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Sherry Brown, Professional Organizer

Downsizing Made Easy

Whether you’re an empty nester moving from a house into assisted living, or a renter trading in a two-bedroom for a apartment, you’ll need to say goodbye to some of your stuff. Worried about that? Don’t be. Sherry Brown from Organize This! Has nine easy tips to make downsizing easy!

Make a list of all the items you can’t live without; it will help you get rid of the things that didn’t make the list. “It’s hard to convince people they can’t take everything with them,” Sherry says. “But if you keep the things on your list, you won’t be upset about the things you can’t keep.”

Start getting rid of things at least three months before the move. Take some time each day, or one morning each week, to go through that cluttered closet or overflowing drawers. “Paper is a real downer,” Sherry says, so tackle it a little at a time. The same goes for photos, which require a lot of attention.

Get a feel for the size of your new rooms by comparing them to rooms of similar dimensions in your present home.For instance, your living-room-to-be might be roughly the same size as your current bedroom. You may think you can squeeze in two sofas, but this kind of reality check could help you realize that only one will fit comfortably.

Heavily edit areas with items that don’t have as much sentimental value.Take the kitchen, for example; most people don’t need 10 mixing bowls and won’t get teary-eyed over losing a second spatula. If you’re downsizing from a house to an apartment, work on the garage. Snow shovels, rakes, lawn mowers – not your worry anymore!

Don’t throw anything in the trash. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead. As tempting and easy as it is to pitch wire hangers, musty clothes and shabby furnishings, be environmentally responsible and find a home for everything. A can of Comet with a few shakes of powder left could make someone else’s sink sparkle if you don’t want it; consider giving supplies to a shelter, neighbor or cleaning lady.

Create and label three bins – Keep, Sell and Donate(bins should be manageable when full). For the average downsize, keep only one-third to one-half of your belongings, says Sherry.

Get an objective opinion.If you just can’t make a decision on whether to keep or get rid of that ratty old chair, Sherry says, “It’s good to have have an honest friend who will say, ‘Oh, please, you never use that!'” It might just be the kick you need.

Use floor plans to prearrange your furniture before the move. To start, draw plans if you don’t have any, and sketch in a furniture layout. Remember which way doors open. Then look at the plans realistically; if you’ve crammed in side tables, armoires and chairs, you need to edit more. Don’t wait until after you move to contend with furniture you’ll just end up tripping over.

Once you get to the packing stage, use a color-coded system to organize all of your boxes. Choose a color for each room and mark the boxes destined for that room with a coordinating color sticker. You can also do the same thing numerically; for example, if room No. 1 is the kitchen, then all boxes marked No. 1 will go there. A simple and efficient organizing idea to make the move that much easier!

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