Downsizing Tips

· Moving · , , , ,

I was profiled in this month’s AARP magazine, and the article talked about helping seniors downsize.  Here are my top 10 tips and a link to the article (

  1. Other people’s memories are not your responsibility.  If your great aunt’s sterling silver tea set has become an albatross, it’s time to donate it or sell it.  If your children are grown, it’s time for them to start storing their own childhood artifacts.    It doesn’t mean you love your family any less; it’s just not your burden.
  2. Work in 2-3 hour blocks of time, focusing on one area at a time.  More then that can be overwhelming and you won’t be as productive. Don’t try to tackle the whole house, but instead tackle a desk drawer or a closet.
  3. Use your new space as a guide.  Measure how much storage space you’ll have, and let that dictate your decisions.  If you’re not going to have room for something, you simply can’t keep it.
  4. Keep “maybes” to a minimum.  Touch it once, make a decision, and move on.  Moving items in and out of “maybe” piles is emotionally draining and time consuming.
  5. If a memory is worth preserving, treat it as such.  Random boxes of pictures aren’t compelling; an album of pictures (whether digital or a book) tell a story that can be enjoyed.
  6. Group like things together.  It’s the only way you’ll know that you have 4 hammers, 3 spatulas, and 6 boxes of staples (5,000 per box).  Donate what you don’t need and keep the best of the rest.
  7. Discard what’s expired.  This includes that box of muffin mix that you’ve had since 2009 and the 10 pack of pain reliever you bought on sale that’s long since past its “use by” date.
  8. Ignore sunk costs.  What you paid for something has no bearing on whether it should have a place in your life.   Whether you love it and want it is far more relevant.
  9. Your clothing should reflect your current life, not the life you used to live.  If you’ve retired to Florida, you don’t need a closet full of business suits, whether they still fit you or not.  If you’re no longer a size 4, you don’t need a wardrobe of small clothes to remind you that you’ve gained weight
  10. 10. Your possessions should reflect your current life, not the imaginary life you hope to lead.  If you haven’t built a dark room yet, it’s time to stop storing all the items you would need just in case.

In a May 2020 interview with, I shared my downsizing tips. It’s been six years since I wrote these tips, but not much has changed. See the article here.