The Florida Bar

Declutter to Make Room for Your New Improved Life

October 13, 2021

Over time, we all accumulate things we don’t need – inherited items, things stored for our children or maybe recent purchases from online entertainment-shopping during the pandemic. We can put off dealing with these until retirement is on the horizon. Then it’s time to declutter.

According to AARP, four in 10 retirements involve moving, and 51% of those moves result in a downsize. Even retirees who don’t move to smaller homes have good reasons to downsize possessions that no longer fit their lifestyle. Whatever your reason for decluttering, plan for a 6-12 month process to avoid decisions made under pressure.

If it’s time for you to declutter, consider using an organizing consultant or move manager. These professionals not only work with you to decide what to keep, but they also can often value the items you choose to give up and then get them sold, shipped or hauled away. For more information about working with a consultant, read Finding Help in a Crisis Downsizing and Letting Go of the Past for a Less Cluttered Future: Moving into a Smaller Home.

If you go it alone, experts say start small. Empty a single drawer or box and divide the contents into four piles: throw out, give away or donate, sell, and keep. Deal with those items, then move on to the next area. The process can be unexpectedly emotional; if you aren’t ready to let go it’s OK to make a fifth pile for “Maybes.” The 6-12 month target allows time for thoughtful decisions you won’t later regret.

Check out these articles and online resources to declutter like a pro. And once you have cleared out the possessions that are weighing you down, think about ways you can declutter your life. Read How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide).

Online Resources

When to Keep, Shred or Scan Important Papers

Time to Face Reality: Your Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff!

What to Do with Your Stuff the Kids Don’t Want

How to Turn Your Unwanted Possessions Into Cash Online

8 Easy Steps to a More Organized Home

Online appraisals

Sell Your Art and Antiques with Sotheby’s

Yard Sale 2.0: Smart Ways to Get Rid of Stuff