Of course, sometimes simplifying isn’t all that simple. When you have years or even decades of stuff accumulated, just getting started can feel like an overwhelming chore. Fortunately, we’re here to help. With these seven tools you could be well on your way to the cozy space of your dreams.

  1. A Plan. You might not think of a plan as a tool, but trust us — without one, your downsizing exercise could be significantly more difficult. It should include four elements: a plan for decluttering, a plan for moving, a budget and a timeline. Are you going to use the Marie Kondo decluttering method, or will you stick with a simple Keep/Sell/Toss method? Are you going to book movers, or will you be renting a box truck? Can you hire an interior designer or an organizational expert to steer you in the right direction? Will you be packing up over a few months, or will you cram it all into a single weekend? Take some time to write down what you’re going to do and when, and post it somewhere conspicuous.
  2. A Measuring Tape. As you sort through your belongings, take measurements of the items you want to keep, especially larger pieces like furniture. Having accurate dimensions of your possessions can help you visualize them in your new place — or help you figure out in advance if they will be too large for your new space.
  3. An Interior Layout. Once you have dimensions of the items you want to keep, it’s time to see how they’ll work in your new place. Use a floor plan to arrange furniture, lamps, TVs and bookshelves on paper before your move. Not only will that be easier on your back, you can tell if something will work in your new space before you pay to have it moved — which could save you some money! If you don’t have a floor plan, you can go old-school with graph paper, a pencil and the aforementioned measuring tape, or you can use a computer program like Floorplanner to rearrange the living room virtually.
  4. A Computer. Your computer could help you downsize in multiple ways. For starters, you can use it to plan your space using a floor plan tool. You can search on the Internet to find real estate agents, moving companies, interior designers and even decluttering experts! And you can use your email program to consolidate all your correspondence with the people you hire to help. You can even use your computer to make some extra downsizing cash by selling items you don’t want to keep on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
  5. Scrapbooks. If you’ve been in the same place for decades, odds are that you have a lot of memories in the form of photographs, playbills, date-night ticket stubs, newspaper clippings and so on. Take this opportunity to consolidate and organize all those memories into a few scrapbooks you can keep on a bookshelf. Having these special moments consolidated into a few easy-to-peruse scrapbooks could not only save you some space; it could actually help preserve them for a long time to come.
  6. A Document Shredder. As you’re going through old photos and documents, not everything you come across is going to be scrapbook-worthy. As you’re deciding which ones to keep and which ones to toss, consider investing in a document shredder to dispose of anything that contains personal information. Taking a few extra minutes to shred your paperwork instead of simply tossing it in the trash could help protect you from identity theft.
  7. Packing Materials. Once you’ve decluttered your old space, sold everything fit to sell and figured out what you want to take to your new digs, you’ll need to get everything to your new place in one piece! Plan on budgeting for boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap for your delicate items, like plates and cups, and moving blankets and padding for your larger pieces. Once you’re done with your packing materials, consider donating them to someone else looking to downsize. After all, you don’t want to clutter up your new place with boxes and moving blankets you no longer need!

For more downsizing advice, check out 6 Tips for Maximizing Space When You Downsize Your Home.

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