My Secret Downsizing Tool

​What holds you back from going full-time? Besides concerns over income, having to downsize is probably the next most frequent answer.

And yeah, I get that. My wife and I were both raised as packrats. Don't need something right now? Put it away somewhere,  because "you might need it someday."

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So now we're learning that odds are, we'll never need it. And if we do, we probably can't remember where we stored it, so it doesn't end up being all that useful after all. Realizing that is helping us get rid of a lot of "stuff."

But besides regular "stuff" we have all that sentimental stuff. A friend once told us that when a "normal" person looks in her cupboard, she sees 12 coffee mugs. When a packrat looks in the cupboard, she sees 12 memories. Oh man, are we ever in that latter category.

Fortunately, we've found a way to hold on to the memories, yet get rid of the physical "stuff." And we did it using an unsuspecting tool: Evernote.

Evernote is a digital organizer. I've used Evernote for years to store reference material, project notes, and even my "to do" list. Now, we are using it to hold memories and let go of physical objects. How?

When we find those sentimental objects that we are hanging onto for the sole purpose of retaining the memories associated with them, we take a picture of the object. We can do this right from within Evernote. Then we store it in a "Scrapbook" folder, and possibly add a tag to indicate if it's related to one of our children. If the mood strikes us, we'll also add a few notes about the memories associated with the object.

Now, you may wonder if a picture is as good as the original object. Surprisingly, I've found that it's actually better! Why? ​

​With the physical object, memories are invoked when we see the object. Often, the object is stored away somewhere, so we only see it when we're organizing the storage room or looking in boxes. If we remember an item and want to see it, we have to dig through boxes looking for it.

Now, however, we have a collection of pictures that we can access any time. If we're feeling sentimental, we can just flip through the Scrapbook notebook in Evernote and readily see these items. And we can use Evernote's powerful search features to quickly retrieve the picture of any item we remember and want to look at.

So we still have the memories. But by not hanging on to the physical items, we don't have to plan on hauling boxes of junk around the country with us. We won't have to rent a storage shed. And if we choose to have a "home base" sticks and bricks home, it can be smaller, since it will only be filled with items we use and love, and not "stuff" that we're hanging onto for sentimental reasons.

Want to see other ways to use Evernote? Check out my free guide:

How do you deal with sentimental objects?​ Please leave a comment below and let us know!

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