Top 10 Right-sizing tips for seniors

Retirement, Senior Real Estate

A few years after my husband unexpectedly passed away I made a choice to move from a 3200 sq ft home to a 600 sq ft home.  

I can see your face right now!  That was a BIG change.  Thankfully I had already worked through a lot of my grief, but still…it was NOT easy at all.  

I had to go through EVERYTHING.  I had acquired clothing for each season.  Decorations to go with each holiday.  Treasure troves full of memories.  I knew I didn’t really want to put them all into a storage unit only to deal with them later.  I needed to figure out what to do with them quickly.  It still took quite a bit of time, but it was the most freeing experience I have ever had.  

Here are my top 10 tips so you can do the same, even if you aren’t downsizing by 2600 sq ft.  

1. Start with the easy stuff.

Eliminate anything that’s broken, damaged, or no longer wanted. Then, go to the out-of-the-way spaces like attics, crawlspaces, and garages. Progress in these “easier” parts of your home will help you build momentum and tackle the harder-to-decide areas.

2. Ask yourself,  “If this disappeared tomorrow, would I run out and replace it?”

If you wouldn’t miss it or need to replace it, it’s probably not worth keeping.

3. Don’t be a storage unit for others.

If friends or relatives have left things for you to store, it’s time to ask them to pick up their possessions—or arrange to have them shipped. You may need to be tough and set a firm deadline, after which you will donate the items.

4. Ask for help.

Although you can do much of this work on your own, a family member, a good friend, or even a professional organizer can help make the job more manageable.  This was HUGE for me.  I was paralyzed by the amount of work I needed to complete.  I would do one tiny little area and decide that was all I could mentally and emotionally handle for the day.  

Once I called in a professional the entire project became much more manageable.  

5. Decide what’s important.

Pretend you are moving overseas, but you can only take a severely limited number of items because it costs a small fortune to ship them. What items belong on your list? These are the things that matter most to you!

6. Is this something from a lifestyle I no longer have or want?

For example, if you have three cabinets full of plastic containers, but only cook for one or two people, it’s reasonable to eliminate a few plastic sets—and dishes, pots, and pans.

7. Schedule a regular time each week—or several days a week—to work on rightsizing.

Realize that rightsizing is a life-changing marathon, not a sprint. You didn’t accumulate everything overnight, and you won’t sort it all out overnight, either.

8. Value what you keep.

The fewer things you keep, the more you will treasure and enjoy what you have, instead of tucking items away in a closet or stacked among dozens of other things. These are the select, meaningful items worth having in your personal space.

9. Prevent new collections from forming.

Instead of material gifts, ask people to spoil you by sharing time, enjoying new experiences, and helping you indulge in luxuries (spa certificates, imported chocolate, a musical or other theatre production, gift certificates for dinner out, etc.). In other words, ask for special treats that you love and want, but don’t always buy for yourself.

10. Use age to your advantage.

Now is a great time to give items to family members that you eventually want them to have. Take a photo (preferably a digital one) of your recipients holding their treasured gifts and create a scrapbook of “next generation” memories. These images can serve as powerful reminders of your most cherished items moving forward into posterity with the most special people in your life.
If you’d like some recommendations on who can help you speed up the process be sure to send me an email –  I would love to hear from you and help you rightsize any way I can!