As we all do our best to participate in social distancing in the face of the coronavirus, we’re spending more time at home. And more time at home likely means we’re becoming more familiar with home and what needs to be done. Have you found yourself peering into the dresser drawers, closets, cupboards and shelves you’ve been meaning to prune and rearrange? Now just might be the perfect time to assess our spaces. And that’s especially true for those of us planning a move in the future.
Here are some downsizing tips to help you get started.
Make a list of things you know you want to keep before you start examining everything you own. If you’re moving, what absolutely must go with you? This list will help you decide what to keep when the real work begins. And it will help keep you honest.
Adopt the right attitude
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, suggests keeping only those things that “spark joy.” That is certainly one way to approach the keep-it-or-not question. But you can also ask yourself: When did I last use this? Does it fit? Is it broken? Answer the question honestly, make the decision, then move on to the next item.
Create a holding zone
Set aside a space—an unused corner or spare bedroom, for example—where you’ll place the things you’ve decided not to keep. Within that space, create piles: items for donation; items for trash; items to recycle. And try to keep that “trash” pile small by recycling as much as you can and making gifts of other items. It’s easier to let go of something if it’s going to someone you love.
Open the closets, then the drawers
Tackle these first. You’ll feel virtuous when this work is done. Now’s the time to look at it all: shoes, coats, jackets, blankets, towels, sheets. Keep two or three sets of bedsheets, no more. Donate extra blankets, excess placemats and napkins. And if you haven’t worn that jacket in a year, it goes to the holding zone. Toss old makeup and other self-care products that are expired or virtually empty. If you have old or expired medication, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s website for information about safe disposal.
Tackle the paper piles
Newspapers and magazines you’ve meant to read; old bills and invoices; tax returns and bank statements: They pile up quickly. Here’s how to whittle away at the stacks.
- Recycle what you’ve been meaning to read or use but haven’t, including catalogs, expired coupons, newsletters, outdated maps and expired warranties.
- Keep physical copies of state and federal forms, including marriage and divorce documents, social security cards, living trusts, living wills, adoption and immigration papers, deeds and mortgage papers, vehicle titles and loan documents, insurance policies. They’re hard to replace.
- Hold on to at least three years, and no more than seven years, of tax returns.
- Keep receipts for valuable items, as well as medical bills and records.
Head to the kitchen
This is the big one—the room most of us have trouble tackling. So start slowly. Open a couple of cupboards, pull out the contents and sort. How many pie plates do you really need? How many vases? Donate mismatched tableware, excess storage containers (and all the ones that have lost their lids), duplicate pots and pans. Recycle cracked glasses and bowls. If you’ve never used that mini-chopper, put it in the “donate” pile.
Take your time
You don’t have to do it all in a day—or even a weekend. Keep the day’s goal reasonable—one closet or two cupboards—and you won’t have to live with the chaos of an unfinished task. Then take a break, take a walk, talk to a friend before you tackle the next room.
Of course, if you’re moving to The Gatesworth, all this becomes just a bit easier. We have lots of professional experience helping new residents prepare. Whether you’re coming from across town or across the country, we’re here to help you get ready and then get settled.