Home should be a peaceful, enjoyable place, but sometimes clutter can compromise that ideal. If you’re feeling a bit stressed as you look around, this is a sign that it’s time to organize and simplify your space. Decluttering should also be a priority when you’re looking to move in with family or downsize to a more manageable apartment or townhouse.
Are you ready to start? Use this decluttering and organizing checklist to say goodbye to stuff weighing you down and hello to a more peaceful environment.
Organizing Tips for Seniors
Let’s start with some quick tips that will empower your decluttering efforts.
Take it one room at a time.
Trying to tackle your whole home at once can feel overwhelming, so break it up by room. Consider starting with a room with less clutter to gain momentum before moving on to more cluttered areas or storage rooms.
Follow the six-month rule.
As you sort through items and determine what to keep, don’t become stuck on the question: “Is there a chance I’ll need this at some point?” Instead, ask yourself: “Have I used this item in the past six months?” If not, consider whether that item is worth the space and energy it takes to hold onto it in case you need it in the future.
Choose the right destination for unwanted items.
When you decide you no longer need or want something, consider whether it belongs in the trash or deserves a second life with a new owner. Selling or donating is a great way to pass on useful, lightly used items, but if an item is heavily worn, broken, or otherwise lacks value, it’s time to toss it.
Call in some backup.
Especially when you feel stuck, calling in an assistant can make a big difference. A family member or friend can provide a fresh set of eyes and help you reimagine how to organize your space or think more critically about what you do and don't need.
Break the job up into manageable chunks of time.
Decluttering can be a big job, so it’s often helpful to break it up. As Nikki Bell, a professional organizer, points out, acquiring clutter takes time, and so does throwing it out. Her recommendation: “Schedule time to work on your home, set a timer, and applaud yourself at the end of each session.”
Talk to your family about heirlooms.
When it comes to items you want to pass down — especially those with sentimental value — it’s wise to talk to their intended recipients. Find out whether they actually want the items (and ensure they know that “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer). If they prefer to simply remember the item through a photo and not hold onto it, you may be better off selling or donating it (for antiques, consider donating to a local museum). If your loved one does want an heirloom, see if they want to take it now rather than later.
Decluttering and Organizing Checklist
Use this decluttering and organizing checklist to jumpstart the process of tidying your home.
Bedroom ClosetsExcess hangers
Clothes that don’t fit
Clothes that no longer match your style
Accessories you never or rarely use
Uncomfortable or rarely worn shoes
Linen ClosetsWorn-out towels
Excess washcloths or rags
Bedsheets beyond one extra set per bed
Stained or worn tablecloths
FurnitureEnd tables or other surfaces that collect clutter without serving a real purpose
Large furniture pieces that make your space feel crowded
Uncomfortable seating you don’t use
DecorWall hangings you no longer enjoy looking at
Excess knickknacks sitting on shelves or in a curio cabinet
Faded or worn artificial flowers
Holiday decor you no longer put out each year
Books and PapersDuplicate copies of books
Books you’ve read and won’t reread
Cookbooks you never consult
Old mail and paid bills
Outdated calendars or day planners
Tools and Hobby SuppliesFabric, yarn, or other craft supplies that no longer fit your personal style or future projects
Duplicate tools, such as tape measures, scissors, or screwdrivers
Rusted or broken tools
Kitchen ItemsExpired food items
Storage containers or lids that lack a match
Worn-out pots and pans, such as ones shedding their nonstick coating
Excess cups and coffee mugs
Tools and Hobby Supplies
(Be sure to follow proper disposal methods for medications. In Iowa, you can bring medications to pharmacies that participate in the “TakeAway” program.)Expired supplements and medications
Leftover prescription medication you no longer need after a procedure
Medications you cannot take due to an allergy or reaction
Organizing and Decluttering Services for Seniors
If you’re feeling lost during the decluttering process, you may be better off enlisting help from a professional. Even if you tackle decluttering alone or with a friend, you can benefit from professional organization services. Whether in your current house or a new home, an experienced organizer can help you make the most of your space, establish a system that makes sense, and create a peaceful environment.
If you live near one of our WesleyLife communities, reach out to the community for advice about decluttering services for seniors. Our team regularly refers new residents to professionals for these services to make their transition easier and would be happy to make a recommendation, even if you’re staying in your current home.
Want more tips for making the most of this exciting time in your life? Check out our guide, Living Your Best Life After 55!