your smartphone to scan what’s important to you, and then recycle the shredded paper.

Your smartphone will also help with quick decision-making.

Found something you think your children would want? Take a photo, text it to them, and ask for a thumbs up or down. Then give them a deadline to pick the items up, or you’ll find the articles a new home where they’ll be loved and cherished.

Keep a rein on the sentimentality.

Photos are the devil! Dump duplicate copies and negatives, trash anything blurry or unrecognizable. Keep one photo from every vacation, or scan and preserve it digitally.

Leave a legacy.

Keep documents that tell of your family’s history, such as when a relative became a citizen in a new country. (For example, I learned from my Nana’s 1948 immigration papers that my mother’s name is actually Mary and not Miriam.) Preserve anything with historical significance.

Be generous to others.

Your children most likely don’t want all of your stuff, and you don’t want it to go into the garbage. Too many books? Reach out to your local library, school, or community centre to see if they accept donations. Too much furniture, or it won’t fit in your new space? There are many charities that help families in need of furnishing their home. Fraying towels? Keep the best for yourself and the rest can be donated to your local animal shelter. Too many collectables? Keep your favorites and let the rest go.

Practise downsizing.

Close the doors to rooms you no longer use. This will help you to realize how much space you actually use and need. You may be surprised to learn that you only need 4 rooms: your bedroom, a bathroom, a living room, and kitchen.

If you’re thinking of downsizing, start now! Give yourself the time to start with one drawer a day, or set a timer for 15 minutes daily. This will give you time to rid yourself of items you don’t use on a regular basis.

There are also professionals and entrepreneurs who can help you in this process. Having someone who is NOT attached to your sentimental items helps in the purging process. A professional can also help you decide which of your treasures mean the most to you, and even help in safely transporting any items for which you’ve found new homes.

I can personally say that I have been purging my home for the past year and my excess kitchen items went to a local chef for her kitchen. I have also donated excess furniture to a local organization that helps teenagers when they max out of children’s aid, as well as those in need in the community.

Now is the time to simplify your surroundings and enjoy the next chapter in your life!

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