By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

For many of you baby boomers in your 50s and 60s, you’re thinking about retirement

  • A life after career
  • A life filled with more fun and less stress
  • A smaller home with less work and less expense

When you look around your home at all of the stuff you’ve accumulated over many years you say to yourself…

“I’ve got a lot of work to do!”

“How and where do you start decluttering so you can downsize and have a simpler life like a minimalist?”

These top 5 tips will help you stay focused as you begin your decluttering journey in anticipation of retirement, that simpler life with less stuff, more time, energy, and freedom to do other things you’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

For many who are just starting the decluttering process, it’s easy to get overwhelmed because of the scope of work ahead of you.

Often you might start in one area, move on to another area and then to another without completing anything. So, you’re distracted, you lose focus, you get frustrated and want to give up because it seems impossible!

Don’t give up! Get motivated!

 

Use these 5 tips to stay laser-focused so you can accomplish your goal of decluttering for retirement 

1.   Have a clear vision for why you want to downsize and declutter

Examples:

  • New lifestyle, more fun, and freedom
  • Move close to kids and grandkids to be able to enjoy them as they grow
  • Travel, see the world, have many new experiences

Having a clear vision for the life you want to live in retirement will help you keep motivated when you get emotional, discouraged and want to give up.

Use your vision to remind you that it’s worth the effort now she can enjoy a simpler life later.

Keeping a positive attitude about the decluttering process will help you stay focused on what’s most important you know and over the next 5 to 10 years.

 

2.   Decluttering is emotional: feel your feelings

Accept the fact that you’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and maybe even exhausted. Decluttering and downsizing are both physical and emotional.

As you are going through boxes you haven’t seen in years likely you will get emotional and perhaps even shed a few tears.

  • Allow yourself to feel those emotions
  • Recall those memories both good and bad
  • Take time to sort through what you were feeling and why. I.e., death of a spouse, kids leaving home are likely to bring out sadness

Try to release that emotion and let go of the stuff that generated that emotion. Take care of yourself during the process both physically and mentally.

 

3.   Create a plan and a timeline

Commit to following your plan and your timeline.

Develop a whole house plan that includes the following:

  • A map of every room in your house
  • Where you will start
  • How you will move through the house room by room, shelf by shelf, closet by closet until completion

Your plan serves as your roadmap.

Your timeline helps to provide discipline and focus because it reminds you that this big project is possible and doable if taken in steps, when broken down into bite-size pieces.

Have a schedule and a timeline that is realistic for your lifestyle, one you can commit to

Example:

  • 5 days a week 30 minutes 8-8:30 am
  • Weekends: 2 hours Saturday and Sunday, 8-10 am
  • Put it on your calendar.
  • Mark off completed days, times, and areas.

You will start to see progress and that will motivate you to continue in the next area.

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4.   Create a deadline to create a sense of urgency

Who doesn’t work better under deadlines?

Invite family or friends for a weekend. That will motivate you to declutter the guestroom. This sense of urgency speeds up the progress and inspires you to complete by a given date.

You can also use this tip to inspire and motivate your adult children to remove their stuff from your home.

 

5.   Create a “new normal” for yourself, a new standard for a clutter-free zone

Once you’ve decluttered a particular room, declare it a clutter-free area from now on.

Raise your standards stating that clutter is no longer acceptable in this area.

You’ll be surprised at how well this method works. Eventually, you can declare your whole house clutter-free so that when you’re ready to downsize and retire much of the heavy lifting is already done.

 

A quick story to inspire you on your decluttering journey:

A few months ago, I started working with a new client on a whole house decluttering project.

Before we started, I sent her a detailed questionnaire about her decluttering success to date, what she had tried, why she wanted to declutter, etc.

After she completed that questionnaire, together, we created a room-by-room plan where we disposed, donated, or kept items throughout each area.

For 7 weeks, I worked side-by-side with her for two-hour sessions each week.

At the end of the project, she was elated. She said that prior to starting decluttering together, she had no confidence in succeeding.

After we finished, she said she felt empowered, very capable, and disciplined.

She said, if I can do it, anyone can!” 

I do hope these tips help you cross the finish line too so that you can start enjoying your simpler less cluttered life!

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