Sort It Out

Advice for starting the process of downsizing.

Photo courtesy of American Public Television

Mike, Jaime and Matt find a 44-star flag in art collector Lenis Northmore’s home.

Experts Mike Kelleher and Jamie Ebanks help Matt Paxton display a 44-star flag found in art collector Lenis Northmore’s home.

1.  Downsizing is like weight loss. We know we need to do it. Start sorting 10 minutes a night. Go through drawers, boxes, and pictures, items that really matter. Do this consistently for five nights a week.

2.  Sort through photos—the hardest thing for people to let go—and get rid of duplicates and landscapes if you don’t know where they are. If there are no people in the picture or you don’t know the name of anyone, get rid of it. 

3.  Get realistic about your clothes. If you are a size 36, you can let go of clothes that you have that are a 28, for example. One way to do that is to have a fashion show once a year. If everybody laughs at your clothes or you can’t get them on, get rid of them. Or, on January 1, turn hangers one way. When you wear the item, turn the hanger. “I know by the way the hanger is turned what clothes I have worn,” says Paxton.

4.  Focus on donating items you don’t need and that are in nice shape. 

5.  For widows and widowers, downsizing goes at the griever’s pace. Sometimes the item stays because it carries future stories or it makes the person happy. So many times family members or friends try to push a widow or widower into a decision they are not ready for. You will know when it’s time to let go. 

For more about Matt Paxton and downsizing, please see Hidden Treasures.

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