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Downsizing for retirement can be both scary and exciting. If you look at it as a process not to get rid of everything, but rather a way to create a new space, it will make it easier and even fun. This can mean moving to another home or staying where you are. The key is to simplify for your new lifestyle.
Where You Will Be

After youíve decided where you will be, consider the activities you will be doing. How will your lifestyle change? Will you be entertaining less and traveling for long periods of time? Are you moving to a community that offers entertainment and exercise facilities so you donít need that treadmill in your home anymore? Once you have decided where you will be going and what you will be doing, the process of downsizing is fairly easy.
What To Let Go Of And What To Keep

The next challenge is deciding what to let go of and what to keep. If you follow a few simple guidelines, it can make the job a bit easier. Ask yourself these questions when you canít decide. When was the last time you used it? Does it fit or fit into your new lifestyle? What is the worse thing that would happen if you got rid of it and couldnít replace? Is it in good condition or does it need repair? And, do you know someone else who could use it more?

In deciding what to keep, think about your daily routine and write down the things you absolutely need. Consider the activities and maintenance items to keep. Will you be doing the home maintenance or will someone else be doing this for you? Will you be hiring a cleaning service that brings their cleaning aids? Will you be cooking or are meals provided? And finally, will you be moving to a warmer climate so that you can get rid of winter clothes?
What Do You Have Space For?

With a blueprint drawing of your new home, place the most important items where you want them. After you have an idea of the kind of space you have left, then de-clutter your current home with all of this in mind. Consider keeping pieces that have storage in them like a coffee table with drawers. Keep armless dining chairs, bookcases, and beds. A sofa and two chairs in the U-shape is the best arrangement.

Those things you might not need to keep include unloved books, worn or oversized furniture, worn-out linens, old audio equipment, floor coat trees, pictures that can be taken out of frames and put in albums or digitize and store in your computer.

Before you begin, think about what you will do with the items that you want to part with. Different items will go to different places. If it is something that is a family heirloom, consider the person who would most appreciate it. Also, ask friends if they would like something before you give it away. For all of the other items, consider local charities, garage sales or estate sales, eBay or Craigslist, consignment shops, freecycle.com, or advertize in the local paper.
Make A Schedule To De-Clutter Each Room

Once you know all of your options, develop a schedule as to how and when you will de-clutter each room. This is a great time to begin packing the items you will be taking with you too. Go through the storage rooms first as they are the easiest rooms to purge. Then, go through the rooms you least use followed by the ones you use everyday.

Follow the SPACE organizing process. Sort items into categories. Purge unwanted items. Assign a place for all of your things. Contain the items you will keep. And finally, Evaluate and maintain to not bring in more than you need and continue weeding out those things that are no longer of use to you.

If you are preparing to sell your home, de-cluttering is the first step. Staging is a big part of selling a home. Professional stagers advise that the minimalist approach is the best. Put your personal items away and show off the space in a way that allows the home-buyer to visualize what their things will look like in the home. This is a good time to get temporary storage unit for those things you will be taking with you to your new home. Donít forget to arrange for the home repairs that would maximize your homes worth and facilitate a sale.

Once you have decided when you will be moving, interview and hire the movers. If you donít do the packing yourself, make sure you or someone you trust supervises the process so that they label the items correctly. This same person can help you unpack and help you set up your new home too.

Be patient and understanding of yourself and the process. If you canít decide, create an undecided box you can look through later. Give yourself plenty of time and take breaks throughout the process. And donít forget to ask for help. Either, ask someone you know and trust and who appreciates the process or hire a professional organizer who has the tools and skills to do the job more efficiently. Keep the focus on your new lifestyle, enjoy the process and donít forget to Celebrate!


Cheryl Larson is the owner of Cheryl's Organizing Concepts LLC based in Montgomery County Maryland. Cheryl and her team of organizers have been serving clients in the Washington-Baltimore Metro area since 2002. Last year she opened a branch office in Huntsville, Alabama.. In addition to hands-on organizing Cheryl mentors new and aspiring organizers and provides organizing workshops for local groups. Cheryl is a member of the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO and served on their board of directors for three years. You can visit her website at www.CherylsOrganizing.com.

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