If your beautiful abode is bursting at the seams with items accumulated over the years, it may be time to decide what to do with it all. For families with children, everyone's possessions can add up. For empty nesters and older adults preparing to downsize or age in place, some of the items you own can become a burden for what's next in your life.
Where do you even start to streamline your possessions? How do you avoid the heartache of accidentally parting with some of your memories? Most people react to clutter with quick fixes like moving the items to storage or discarding everything in haste. Both of which can be costly. If you look at the five tips below, you may find the streamlining experience less costly and more manageable.
Know how to save.
Storage facilities can often be costly excuses to delay clearing clutter or going through the emotional process of clearing a loved one's keepsakes. Before moving items into storage to stow away priceless or not so priceless items, start the process of sorting and organizing. Consider calling professionals to help you clear the items and cut the cost of years of storage.
Know what to keep.
First things first: know what matters to you. It's good practice to keep family heirlooms (or, if the given heirlooms were never your taste, give them away to a fellow family). Also keep your hands on any and all important papers, including licenses, records, titles, diplomas, and other related matter. If you lose those, you'll always soon end up needing them for one situation or another.
Know what to throw out.
The rule of thumb here is simple: If you couldn't imagine looking a person in the eye as you gave the item to them—even for free—then it should be trashed. It's probably too dirty, too worn, or otherwise too useless to benefit anybody.
Know what to alter.
This matters for both things you want to keep and things you don't. If you get rid of electronics, make sure to wipe them clean of all your personal information. People who buy your used electronics could otherwise easily figure your identity and potentially use it for their own benefit. And if you're looking to keep family photos, consider taking the time to finally digitize them. That way, you can keep everything that matters to you without the clutter.
Know what to sell and what to donate.
This can be a tricky one to decide. When is your great-grandmother's desk a priceless antique or just a favored, worn piece of furniture? If you don't have a great knowledge for antique and vintage items, you'll want to consider letting Caring Transitions take a look. Our trained team of professionals can identify what could bring you money and what just has sentimental value.
Ask yourself crisis questions.
A big part of deciding what to do with it all is understanding how critical moments can impact your needs and put life into perspective. While some of these situations can be difficult to think about, they can help you understand the importance of particular possessions. Ask yourself or a loved one the following questions:
- If your home were to catch on fire, which possessions would you want to save once you knew your family was safe?
- If your home was robbed, which items would you put the effort into getting replaced or being tracking down?
- In the event of a national crisis, which essentials does your family need for survival?
Don't be afraid to put yourself in the mindset of some difficult scenarios and see how you feel you'd react. This will help you pinpoint what matters most to you.
Push yourself to get started
The process of streamlining and deciding the best options for cataloging and understanding what to do with items you own or inherited can be overwhelming and in many cases emotional. Often the hardest part of the process is making the decision to clear the space and remove the burden of extra unwanted items.