If you think organizing is hard, then you probably think you are the only one. You probably have been in friends’ homes and thought, “Well, they don’t have a clutter problem like I do.” You’ve probably organized your home before, and now that you are facing some stage of downsizing, you are thinking, I’ve been doing this for YEARS, I’ll never be able to organize my home enough.
Take a breath.
Organizing isn’t a once-and-done activity. As long as you are alive, you will be organizing. But if you are a baby boomer, and especially if you are starting to downsize, or if you have definite plans to move to a smaller house, all of the sudden, the need to organize becomes HUGE and the amount of energy you have to give to organizing is…not huge.
But you are not the first person to go through this, and having a proven system can get you through this process, while still letting you have a life.
So what kinds of things do baby boomers say when they are organizing their home?
Where do I start to organize?
Start at the door. It’s the closest thing to “start at the beginning” that I can give you. Whichever room you are working on, start at the door and go around the room.
Where should I put this? It’s perfectly good, it’s just scratched / broken / out of style / older than the one I use all the time.
If the item we’re talking about ended up in your basement or the guest room, it means that it’s not your favorite, and probably shouldn’t make the move to the next house. Yes, it may be perfectly good, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Donate it or let someone trash-pick it from your curb.
Can I give these items to friends or family members?
Maybe. If a family member has asked you for something that should stay in the family, definitely pass it on while you are still here to tell the story. However, if you are just giving items to people because you “want the items to have a good home,” it’s time to realize what your goals are…to get your household moved. Your job is not to find homes for every item that needs to go onto another life. But you know who is really, really good at finding homes for used things? Thrift stores. Even better, you can still take a tax deduction for those donations (yes, really), so don’t get hung up on making deliveries of one or two items over and over again to friends or family members. You don’t want to create an obligation for the other person, who may only take your item to help you, not because they want it.
What should I do with maps and brochures from trips we’ve taken?
If you took the trip and have your photos, then you don’t have to keep the marketing materials. Are you really going to make that scrap book? Yes, maps and landmarks do change, but you are not responsible for keeping the old information. You only have so much time and energy. Spend that time and energy organizing and enjoying the photos that you took that actually mean something to you.
What should I put here after we organize?
Nothing. Yup, that’s a hard one. If you are downsizing, it’s really critical that you start to live in a smaller space, even before you move. If your new kitchen is about 50% smaller, downsize your kitchen items into about half of your existing cabinets. This will ensure that everything fits in the new house. If you are organizing the basement, and your new house doesn’t even have a basement, that means that you want to remove everything from the basement. Everything. Either bring things into your living space and enjoy them again, or pass them on.
Deciding to empty a room well before you move is just unimaginable for some people. The minute we clear a shelf, they want to put something back on it. But if you are a boomer who is on the path to moving to a smaller home, the laws of physics demand that you remove some items from your home for good. That’s the one and only way to downsize and still feel cozy, not cluttered.
Should I keep all these bins, bags, baskets and boxes?
If you are moving imminently, then yes, you’ll want to create a SINGLE PLACE to store all the empty containers so you can use them to pack up donations. It’s really super-duper important that you get these containers out of your main spaces because empty bins can make your clutter look overwhelming! But don’t go crazy saving every oversized and miniscule box. Boxes that are about the size of a copy paper box are really handy to have around. And once you are really ready to pack up, feel free to recycle or donate any bins and boxes you don’t use.
Is this the worst you’ve ever seen?
Nope. I’ve seen some crazy rooms and cluttered homes in the decade-plus that I’ve been organizing. Your lovely, lived in house doesn’t even compete with my top 10 challenging homes. My whole team and I realize that you might feel embarrassment or anxiety around having someone come in to help you organize, but we promise you two things…that we are there to help, not judge. And if you work with us using my five step SORT and SUCCEED method, you’ll have better and faster results than you could have hoped for.
Are you a baby boomer? Have you heard yourself say some of these things when getting ready for (or even just thinking of) a move?