06 May

Unless your downsizing efforts are solely to simplify your life, at some point you will face a deadline. In some cases, it may be thrust upon you because of circumstances and may be sooner than you had intended. But if you are in control of your timeline, you may want to impose a date by which the bulk of this project is “finished.” Of course, downsizing needs to be an ongoing habit, or you will find yourself once again in full grown weeds. 

We have declared May 2023, a year from now, as our target date. It’s both a scary and exhilarating prospect. A year quickly passes. But we know from our past experiences that we can do this if we put our minds and energy to the task. We can envision what we want our lives to look like, and we still have the energy and wherewithal to accomplish our downsizing goals.

A one year goal feels realistic. It is not so soon that we feel overwhelmed, nor so distant that we can be complacent. We are fully aware of what we own, and we understand what needs to be done. Although we anticipate roadblocks, we don’t foresee any surprises.

We are also clear that what we value but can’t sell, we will donate. What we can’t donate, we will recycle or repurpose. What we can’t recycle or repurpose, we will toss, capturing important memories through a scan, a photo, a summary note, a scrapbook page, or a piece of art. 

With a year, we must be judicious about how we spend our time. We can no longer dawdle over the minutia. We will sell outright to dealers or consign/auction where the market will allow, and we may experiment with becoming vendors on one on-line source, such as Etsy. That is our personal choice, and it may not be yours. Money is not our goal; the goal is to get things out the door while still honoring what they mean to us. That is our guiding principle. But if can make some money in a time conscious manner, we won’t say no! 

At this stage, we’ve brought in a professional organizer, who can help us find homes for our valued stuff and connect us with others. (More about that in an upcoming post.) 

But enough with the generalities! It’s the specifics that count from now on. Here are a few questions that we have considered and that you might, too, whether or not you are at your “year to clear” mark. 

  • What is the scope of what’s left? Do you have a full picture of what you own, including your personal “archives” (including that “paper tiger” I often refer to).
  • What do you NEED in your future? What do you WANT in your future (presumably more than you need)? NEED plus WANT equals KEEP. Make an inventory. For items like books, which can take up a lot of space, you may want to set a target number rather than deciding all at once which books to keep. Your ideas about what you want to keep may change as you downsize.
  • Which items are you ready to part with right now, and which will you need until your target date? If your target date involves a move, you may need furniture until near the move date.
  • How will you dispose of the items you are ready to part with? This is a big, multi-part task. Even giving away things requires decision-making and research.
  • What is your plan for pruning through your personal and/or family archives (if they are extensive)?
  • What’s your most challenging task? Time-consuming task?
  • What can wait? Maybe you don’t have time to go through everything. Give yourself permission to put off certain tasks, like reading family letters, especially if the items involved don’t take up all that much room.
  • How much time can you and are you willing to give to the overall downsizing project?
  • What do you need to accomplish your downsizing tasks?
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