Downsizing - Moving from Clutter to Clarity

Clutter to Clarity

According to Lisa Sinnicks, there is a distinct difference between decluttering and downsizing and last week, courtesy of the Harrison-Park Age Friendly Initiative Committee and a Healthy Together Now Community Funding grant, Sinnicks gave an inspiring presentation entitled “Downsizing – Moving from Clutter to Clarity.”

Decluttering is “removing excess,” said Sinnicks, while downsizing is “eliminating items in your house to more efficiently use the space you have, sometimes in the anticipation of a move.”

In 2004, in response to her many years of working with the Manitoba Housing Authority, watching older adults struggle with moving in and out of the 55+ buildings she was responsible for as a Tenant Resource Coordinator, Sinnicks established the Winnipeg-based 'Seniors Moving Company.'

Sinnicks was enthusiastic and practical as she addressed a sizeable group at the Sandy Lake Drop-In Centre, with tips and hints and general advice, useful for clutterbugs, senior citizens or not.

Sometimes we have to deal with our 'stuff 'because we are moving, often into a smaller place, but sometimes not. Sometimes we have to help a family member deal with their 'stuff,' because they are moving or have, sadly, passed away.   Maybe you just need to create space in your home, and in your life, for something or someone more important.

No matter why you find yourself considering downsizing, there are experts and authors ready and willing to help.  What things do you firmly intend to keep?  What things can be given to family or friends?  What can be sold at an auction, estate sale or garage sale?   What can be donated to charities and what just needs to go to the dump?  All challenging questions and very difficult decisions for many.

Sinnicks recommends having packing supplies at your fingertips – cardboard boxes, large, heavy-duty contractor bags, packing tape and felt markers.  This process could take weeks or even months, but she encourages everyone wishing to simplify their lives to go step-by-step and be both pragmatic and practical.

Maybe you could start by paring down your wardrobe and then move on to sorting a lifetime of books, getting rid of accumulated paperwork and  selling or donating those old dining room chairs that you have kept, just in case, but have never used.  And, being optimistic, don't forget that someone's trash is another person's treasure!

To the gentlemen present, she directed, “Please go into your shop or garage ask yourselves the following question.  “How many screw drivers do I really need?”  (Not surprisingly, there was guilty-sounding chuckling).

What would be very difficult for most of us is sorting through and choosing to discard sentimental items.  But, there are ways and means and Sinnicks' offered some tips about these things, too – like photographing the item and storing the images on a jump drive -- which takes up a whole lot less space than boxes and boxes (and boxes) of ephemera.

For several of us in the audience, one of Sinnicks' most useful bits of advice was to make a list and tick things off as you go along, so that we recognize that we are making a 'dent in the pile” and will be inspired to do more by progress already made.

Another surprising tip is to gather things to be 'purged' into one place as, for example, we tend to keep clothing in many places throughout our homes and a pile, all in one place, can be quite shocking. How much do we really need?

Finally, as we move to being a society that reduces, reuses and recycles, there are many community boards on-line that facilitate selling or giving away what we no longer need.

There are also second hand stores in Erickson, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Dauphin and Brandon that are happy to take donations of gently used clothing and household articles – and others will benefit, so no great loss.

Speaking for myself, I keep a cardboard box in our front lobby. When I notice something I don't use any more, I put it in the box.  When the box is full, off to the Score Store it goes!

-article courtesy of Candy Irwin.