There’s nothing like the excitement of moving into a new home. It’s a chance to savor new views, make new friends, and redesign your living space. For those shifting away from the burden of maintaining a large home and toward the excitement of high-rise senior living in Chicago, it’s almost impossible to wait.
But, as we all know, there are some critical interim steps. We spend our entire lives collecting more and more things, moving into larger houses to accommodate our need for space. But when trading a sprawling home for a more manageable space, scaling back becomes critical. Reducing the clutter in your life is paramount when moving into a Chicago senior living apartment.
While the task can create occasional stress in this interim phase, knowing how to choose which belongings are most important will help you walk into your new apartment and immediately feel at home. To assist in making a smooth transition, we’ve created a “rightsizing” guide that walks you through the process. Follow these tips to start decluttering your life today.
Start Today, Not Tomorrow
Rightsizing starts with organizing. Before you can get rid of some belongings, you need to create a system for deciding what to keep and what to donate. Starting the organizational process today will keep you from being overwhelmed down the road.
Even if a potential move to a smaller residence is months or even a full year away, starting early will help you avoid stress. Instead of putting off the project, start with small, achievable goals. Pick a room you do not often use as a designated sorting room. Begin your efforts with a single drawer or closet. Completing a small task offers a sense of accomplishment and motivates continued work on your rightsizing project.
Make a “Must-Have” List
Begin writing down items that are “must-haves” in your new home. Add to the list whenever you think of another item you cannot do without. If your “must-have” list looks a little too long, go back through the list and cut out excess. For instance, instead of keeping your entire collection of art and paintings, pick your favorites to keep, and then consider passing down the rest to family members.
Donate Any Spares
People often get in the mindset of having backups for their belongings. This does not become an issue for many, but for some this mindset develops into more disruptive behavior. When you begin the rightsizing process, get rid of any duplicate items. Having two large frying pans may have seemed like a good idea in the past, but it becomes a burden when transitioning to a smaller space. Clearing out all the duplicates gets you one step closer to your rightsizing goals.
Empty Junk Closets and Drawers
Everyone has a junk drawer filled with odds and ends. You go through this drawer every few years to clean out receipts and other knickknacks, but it eventually fills back up again until you can barely close it. These spaces may be even larger areas like closets, but clearing them out is critical when rightsizing to a smaller residence.
Bringing these unnecessary, rarely used items into your new home takes up valuable space that could be used for more important things. Start the process of cleaning out these neglected spaces by addressing the real purpose of these drawers and closets. Do you really need rolls of Christmas wrapping paper that each have a few feet left? How long do you need to keep all your receipts? Think of alternatives, like scanning receipts and storing them in a folder on your computer. Throw out those tiny bits of wrapping paper—or use them up quickly at the next family birthday or holiday!
Create Decision Bins
Use three bins labeled “Keep”, “Sell”, and “Donate” to separate your belongings in the room you decide to use for sorting. Avoid the urge to make a “Maybe” bin. Your objective should be to look at each item only once before making a final decision. Set goals for your sorting process.
Pick one room a week (or month, if you have more time) to focus on, then individually assess each item in the room and decide where the item should go. Keeping your attention on one item at a time helps you from being overwhelmed.
Ask for an Objective Opinion
If you find yourself unable to make decisions on many of your belongings or put too many things in the “Keep” bin, ask a friend or family member to provide an objective opinion. Having someone less attached to your things offer his or her thoughts lets you look at items from a neutral perspective, leading to more assertive decision-making. Choose someone that neither gains nor loses anything from sharing opinions. For example, if the person may receive items you decide to give away, you will find yourself doubting whether the opinion is fully objective or if the behavior is self-serving.
Ask Yourself: Function or Form?
Plan on bringing items that add purpose or function to your new residence. Keep decorative belongings that take up space to a minimum. Antique tables and chairs are fine, as their ornamental look has a functional purpose. But large vases or other purely decorative items may clutter a smaller home. A good rule of thumb is to organize your belongings by how often an item gets used. Things that you have not touched in over a year should be strong candidates for the donate pile.
If possible, strive to keep any multipurpose furniture. These items include bed frames that contain drawers and ottomans with removable tops. These pieces act as clever ways to expand space in your new high-rise apartment without crowding the area.
If the process seems like too much to handle independently, consider hiring professional rightsizing assistants or asking family for help. Just remember to take it one day at a time and stick to your rightsizing schedule. Before you know it, you will be enjoying your beautifully furnished high-rise residence in Chicago—a clutter-free senior living experience filled with the things and people you love most.