The prospect of a new year can be an inspirational time for many seniors. It feels like a good time to simplify, organize, and renew in all aspects of life. For seniors, this often means downsizing or decluttering. Once you’re an “empty nester” or retiree, you might find yourself wanting to clear out some of the “junk” holding you back, or perhaps even move into a smaller home or a senior living apartment. But decluttering and downsizing can be overwhelming tasks, especially if you’ve spent decades in your current home collecting things. Here are some quick tips for seniors to downsize and simplify your life.
The Importance of Downsizing and Simplifying
Decluttering, simplifying, downsizing, and organizing aren’t just fun New-Year’s-Resolution buzzwords. This process is an important part of living your best life. Moving into a smaller home or senior living apartment might free up funds you can use to travel the world, pursue new hobbies, or visit family members. Even if you’re staying put, decluttering and organizing your space can help you feel calmer, happier, and more at peace with your life. Some of the many benefits of removing clutter and simplifying your life include (1):
- Better mental and physical health
- Enhanced focus, productivity, and creativity
- Reduced anxiety
- Save time and money
Since there are so many benefits, let’s get downsizing and decluttering today!
Downsizing and Decluttering Tips for Seniors
Whether you are downsizing or decluttering, getting rid of some of your unused and excess items is a great place to start. Choose one smaller area to begin, like your bedroom closet, a hall closet, or a surface or corner that’s piled with items. We recommend starting small–wait to tackle that garage or storage unit until you’ve gathered some momentum. Once you’ve selected your small area of clutter or excess, here’s what to do.
7 Easy Steps
- Gather all the items together, preferably in a separate space. If you are cleaning out your closet, for example, take all the clothes off the hangers and out of the drawers, and move everything onto your bed and bedroom floor. While it seems like a lot of work, gathering everything out of your space ensures it will all be completely organized and decluttered. This will make it much easier to maintain, so it’s not a mess again next week! You’re saving time and effort in the long run.
- Sort items by category. Continuing with the closet example, put all the long sleeved shirts in one pile, sweaters in another, boots in another, etc. This will help you see how many of each thing you actually have.
- As you sort by category, hold and consider each item. We like the Marie Kondo approach of asking yourself, “Does this bring joy?”. Even if the item is new, a gift, or was expensive, if you never wear it or don’t like it, it’s a waste of your time and energy to keep it. Donate it to someone who can love it. If the item of clothing in question doesn’t fit, hasn’t fit in years, and realistically will probably never fit again, let it go. It’s just dragging you down. Only keep the clothes (or other items) that make you feel great.
- If the item you’re holding doesn’t bring joy, doesn’t fit, or hasn’t been used in over a year, go ahead and donate it. If it has holes or stains or isn’t in good condition, you can put it in the trash instead. Remember, these things aren’t doing you any more good in the closet than they will in the trash. Free up time and energy for the things you truly love and care about.
- Now that your closet or other space is empty, take a close look. Is it structured and organized in a way that works for you? Oftentimes, you may need to find, buy, or relocate storage furniture, drawers units, cabinets, bins, or organizers to help you maintain order in your space. Space-saving hangers in your closet can free up some space too. See if you can optimize this space as best you can.
- Once you’ve sorted everything in categories, take inventory. You can only have as many items as you can store. If it doesn’t fit in the drawer or on the hanging rod, you are not going to be able to keep it. For example, if you have 50 sweaters and you only have room for 10, it’s time to make some tough choices. Choose your very favorites, and let the rest go.
- Now it’s time to put it all away and take the rest to your local secondhand shop. Enjoy your organized and decluttered space!
Once you’ve organized your smaller area of clutter, you’ve gained the skills to start tackling larger areas. Keep moving through each clutter-filled area of your home. It’s okay if this process takes time. The time will pass either way. Eventually, you’ll get to the end and realize your entire space is organized and free of items you don’t like or use. You will be able to enjoy your space so much more, and get all those amazing mental, physical, and financial benefits.
If you’re downsizing to move, having inventoried and organized your spaces will make packing much easier. You may need to take a second look at some areas, depending on the size of home or apartment to move into. Again, take your time. This is a process that won’t happen overnight, but if you keep at it, it will happen.