Carve out small amounts of time dedicated to eliminating clutter or letting go of time-honored heirlooms. Set a timer for 15-minute increments three times a day so you reserve energy for doing things you truly enjoy. Downsizing is a long process, but if it’s broken down into a list of much simpler tasks, it can be done successfully over time.
If you’re considering moving into an independent living community or a smaller-sized home in the next few months or so, try consolidating items so you have less to move. Examples:
- OId photos – Instead of keeping hundreds or even thousands of old family photos that perhaps others won’t appreciate years from now, select only the top 50 or 100 and place them into an album or special box that you can access from time to time. It may be difficult to physically let go of all of those vacation photos from 1969, but the memories in your mind may be sharper, anyways! Select only one or two from that vacation, and the same amount of photos from various other occasions that represent entire experiences you can recall.
- Musical collections – While old vinyl records can be sold for a pretty penny these days, it takes time to find the right buyer. Also, you need to be very careful meeting strangers to make sales, even if they occur in broad daylight. Every song and album imaginable are available online today and can be easily downloaded and stored on smart devices like your cell phone. So, consider letting go of all of those old CDs, record albums and tapes. Those same songs exist for you to enjoy almost anytime, anywhere.
- Movies – The same goes for those VHS tapes and DVDs collecting dust! Most movies, regardless of their age or genre, are available for streaming on your iPad, your smart phone or laptop, and through services like Hulu. Additionally, local libraries offer free downloading of many types of entertainment, including older TV series and classic movies. This may make it easier for you to donate years of years of family entertainment tapes to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or another agency that will find them a new home.
- Door wreaths – If you have a basement or garage collection of four or 12 wreaths because you love celebrating the seasons and perhaps even each special holiday (Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.), consider keeping only one or two wreaths that are relatively simple and customizable – such as a grape ivy wreath with some ivy. Then, as you want to freshen up your front door each season, you can simply add a few silk flowers or other minimal additions to make your entrance look inviting. Donate all of the other wreaths and seasonal home decorations to a local charity for others to enjoy.
- Collections – Whether it’s a tin full of buttons, a closet full of vintage purses, antique tea cups, 22 pairs of old sneakers, beer cans from around the world, a bookcase filled with old board games or something else, items that gave you great joy collecting over the years may now weigh heavily on you. Consider releasing them to a local consignment shop or donate them to a charitable organization. If it’s too difficult for you to let them all go at once, perhaps choose one or two that have special meaning … then let go of the rest.
It’s rare that someone actually enjoys letting go of items that once brought much happiness. But, these things are simply “stuff” that can emotionally tie us down and even prevent us from creating a new, simpler, less cluttered future. Letting go is good, and once you start the process it often gets easier from one week to the next.