On average, Americans move about 11.7 times in their lifetime. Moving to a new house can be a very stressful activity, and since you might have to move several times, you need to make the process more manageable. You can achieve this by getting a little bit organized. If you have disorganized items while moving, you risk losing, breaking some, and leaving others in your older house. Here are some organizational tips that will help make your move a total breeze.

Plan Ahead

The best way to stay organized as you move is by preparing early enough to avoid the last-minute rush. Call the movers early and set a date. If you need help from your family and friends, notify them of the moving date in advance. Next, figure out the supplies you will need while moving. Get enough boxes, garbage bags, label markers, and other moving supplies.

If you have toddlers, you need to plan for childcare on the moving date. For school-going kids, tell them about moving earlier to prepare them emotionally and let them know how they can help. On a moving day, catering to your children’s needs will make the process a bit easier. So, plan for breaks and meals to avoid chaos and distractions.

Create a To-Do List

The moving process involves lots of activities. You, therefore, need to create a to-do list to keep you on track. Once you have your moving date set, the first thing you do is create a moving timeline and a calendar of events. Outline what you should do in the months before the moving day. Break large tasks into smaller ones, so you don’t get overwhelmed by the relocation process. Prioritize tasks in terms of their importance and set a time frame for each activity.

Remember to note down critical information of all the people involved, from the realtor, packers, movers, and inspectors. Write down realtor meeting dates, when you need to make donations, and include packing deadlines on your plan. A well-defined schedule will prevent you from overlooking any details. It will give you an idea of what you need to do at a specific time. A good plan also makes it easier to delegate tasks and supervise different crews.


You probably have too many items in your current house that you don’t need or use anymore, and you wouldn’t want to move them to your new home. This is the best time to declutter. Move from room to room, sort out which things you will carry along and those you should let go of. Set up some items for donations. You can sell others, give out broken appliances for recycling and return items that belong to others. Decluttering will make your unpacking process less chaotic.

Label Your Items

The best way to keep your items organized while moving is by labeling them. Label the contents in each box, give your packages a number and prepare a list of what each box contains. This way, you won’t have to open all the boxes if you need something after getting to your new house. Put like items in one package to make the unpacking process more manageable. Also, pack room by room and indicate the boxes that contain a specific room’s items. Once you get to your new house, move the boxes to the appropriate rooms for easy unpacking.

Create an Unpacking Plan

Even before you move, have a well-organized plan on how you will unpack and stick to it. Create a time frame and realistic goals, and hold yourself accountable. As you move, you need to ensure that your family has access to the essential items, so you should pack them last and unpack them first. They include food, toiletries, medication, keys, electronic devices, and chargers. After unpacking the necessities, move to the kitchen, line the cupboards, cabinets, unpack what you need, and have major appliances hooked up. After the kitchen, put the bedroom together, move to the bathrooms, then to the living room and arrange furniture. You can finish up with organizing the garage, basement, and other utility rooms.

The Bottom Line

Moving and reorganizing your new home can be overwhelming, but you can make it easier by staying organized. The above tips will help keep everything in control on your next move.

Author Bio: Colin Crown is a contributing writer and media specialist for North American Van Lines. He is an avid foodie, marketing enthusiast and loves the city of Memphis.

There are all kinds of benefits to downsizing in your golden years — lower energy bills, a smaller space to clean and maintain, and the potential of moving closer to loved ones. It’s a wonderful way to open the door to the next stage of your life. Even so, decluttering and downsizing can be a difficult and sometimes painful experience for older adults. Saying goodbye to the home they’ve raised a family in doesn’t come easily.

This guide is designed to make the downsizing process as simple as possible for aging adults and their loved ones. It will help you prepare for the transition, as well as offer advice to loved ones on what they can do to help. Keep the lines of communication open, take it one step at a time, and don’t rush into anything before you’re ready.

Step One: Determine the area and size of the new home

It’s important to establish exactly where your loved one is headed. Not only will it affect just how much they should (or must) declutter and downsize, it adds an exciting element to the process. So whether they want to move to Dallas, TX to live with loved ones, or downsize to a condo in Miami, instead of focusing on leaving their old home behind, your downsizing parent can look forward to the new one.

Of course, where the older adult moves to will depend on any number of factors. Mobility and ability restrictions, caregiving needs, location of loved ones, and budget will all play a role. Your loved one’s preferences are also crucial to the equation and should be taken into consideration at each step. There will likely need to be compromises, especially if budget concerns are an issue, so be prepared to have multiple conversations to work out all the details. Keep in mind that the arrangements can look just about any way you want them to — many retirement communities and assisted living facilities offer personalized options to meet any need or comfort — so it’s important to make sure everyone feels comfortable with them.

There are five main options for seniors looking to downsize:

  • Buying a smaller house or condo
  • Renting a smaller home
  • Moving in with a loved one (adult child, sibling, etc.)
  • Moving into a retirement community
  • Entering assisted living

The sooner you discuss what decluttering, and downsizing will actually look like, the more time everyone will have to evaluate all of the options. Don’t force the conversation if your loved one seems resistant to the idea; unless your aging parent or a family member has had a recent medical or caregiving issue that could hinder their quality of life, there’s no need to rush into talking about it. Bring the topic up again at a later date, potentially with additional support from family or friends. It shouldn’t feel like an intervention or anyone trying to make decisions for your loved one, but a group of people who genuinely want to help figure out a positive solution to their living situation.

Step Two: Declutter and organize

It’s amazing the number of things you can acquire over the course of a lifetime. From an endless array of dishes to closets full of linens to the many mementos and knickknacks of a life well-lived, addressing where all these items will go can be overwhelming. It’s also an incredibly emotional process for everyone involved. These aren’t just objects; they’re memories; they’re what’s made the house a home for all these years. It’s important to acknowledge and respect this loss. Go into the process prepared to part with plenty, but giving yourself room to keep the items that mean most.

The most straightforward way to sort through items is to ask yourself four questions about the item:

  • Do I need it or want it?
  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Do I use it often?
  • Do I have another item that performs the same function?

Do I need it or want it?

You don’t have to throw away everything you could live without, but you should be pretty strict about your definition of need. If you have a bread maker that’s been sitting in the cabinet untouched for years, don’t feel like you “should” keep it just because it was a Hanukkah gift. Think realistically about the years ahead: will you use it more than a few times? Are you genuinely excited for the few times you’ll use it? Will it make an important difference in your life to hold onto the item? It’s okay to say yes, but it is also okay to decide you don’t need it. Decluttering and downsizing are about simplifying, so make a decision and feel confident in sticking to it.

Does it have sentimental value?

The hardest items to part with will be the ones directly tied to beloved memories with your family and friends. Still, if you kept absolutely everything of sentimental value, decluttering and downsizing would be impossible. Use the packing and sorting process as a way to reflect and let go. As you and a loved one go through your things, talk about them and the memories they conjure up.

Do I use this item often?

There are going to be some items you’re simply used to having around, but ultimately don’t use very much. Think about your day-to-day routine: which items do you use the most? When looking around your house, which objects have been merely functional décor? Additionally, consider whether where you’re going will have a valuable replacement — just because you’ve always used a traditional toaster doesn’t mean you can’t adapt to your daughter’s toaster oven, for instance. Continue to be realistic about the future, keeping in mind that there might be someone else who would get much more use out of the item than you might.

Do I have another item that performs the same function?

Whether it’s two blenders or a dozen winter coats, duplicate items are the easiest way to declutter and downsize. Choose the newest or best-functioning electronics, and a reasonable amount of more practical items like towels, blankets, outerwear, and other clothing. Use the opportunity to clean out your closet and embrace the opportunity to minimize. Hiring a senior move manager, professional organizer, or declutterer can make a world of difference during this process and make the transition much more simple.

Step 3: Find new homes for the items you aren’t keeping

Moving expenses can become pricey. Yard sales are a great way to make some extra money to help fund the move and a great way to find new homes for your things quickly. Choose a day that’s likely to be nice, even if it’s somewhat far in the future. Having your yard sale on a nice day is likely to draw in more customers who are looking for bargains.

Donate any remaining items that did not sell during your yard sale. Many charities and organizations can even pick up boxes directly from your home. It can feel impersonal and somewhat distressing sometimes — even with a yard sale, your items tend to go to neighbors you’re familiar with — but it’s important to focus on the end result. Someone in need will truly benefit from your donation and appreciate it each and every day.

Step 4: Prepare for the move

After you have taken the time to declutter and get rid of unwanted items, you can start to think about packing and making the move to your new home. Moving can be stressful and difficult. Hiring a senior move manager to assist you with this transition can be very beneficial. They can help make your move as stress-free as possible and will be there by your side throughout the entire process.

Step 5: Say goodbye to the house

Just as aging adults have to say goodbye to their possessions, the time will come to say goodbye to the house, as well. It will be a difficult process, but one with plenty of love and support from family and friends.

The truth is, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to say goodbye to the family home. Discuss what will work best for your family in an open and honest setting; don’t feel ashamed if you’re having trouble. It’s vital that the entire family supports one another throughout the decluttering and downsizing process, so don’t be afraid to ask for or offer help.

However, the goodbyes are said, make it a point to bid farewell. You’re closing a major, important chapter of your life. It’s okay to feel sad, even as if you’ve suffered a loss, but don’t lose sight of the exciting next step that lies ahead.

Step 6: Make the transition

No matter where you are headed, your new home won’t feel like home right away. Do what you can to bring in the most important items first, those that will make you feel especially comforted. Move-in day should be a family affair, even if you already have help from a senior move manager or movers. Any family member who is able to should stop by to help out, bring food and refreshments, troubleshoot issues, and simply make the occasion a happy one. Keep the mood as light and exciting as possible: focus on the fact that it’s a new beginning rather than an end.

You should check in on your loved ones regularly to discuss how things are going. You don’t have to stop by every day, but a nightly call for the first week or two can certainly make aging adults feel less lonely. It’s especially important if they’ve just moved to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Find the balance between hovering and checking-in, even rotating responsibility among family members.

Decluttering and downsizing are often one of the best choices an aging parent can make, but it’s their decision when and if they want to. Ease into the idea and keep the conversation ongoing. It will be painful, but the inevitable sting of leaving the family home should never stop anyone from simplified and happier living.

Originally Published on Redfin

by Lexi Klinkenberg

What is virtual organizing?

  • Virtual organizing is a process for getting organized through the use of telephone, email, photographs, Zoom Video Conference, FaceTime, or other technology.
  • The primary difference between on-site organizing and virtual organizing is clients don’t have our hands to help you move and sort your items.

“Our expertise, your hands.”

  • It can be an accompaniment to the traditional organizing format or an alternative to on-site organizing assistance.
  • It is collaborative—both the client and professional organizer develop a plan to achieve the desired outcome based on the initial assessment.

Why virtual organizing instead of hands-on organizing?

For some people, access to an on-site professional is either limited or not possible due to a variety of factors, regardless of need.  There is also a large population that is better able to succeed through organizing virtually over the physical presence of another person.  Due to our current economic and pandemic times, we realize that the “gap” is widening, making access to professional help more challenging for both the client and professional organizer.  What I have discovered is that for many people, virtual organizing can have the same beneficial outcomes as on-site sessions in terms of skill transfer and long-term organizing success.

What are the benefits of Virtual Organizing versus hands-on organizing?

  • Virtual organizing is sometimes more comfortable for the client rather than having the professional organizer present in their environment.
  • Virtual organizing fees are often lower than hands-on organizing fees.
  • Sessions are shorter in duration, so they are more manageable to fit them into your schedule.
  • By doing the work with your own hands and more on your own, rather than the professional organizer doing the work for you, you will be learning and applying organizing skills.
  • There are no geographical boundaries.

How does it work?

  • The client walks the professional organizer through their space virtually and discusses their goals, strengths, and challenges.
  • The professional organizer prepares a plan tailored for you to make a difference in your space and with your systems.
  • To ensure a successful outcome, in-between sessions, the client completes organizing tasks that the professional organizer assigns.
  • The professional organizer instructs organizing sessions while the client supplies the physical work. The client will be learning and applying organizing skills during each session.
  • At each session, we review your progress and achievements, and, if necessary, troubleshoot any roadblocks you experienced.

Access Our Virtual Organizing Services

When you have a smaller home, every inch of space counts! If you’re feeling cramped in your tight quarters, don’t worry: making a small space more livable is much easier than it sounds. To help you get started, we asked organizational experts for their best tips and tricks for maximizing space in a small area. Check them out and you’ll feel like you’re living large in no time.

  1. Start by purging your items. Set up three boxes and label them “keep” “donate” and “trash.” Set a timer for two hours and start categorizing the items within the three boxes. Don’t step away to put an item in the room or area that it belongs, just place it in the keep pile for now. If you come across things that spark a trip down memory lane, set it aside for now in the “Keep” category. Plan a “Memory Night”, order some food in, and take that trip with family and friends! – Organizing by Ali, Alison Monaghan
  2. Store less frequently used kitchen items elsewhere. In the kitchen, look for small appliances, big cookware, extra canned foods, and extra paper products that are not used regularly and move to another storage area in your home. This frees up space and allows for a less cluttered feel. – Cleared Spaces, Amy Van Arsdale
  3. Accommodate the storage spaces you’re working with, versus attempting to accommodate your belongings. So many of us feel we don’t have ample storage, however, we may just need to pair down our belongings in an effort to truly work towards a simplified space in a smaller home. – Organized for Life, Lauren Silveira
  4. Incorporate storage within your decor. For example instead of having shelving staged with only home decor and books, mix in beautiful bins to house other items. Think of electronic accessories, envelopes or office accessories, and even toys. – Freshly Organized, Melanie Schmidt

Tall bookshelves or cabinets can also store clothes, crafts, and toiletries. – Arranged by Erin, Erin Kelly

  1. Use over-the-door organizers. The back of a door can be a wonderful storage place.
  • Buy an inexpensive clear hanging shoe organizer, place it over your door and use it to store items such as scarves, socks, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, travel toiletries or hair products. You can even use them for shoes! – Aim 4 Order, Cindy Bernstein
  • In the absence of a linen closet, utilize over the door organizers for fun and functional linen storage. – Let Your Space Bloom, Amy Bloomer
  1. Remove doors from closets. If you have bedroom closets with bi-fold doors and you need more space, remove the doors. They pop out easily. Once they’re gone, the space will feel larger, and you can put up a curtain instead if you like. The closet can become an office, too, with a desk, computer, and other office accessories. – DETAILS Organizing It All, DeeDee Welles
  2. Have a paper filing system. Every household needs one. Every piece of paper worth keeping should have a permanent home where you will know to look for it. There are things that will have to be kept and those need to be filed. Most likely, those files will have to be created as you go. – My Space Reclaimed, Maristella Bertram
  3. Utilize vertical wall space. New York City apartment dwellers are always looking to maximize their tight spaces. Make use of vertical spaces with shelving, hooks, or other mounting options.  Backs of doors are hidden gems, as can be tight spaces to the side of fridges, washer/dryers, etc.  Using wall space can be a great way to blend the functional with the visual- hooks for a decorative hat display or floating shelves with color-coded books are great ways to add personalized decor while also adding storage. – Embrace Your Space, Sarah Grace
  4. Clear the medicine cabinets. Medicine cabinets are often home to mostly expired medicine, lotions, and all manner of potions.  Find inexpensive drawer organizers at Target Bed Bath and Beyond, or Container Store. Keep first-aid stuff close at hand. Use baggies to gather hair clips, razors, nail supplies, etc. – A Clear Path, Dr. Regina F. Lark
  5. File fold. Things tend to get lost in deep shelves that hold clothing. To solve this problem, plastic boot boxes from the container store allow one to “file fold” so clothing isn’t stacked. File folding allows you to see what you have and eliminates the clothing from falling all over if it was in a pile. – Lisa The Organizer, Lisa Haubenstock
  6. Remember that less is more. We can all cut down on the number of products we buy. If your space is overwhelmed with products, that clutter can make an already small space feel tiny. – Clutterless Home Solutions, Lahni Carney
  7. Turn cleaning into a game for the kids. To de-clutter the playroom and instill de-cluttering habits in your kids, make cleaning fun by turning cleaning into a game! Use clear packing cubes as a smart storage solution for toys and other knick-knacks. Categorize each packing cube and ask them to match the toys to the corresponding packing cube. – EzPacking
  8. Save space in your laundry room. Use open shelving or a hanging rack system placed on the back of a door. Both are good options to keep washing supplies organized and easily available. Zone the shelf space and use containers to keep categories together. – Everyday Organizing, Nancy Patsios
  9. Use clear or mesh wall pockets for mail. These are a must for organizing mail when you don’t want papers piling up on your kitchen counter or dining room table. Designate one wall pocket for magazines/ catalogs, one for bills to pay, and the third one for all other types of mail. Be sure to label your wall pockets and go through them once a week to keep the papers from piling up. – reSPACEd, MaryJo Monroe
  10. Find storage solutions for “dead” space. These are places where furniture or full-size wall shelves won’t fit. Some examples of dead space are:
  • The wall underneath stairs  – Perfect for hooks to store coats, keys, hats & bags, a dry-erase board/bulletin board/family calendar, or wall pockets to store mail.
  • The inside of kitchen or bathroom cabinet doors – Ideal for 3M Command hooks or magnetic hooks or cups to store small items like pot-holders, dish towels, Tupperware lids, scissors, make-up, or toothbrushes. – Cluttershrink
  1. Be careful when using vacuum-sealed bags. Never use vacuum-sealed bags for delicate textiles like cotton, suede, silk, leather, etc. Only use them for durable fabrics such as denim or ski gear. Natural fabrics need to breathe or else the fabric will be irreversibly damaged. Don’t ruin your clothes in order to save space using a vacuum-sealed storage bag. – Garde Robe, Doug Greenberg
  2. Double-duty furniture. This allows you to not only maximize your physical space but also the functionality of a space.
  • For example, my ottoman holds a dozen shoes, my mirror is hiding all of my jewelry, and my nightstand doubles as an underwear drawer. It’s all about getting creative while finding homes to store your things and the possibilities for multi-purpose furniture pieces are endless! – Sort & Sweet
  • In your living room, choose a coffee table or end table that provides storage below for books, blankets, etc. either by neatly placing the items or by utilizing baskets to conceal the items in the space.”  – Orderly by Danica, Danica Finocchario-Smith
  1. Install a custom spaceBuilt-ins tailored to your needs can utilize every available sliver of space. When they’re part of the walls, you don’t lose as much valuable square footage. For example, turn a wall into an office or craft space. – SolutionsForYou, Anne Blumer

Originally published by Redfin


Congratulations, you have made the tough decision it is time to downsize your home. Whether that choice was made to reduce your carbon footprint on our fragile planet or to make life easier with less to manage or born of the desire to age in place, thousands of little decisions await you. The challenge of what to take to your new home and what to leave behind can feel a bit overwhelming, but it is important to keep the end goal in mind and envision how terrific it will feel to lighten your load of possessions. Think about how much better life will become with far less stuff. The process often takes longer than we anticipate, so starting early will relieve some of the stress. A variety of strategies can be utilized to tackle the project.

“No use in a year” approach

Yep, if you have not used the item in an entire year, it has to go. For the fashionistas out there, that means if a garment is not worn at least once in the appropriate season, say adios. If only half of your holiday decorations are used each year, get rid of the unused ones. If your shelves are laden with books you vowed to read but have not given a passing glance to in 360 days, gift them, sell them, donate them.

“Does the furniture fit?” approach

Measure your current furniture, especially the larger pieces to see what items will work in your new home. Those that do not, try consigning them or selling them on Craigslist. Are the appliances included in your new abode? If not, make certain yours will fit in the appropriate spaces. If you are moving from a three- or four-bedroom home down to a two or even a one-bedroom, you can bet there is no space for the furniture from those extra rooms. Perhaps the new owner of your current home would appreciate having some of the furniture left in the house. It couldn’t hurt to ask. They may even pay you something for it.

“Do you really need the stuff in storage?” approach

While the storage areas (attic, basement, garage) can be home to an abundance of belongings and some of the most challenging areas to sort, they can also be the places to unburden yourself from a ton of stuff. Will your new home require that you maintain a yard? If not, you can easily dispose of lawnmowers, garden tools, blowers, and an array of other bulky items. If you don’t even remember what all you have in those vast storage vaults, you may find a lot to readily get rid of. If there is quite a lot, consider a yard sale, where lawn and outdoor items typically sell well.

“What about antiques and family heirlooms?”  approach

Check with family members to learn what items they would like to inherit and give it to them early. You will really make points with your loved ones. Your local antique consignment store may wish to take some of the things, too. Again, advertising the pieces online with good quality photos could be a great way to go.

These are just a few workable strategies that you can mix and match or dream up your own. And remember, a valuable resource to support your downsizing project is SolutionsForYou, including an experienced Certified Professional Organizer and Senior Move Manager.

Team”  approach

Do you know that when you hire us as a team, our hourly rate is $50/hour per team member? Compare that in the marketplace, and you will not find another Professional Organizer in our area for that rate with the level of experience (35 years collectively), industry memberships, and certifications we hold.

We have seen the power of numbers and the results it brings to many, many clients over the years. We know it is the most effective way to give you the results you want to achieve in the shortest time.

Choose from two team packages; the Ultimate Team Package or the Transformational Team Package. We are also available to work with you one-on-one with our Get Started Package and our Basic Package. Learn more about our packages and find relief from being overwhelmed.

Anne, Katie, and Melissa are looking forward to working with you to achieve your organizing and productivity goals.


Anne [at] SolutionsForYou [dot] com

In addition to being the start of a brand-new decade or end of the decade, depending on what you believe, a host of significant things are happening in the upcoming year, which will affect us nationally and globally. What about those individual Earth-rattling life events. For instance a new job?  A new city?  A new home? A new relationship or co-habitant? How about a new stage of life?

What if you reach a point in life where you have raised your family, thrived in your professional arena, worked hard, and contributed to society? What is next? Are you all set to relax, travel, take up new hobbies, play with the grandkids, live your dreams? Good for you! But, the “Third Act of Life” is a tricky terrain to navigate, my friend.

You may be marathon-ready fit and still have physical surprises: grumpy knees, snarly backs, or a host of other challenges potentially impacting baby-boomers. As we gain more birthdays, major life-altering change is often in one’s living situation. That charming three-story Tudor where you raised your family is suddenly too massive for a couple of seniors to deal with. Even that beautiful, scenic townhouse condo, the one you thought had a built-in fitness feature of 15 stairs to the second level, no longer works for you. Who wants to suddenly ignore half of the home’s total square footage, plus not be able to use the place where you sleep, work, and store things?

In this new chapter of life, can you successfully age in place, or is a move to a smaller, single-story home the best option, or does a transition into a senior living community seem the right choice?

Whenever a senior must downsize, it typically requires disposing of a substantial amount of possessions. Be it you or a loved one in this situation, the prospect of sorting two, three, or even four decades of accumulated “stuff” is daunting to be sure. Leaving behind items representing meaningful memories tugs at one’s heart. The sheer physicality of moving boxes and belongings from storage areas is demanding. And, the time-consuming nature of the overall task may feel intimidating.

In addition, it is wise to call in reinforcements: Family members, neighbors, and even the pros. Trained professional organizers and even rare Certified Professional Organizers and Senior Move Managers can partner with you to relieve the stress of moving in one’s golden years. It is beneficial to have someone guide and support you as you sort, choosing what to retain, gift, donate, and dispose of.

Above all, whether 2020 will be your new chapter or not, a positive, inquisitive attitude is definitely the best way to greet the adventures awaiting us in the future.

Happy New Year! Happy 2020!

If you need help from the Professional Organizers of SolutionsForYou (one of whom is a Certified Professional Organizer and Senior Move Manager), give us a call 503-706-3502 or email us at Anne [at] SolutionsForYou [dot] com

My Interview with JPS Newton

Downsizing your home is a popular action to take after the kids leave home or you retire. But no one said it would be easy to sift through so many years’ worth of items to decide what stays and what goes! We reached out to Anne Blumer, a Certified Professional Organizer, for some tips on how to make those tough decisions.

To downsize or not to downsize?  That is the question we may ask ourselves when we become empty nesters or retire from the workplace.

Talking with your Financial Advisor is always a good first step when making this important decision.  He or she can help you determine if moving to a smaller home will reduce your monthly living expenses, thus freeing up money (and time) for other pleasurable experiences.  Additional steps will follow if you decide to change your residence; however, the one task many of us dread the most is choosing what to do with all the “stuff” that has accumulated in our homes over the years.

We asked our colleague Anne Blumer, a Certified Professional Organizer and Owner of SolutionsForYou, Inc., a Portland-based professional organization company, how she helps clients approach the process of deciding what to keep and what to toss when they choose to downsize.

JPS Newton:  How do you begin to tackle this type of project, which can be difficult, both physically and emotionally?

Anne Blumer:  As with any project that seems overwhelming, it is helpful to break it down into tasks with deadlines and who will complete the task. It can help you and your loved one gain control and feel a sense of calm.

JPS Newton:  What questions can you ask yourself about your items to help decide whether they stay or go?

Anne Blumer:  Often it is easier to think about what to keep versus what to let go of—focus on the positive. As a first step, I often walk through the home with a client and we put removable dot stickers on the things they want to keep.

Understanding how much space you are downsizing to is another consideration in deciding how much you can keep.  If you currently have 3,000 square feet and you are downsizing to 1,000 square feet, you will need to reduce your stuff by 33%.  Another way to think of this is for every two items you keep, one must go.

Other helpful questions to ask are:

– Does this object represent who I am today?

– Where will I place this object in my new home?

– Will I use it?

– Do I love it?

– Would I buy it today?

JPS Newton:  What should we be sensitive to when helping loved ones go through this process?

Anne Blumer:  Making thousands of decisions about what to keep or let go is exhausting!  Try to spend only 2-3 hours at a time on this task, to begin with.  If your loved feels they can work longer then increase the time and, conversely, if 2-3 hours is too much, then shorten the duration.

It can be emotionally painful letting go of things that represent memories.  Seniors are often concerned about people forgetting them after they are gone.  They hold on to their things to represent them after they are gone.  Remind them their legacy comes from more than the possessions they have owned. Allow your loved one’s time and space to tell their stories and share their memories. Record their stories and take photographs of the objects they are letting go of that represent their memories.  Later, create a memory book for them along with their recorded stories.

JPS Newton:  What types of resources are available to people who are downsizing their home? 

Anne Blumer:  Certified Professional Organizers, such as myself, who specializes in downsizing and senior move management are a great resource.  A neutral person working with your loved one is going to preserve your relationship during this transition!  Plus, we have vetted all the other types of resources that can be helpful to transition your loved one to their new home, such as cleaning services.

Are you ready to downsize? Download our Downsizing and Live Large: A Guide to the Next Chapter of Your Life

Let’s get started!

It seems everywhere I read on social media the message is downsizing and go minimal.  Often that isn’t as easy as one hopes.  If you have run out of space, here are 7 strategies to maximize your smaller footprint or any footprint.

Strategy #1 Edit Your Belongings

Follow our proven and easy-to-implement 5 Steps to Organizing® process to curtail your belongings to what you use and love.

Strategy #2:  Go Vertical

One of the easiest, most effective, tricks is to go up rather than out.  By utilizing vertical space you save square footage.

Strategy #3 Accessibility

Placing drawers inside a closet as a dresser can free up space in the bedroom.  It also keeps all clothing in one central location.  You could add wheels to a set of free-standing drawers to make a rolling cart for all types of uses such as a kitchen island and storage of frequently used kitchen tools, craft materials, office supplies, or projects.

Strategy #4: Close the Gaps

Use containers that fill a shelf space and different size containers from one container family that are modular and made to fit together.

Strategy #5: Double-Duty Furniture

Find a table that can function as a desk and dining table. Get a deep sofa that can double as a guest bed. Buy cubes that can serve as a coffee table.

Strategy #6: What’s Behind the Door?

Behind every door is an overlooked and hidden area with big storage potential.  To maximize every centimeter you’re paying for, take advantage of the backs of doors in your room for bags, scarves, belts, hats, and more.  This tactic also frees up drawer space for other items.

Strategy #7: Install a Custom Space

Built-ins tailored to your needs can utilize every available sliver of space.  When they’re part of the walls, you don’t lose as much valuable square footage.  For example, turn a wall into an office or craft space.

What ideas do you have for maximizing a smaller footprint?  Please share with us!

It seems the Portland housing market has picked up because my team and I have been downsizing, packing, and unpacking many clients this spring.  I have lost count, but I would estimate that we have eliminated over 200 black garbage bags of “stuff” in the past two months.

I have learned over the 11+ years of working as a professional organizer, that it is challenging for people to make decisions about what to keep and that’s why they have too much stuff.  We decide to deal with our stuff later and later never comes.  [Lack of] decision making is often the reason we have too much stuff.

Regular practice of anything makes the task or activity easier.  If you want it to get easier for you to make decisions about what stuff to keep, exercising the decision making part of your brain daily will help immensely.  It doesn’t have to require a lot of time.  Simply spend 5 minutes each and every day and let go of 5 things you have multiples of.  Every day it will get a little bit easier to make a decision about what stuff to keep and what to release.

To get you started, below is a list of 30 items you probably have multiples of that you can reduce. In 30 days you will have 150 fewer things taking up space.  If you practice this for 1 year, you will have 1,825 fewer things and a very strong decision making brain!

Vases (you know, the ones you get from the florist that you have 20 of)
Writing instruments (pens, pencils, markers)
Plastic food storage containers
Bags (plastic, paper, boutique, gift)
Water Bottles
Threadbare socks
Broken Objects
Unfinished Projects
Expired canned/packaged food
Home décor objects
Partially burned candles
Hotel soap/shampoo
Single socks/gloves/mittens
Expired or really old spices/herbs
Weed 5 files
Wire hangers (I say ditch all, but start with 5 if that is too hard)
Greeting cards you received
Household cleaners you decided you don’t like
Expired over the counter medications
5 items in your junk drawer (I know you have one drawer, maybe two)
Expired makeup/dried up nail polish
Let me know what you experience from this exercise and what other items you released.


My mother, Priscilla, is 86 years old and her husband, Don, is 90. Until recently, they lived in a mobile home park for 18 years. Don has dementia and it has been progressing to a point that in recent years Priscilla has taken care of everything; the housework, their finances, meal planning, and preparation, arranging for home repairs/maintenance, yard work, all the driving… everything! Priscilla also has neuropathy in her feet (due to a foot surgery gone wrong) causing difficulty to walk and has experienced a few too many falls lately. My siblings and I said, enough! It’s time for Priscilla and Don to move to a community where they have freedom from all of the day-to-day chores and upkeep, plus on-site care.

We found a wonderful community–it’s like living on a cruise ship. The apartments are very small (600 square feet), but right outside their door are all the amenities of a cruise ship: saline pool, exercise room and trainers, massage therapists, gift shop, library, movie theater, demonstration room, bar, restaurants, hair salon, chapel and a concierge to arrange everything for you. Heck, I want to move there! At 86 Priscilla, amazingly, does yoga three times a week and she loves to swim–so this is going to be heaven for her.

This is one of the moments in your life that you know is coming, but you can easily get overwhelmed by the thought of doing–DOWNSIZING and MOVING. Because, before THE MOVE there is the ENORMOUS task of going through all of the STUFF, STUFF, and more STUFF. Priscilla and Don were wildflower and scenic photographers. You can’t even imagine the thousands of slides they accumulated over the decades. As we started, my siblings and I (all very opinionated) were disagreeing on how to move “mom” and sell the house.  I said to my siblings, “To keep the family peace we are going to divide and conquer!” My role – THE MOVE, my brother – GARAGE/ESTATE SALE, and my sister – SELL THE HOUSE.  

With any project that seems overwhelming, it is helpful to break it down into tasks with deadlines. It can help you gain control and feel a sense of calm. I pulled together our project plan and gave Priscilla her tasks that she could complete on her own. Such as change of address notices, canceling utilities not needed before house sale, mail forwarding, changing home insurance, collect important papers/valuables, etc. For complete lists I use ListPlanIt.

Priscilla and I went through their entire house and put “dot” stickers on everything they wanted to take with them. This made it very easy when I worked with the movers to pack. If it had a dot it got packed, if not it was left behind.  It took quite some convincing for my mother to not pack up her entire kitchen.  I had to remind her one of the reasons for the move was so she wouldn’t need to meal plan and cook as much–if at all. The one area she would not downsize–her spices, not even her pumpkin pie spice. We contacted Lile Moving and Storage to pack and move their belongings.

Priscilla wanted some new furniture and we needed to maximize their small space. We designed a floor plan to determine where and how the existing and new furniture would fit. 

Then, we went to Ikea. I thought Priscilla would faint at the enormity of it. Even though we were armed with a plan of what specific items we wanted, we were there three hours. I was exhausted, but not Priscilla! From there we went to several stores in search of wall-mounted switch lights–not an easy find these days. We found two at Lowes.  

I drove Priscilla home and continued on to the Container Store to purchase elfa drawer systems and other organizing goodies for their downsized space.

The weekend of THE MOVE Priscilla and Don stayed at my sister’s home while my husband and I worked with the movers, assembled furniture, installed lamps, shelves, and pullout drawers, got all of their electronics working, and organized their downsized stuff in their new home. You can view THE MOVE activity and before/after photos here.

If you, or someone you know is ready for downsizing consider working with professionals, such as myself and Lile Moving and Storage. It will be less overwhelming, less emotional, and less stressful. It will also save time and money.