Downsizing and decluttering: Where to start and what to do with all that stuff!

It happens to all of us: If we live in one place long enough, we accumulate excess stuff. Clutter isn’t just a problem of overstuffed drawers and closets. It can also be stressful. If you plan to downsize and perhaps move to a shared living environment such as Vibrante Living, you may first need to purge decades of possessions. This can be an extremely freeing experience!

That’s one reason why professional tidier Marie Kondo is enormously popular. This decluttering guru has sold millions of books, translated into several languages, teaching people how to streamline and simplify their lives. In one interview, she explains that decluttering “captures the feeling of choosing only the things that spark joy for you.” She added, “We are beginning to give more attention to each item we own and determine the few things that truly matter.”

In other words: Decluttering can make you happy. It trains your mind to focus on what’s most important. As a bonus: Life becomes less complicated.

How to get started

  1. Take one task at a time. Decluttering can feel overwhelming, so don’t try to do it all at once. Maybe start with one drawer. Or, just your shoes. If it takes days, weeks or months, that’s okay. Think of how long it took to accumulate all this!

  2. Sort items into three categories: Keep, trash or give away. It’s hard to let go of some things. Don’t rush your decisions. Consider each item individually. Think quality versus quantity. Do you really need all those coats? When was the last time you used some of those serving pieces? Keep the things that make you happy or that you use frequently. Trash anything broken or worn out. Donate, sell or recycle things you haven’t used (or even seen!) in years. Ditto: anything that no longer fits or is out of style.

  3. Create a separate pile for things you can’t justify keeping but you aren’t ready to part with. Is there someone in your life who could really use one of these items? Would the young family down the street appreciate something that’s been gathering dust in your cabinet? Knowing that these special items will be well loved often makes parting with them easier. 

Where to donate items for the most good

You may already have a favorite thrift shop or nonprofit organization that will accept your “still good” items. If not, here’s a list of several to consider. Most are here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. You can also consult for a list of reputable charities near you.

● Accepts even unpaired shoes in good condition.

●      Arc’s Value Village: Accepts household items, clothes, kitchenware and appliances.

●      Bridging: Accepts artwork, clothing, appliances and other household items.

●      Leonardo’s Basement: Accepts tools, lumber and miscellaneous items collecting dust in the garage. 

●      Sharing and Caring Hands: Accepts electronics including TVs as well as clothing.

●      Tech Dump: Accepts old computers, printers, batteries and other electronic devices.

Remember: We’re anticipating having openings at Vibrante Living beginning in June 2020. That’s plenty of time to declutter so you’re fully prepared to enjoy the freedom of a downsized, simplified life!