There will come a day when you or the person charged with seeing after your estate will have to look at all the stuff in your house and try to figure out what to do with it.

For most people it won’t be easy. Letting go of a lifetime of possessions can be emotionally taxing. Some things can represent whole lives and dreams, says #b#Ellen Tozzi#/b#, owner of Natural Order Design, an organizational consulting firm based in Hamilton (

Tozzi has built a career for herself by helping people downsize their lives, often as the result of a move. She will present a free workshop, “Downsize Your Possessions with Ease,” on Tuesday, January 11, at 7 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. Visit

Tozzi came to professional organizing via the greeting card industry. She was attending Mercer County Community College when a friend asked if she wanted to earn a few bucks by packing Christmas cards at Lawrence-based Winslow Papers.

“I stayed on and moved up the ladder,” she says. “In two years I was running the company.” She later moved on to the Nelson Line, based in Moorestown. There she served as director of operations and marketing.

In her 20 years with those companies she wore every hat. She was involved in marketing, sales, bookkeeping, and business planning. This experience, she says, has convinced her that she is hard-wired to run a business. “It’s in my DNA,” she says, despite the fact that both of her parents held government jobs. “They liked to play it safe,” she says.

Tozzi offers a few tips:

#b#Reframe the way of looking at the process#/b#. Don’t look at downsizing as a chore, look at it as a treasure hunt.

#b#Take a picture#/b#. Photograph items before letting go of them to preserve the memory triggers.

#b#Avoid “just in case” mentality#/b#. Don’t keep items just in case you might need them “someday.”

#b#Ask yourself if you use it or love it#/b#. “If you don’t use it, lose it,” she says.

On her blog,, Tozzi discusses several ways to deal with clutter, including the main cause of most of it — paper.

We all have paper in our homes that should have gone out a long time ago. Some of it we need, much of it we do not.

Your tax papers, wills, insurance forms, and the like can stay around for a while (and Tozzi offers timeframes for how long to hang onto different types of papers).

Junk mail (which she also explains how to deal with) should never make it past the door.

Overall, she says, embracing the digital world should help you cut down on most of your paper problem.

“Ask yourself if, when you need certain information, would you immediately go to Google for the answer or would you reference your files,” she writes.

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