People in Sweden Are Now Doing Pre-Death Cleaning

Döstädning, which means “death cleaning” in English, is a new method of downsizing and organizing from the Swedish author and artist Margareta Magnusson. The approach is designed as an easy way for people over 50 to purge their homes and organize their possessions in hopes that their children won’t be overburdened by their belongings once they pass away. Magnusson’s upcoming book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, will be available in January. Here’s what we know so far:

 1. It’s not just for people over 50. Every person should definitely begin death cleaning after 50, but the idea can work for all ages.

 2. It should be a slow and ongoing process. It should be seen as a lifestyle change-not a period of intense purging.

 3. You should vocalize your intentions. Tell your friends and family about your plans, so they can hold you accountable.

 4. Gift your unwanted items. When you drop by a friend’s house, bring them a few books you don’t want.

 5. Start with your closet. It’s less emotionally taxing to get through. Begin there and perhaps you’ll feel motivated to tackle other parts of your home.

 6. It’s very therapeutic. Death cleaning isn’t about dying. It’s about looking back on your life and only keeping what’s important.

 7. You should reward yourself, but not with more stuff. After you finish organizing an area or part of your life, treat yourself to a movie, manicure, or delicious meal-not a trip to your favorite store.