Many seniors in Canada are choosing — or needing — to downsize in their retirement. Regardless of the circumstances, moving is always challenging. Downsizing is particularly tricky because we slowly acquire more and more stuff over the years and don’t realize how much is there until we try to fit it all into moving boxes — and then a two-bedroom condo. To help the process go as smoothly as possible, we’ve assembled the top five mistakes to avoid when downsizing.

1. Packing at the last minute.

Sorting, packing, and everything else involved in the moving process takes time — far more time than most people realize. Don’t assume you can do it all at the last minute. Moving is stressful under the best circumstances, but it’s even worse when you’re frantically packing at the last possible moment.

2. Trying to downsize all of your stuff at once.

You never realize how much stuff you have until it’s time to move. If you think you might be downsizing soon, start sorting things now. Take your time. Pick one box or one small area of your home and sort through it each day. Even sorting and decluttering a couple small areas per week will mean that you’ll have less to do when moving day comes around.

3. Immediately downsizing following major life events.

There are times when you have no choice but to downsize following a significant life event. If at all possible, though, stay in your familiar environment for at least a few months after any significant changes in your life. This is particularly important following the death of a spouse or partner. Allow yourself (or your loved one) the room to grieve from the comfort of familiar surroundings.

4. Keeping too many things that “might” be useful someday.

Are you the person who has a backup kettle, just in case the first one breaks someday? Maybe you keep all the extra nails from your build-at-home furniture, “just in case.” Unless it’s something irreplaceable, you probably don’t need to keep things on-hand for the tiny possibility that a few years from now, you’ll wish you had it. Just about anything you might need in the future will be available used for very little money. Let it go.

5. Going through the downsizing process alone.

Regardless of your relationship status or family ties, downsizing is tough. Trying to do it all alone, however, is even more difficult. Sometimes it’s most helpful to involve someone else in the process. Choose carefully, though, as you don’t want someone who’ll push you to part with beloved treasures or someone who’ll encourage you to keep it all. Find someone who’ll be supportive — but can also remind you that those magazines from 2005 probably aren’t worth saving.

Overall, take your time when downsizing. It’ll be an emotional process, and that’s ok. If you can learn to embrace the change and get started on the prep as early as possible, you can avoid a downsizing disaster.

Will you be downsizing in the future? Have you downsized already? Tell us your biggest headache — and how you could have avoided it — in the comments below.