sooner than laterAt some point everyone needs to do some downsizing of their belongings. This post is about starting the downsizing process sooner than later. Purging and de-cluttering are also terms that have the same result, to reduce the number of the things we own.

We accumulate many items throughout the course of a lifetime. Things wear out, or we grow out of them, or our tastes change and we get more things, maybe different things.

What we do with the things we are no longer using may be different for each of us.  A lot of times we stash them away where we don’t see them all the time; out of sight, out of mind.

Most people don’t really think about their things until they get in their way. At that point they may realize they need to purge, or downsize to clear some space, they start to notice the piles.

There’s any number of reasons why someone would need to reduce the number of their belongings by downsizing.  The most common reason may be when moving from one home to another. Not only purging while packing, but it may happen while unpacking as well. You may find that you don’t have enough storage space for everything you moved, so you do another purge.

As we age, our physical and mental capabilities change, it’s just the natural course of life. Most don’t really think about their stuff since there are more important things to deal with on a regular basis.

There are differing opinions on why or when to start reducing your belongings. If you haven’t heard about ‘Swedish death cleaning’, you may want to read a blog post I wrote about it some time ago. It’s actually about de-cluttering, or downsizing, not so much about cleaning.

A good time to work on downsizing is when you start heading toward retirement.  You may have done some purging along the way and that’s great. But I’m guessing you haven’t kept up with the pace of things coming in, with those going out.

You may just be looking at retirement so you don’t have a plan yet. That’s ok but you probably know you will need to downsize. Here are some reasons why you may want to downsize sooner than later.

Physical strength isn’t what it used to be

It’s easier to downsize a little bit at a time at your own pace to avoid overwhelm. At this point you still have the physical strength to do the work. If you keep waiting to start, your physical strength will start to wane and you may need help, or at the very least the process will not be as easy on your body.

Dealing with emotions may become more difficult as we age

Everyone has emotional attachments to certain things.  As we age, we can become more emotional about our things than when we were younger.  One thing to keep in mind is that your kids do not want your things.  Try not to take it personally if they don’t want your antiques, crystal or china.  Even though they are your treasured possessions, they may not feel the same way about them.

You don’t want others to make decisions about your things

Everyone is responsible for dealing with their belongings.  If you don’t deal with your things sooner than later, your situation may require that others make those decisions for you.  If your health takes a serious downturn, you may not have the capacity to make those decisions.

A common scenario is that an elderly parent or grandparent living alone starts to take falls more frequently.  A health assessment may indicate that mom can no longer live alone and needs to go into assisted living, sooner than later. At that point, mom may or may not be able to make decisions about her belongings. When someone else makes those keep or toss decisions about her things, there will be mistakes and hard feelings.