Most of us know that there will come a day when we will have to downsize for one of many reasons: to simplify our lifestyle, to cut costs, to be closer to someone we love, or to address medical needs.

This process inevitably involves some elements of uncertainty, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Ten Tips to Make Downsizing More Manageable:

1. Start Early. Take your time; don’t try to sort through your entire house in one day or weekend. A couple of weeks to a month is a more manageable timeline. Work on one room at a time, and take breaks. Downsizing to be much less stressful if you aren’t rushed.

2. Start Small. You can probably already think of things you want to get rid of in the kitchen or garage, but avoid beginning with a big room. Instead, start in an area with little emotional attachment. The utility room or linen closet are good options.

3. Organize Backwards. Try first packing the items that have the most emotional and practical value. Most of the items that are left can be sold or donated.

4. Get Rid of Duplicates. You’ll find this is especially true in your kitchen. You may have two or three spatulas and ladles, a couple of oversized stock pots, and four different sized cookie sheets. Now’s the time to reduce the clutter! If you’re feeling wary of handing off that second roasting pan because you use it during holidays, consider giving it to a relative or friend who can bring it over for the holiday and take it home when they leave.

5. Make Yes and No Piles, but NO Maybe Pile. One easy way to decide whether you should keep an item is to ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is yes, keep it! If not, let it go! You might be tempted to make a third pile of things to keep if you have space, then you will end up with a Maybe pile that’s bigger than either of the other two. When that happens, you haven’t really made any progress in sorting, just moved it across the room!

6. Be Creative with Your Collections. Have some high-resolution photographs taken of your collection and make them into a coffee-table book that you can share with your family and guests. This will take up less space, and the memories of your collection will be preserved! Then, you can gift them, sell them, or donate them!

7. Don’t be afraid to sell your belongings! There are so many ways to connect with the people who are looking for gently used belongings: Nextdoor, Craigslist, Etsy, eBay, yard sales and consignment stores are all good options. If you’re not super technologically savvy, one of the youngsters will probably be happy to help! 

8. Consider Legacy Gifts Early. If there is a beautiful set of porcelain or an antique clock you’ve been planning to pass on to someone you care about, there’s no time like the present! Watching your belongings bring others joy is an added benefit to paring down the items in your life. 

9. Take Time to Reminisce. While you’re cleaning and sorting, there will be some days when you want to stop emptying and mull over old memories. It’s OK to pause and let the nostalgia take over for a bit. This is the point of starting early; just don’t let your emotions prevent you from eventually getting the job done.

10. Use the Process as an Opportunity to Connect. Invite friends or family over for a “snack and pack”. Talk to the young ones about where you bought your favorite trinkets. Tell them about you heirlooms. Let them help pack, ask questions, and spend time with you. Get help posting items for sale online. This can be one more moment you share in the house you’ve loved — before you start to make new memories in your next home. Remember that it’s your relationships that you cherish most, not the stuff around you.