Downsizing your home is the best way to remove clutter from your life. It is also the best way to take stock in the things that are important in your life. But, where do you begin when it comes to downsizing? More importantly, what is the best way to efficiently remove clutter from your house?
There are many ways to downsize your home. From cleaning out the back of closets to stripping your home of the bare essentials – you have options! It is also important to remember that many people are downsizing their home because they are moving.
Moving to a smaller place means having to let go of stuff that just won’t fit. So whether you are trying to remove clutter or are downsizing to a smaller place, we have your back. Here are our best tips for efficiently downsizing your home.
1) Start Sooner Than You Think
One of the main reasons why people feel chained to their stuff is because they have simply run out of time to sort it. We have all been there. That last minute panic to pack and move leaves us with more junk than we have room for. This is why our first tip to downsizing the right way is to give yourself plenty of time.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to wait until you have a new place to start downsizing. Downsizing can start as soon as the idea pops in your head.
This way you not only have enough time to plan for the move but also have enough time to execute your plan.
What if you don’t end up moving?
If you worry about getting rid of stuff only to find that you are not able to move, don’t fear! Downsizing doesn’t mean getting rid of stuff that you have an emotional attachment to.
Chances are if you were able to get rid of things, you didn’t actually need them anyhow. At the end of the day even if you don’t move, living with less clutter is always a good thing.
How Soon Should You Start Downsizing?
It is a good idea to start planning for your downsizing as soon as you are able. This means that you will have to put a plan in motion. Scheduling time to clean out your home will be vital. Make sure to give yourself enough time to go through your possessions and make some tough decisions.
However, it is important to keep your moving timeline in mind. If you know that your move is months away, try not to get rid of things that make life easier where you live now. While you may not be able to take your larger furniture with you, you shouldn’t get rid of it right away. Start downsizing the things you won’t miss first. This way you are not left with a bare home.
2) Take Baby Steps
Some people like to jump into the deep end feet first without thinking. Spontaneity has its place in the world but isn’t the best when it comes to downsizing. This is especially true when it comes to getting rid of your things. We as humans make emotional attachments to our stuff.
This is because we spend our hard-earned money on our things and like to know that this money hasn’t been wasted. Also, it is easy to make emotional attachments to our stuff when it evokes special memories. One of the biggest problems people have when downsizing is not wanting to let go.
This is a perfectly normal reaction and not one that you need to be ashamed of. One way to dip your toe into the waters of downsizing is to take it slow and steady. Baby steps are a vital part of adjusting to the idea of downsizing. This will also help to make you more comfortable with getting rid of some of your stuff.
Where Should You Begin?
Knowing where to start when it comes to downsizing is half the battle.
You don’t want to jump right into to those precious boxes of memories that you have held onto for decades. Instead, start small with something that is easier for you to sort through.
Clothing is a great place to start. This is because while many of us enjoy shopping, we don’t have as much emotional attachment to those 15 pairs of jeans. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t run into precious clothing items. Clothes that have special importance don’t have to go to the downsizing pile. But, it might be time to retire some of those old t-shirts that have been collecting dust.
3) No Need For Multiples (And Backup!)
One key to downsizing is to recognize something in your life that can be reduced. One great way to do this is to find things in your home that are multiples. While it is okay to duplicates of certain things that will make life easier, generally one of each thing is enough.
One area that tends to have a ton of multiples is dishware.
It is important to remember that if you are moving to a smaller home, you will have less space. This is especially evident in the kitchen.
A good rule of thumb is to downsize your dishware to just one set per person (unless you don’t want to do the dishes daily).
One dishware set typically includes a set of 4 plates, bowls and side dishes. If you tend to host a lot, you can keep a couple of back up plates for guests. This not only will help to reduce clutter in the kitchen but can help keep you organized and clean.
Where Else Can You Find Multiples?
Every room in your home will have something that you can reduce to just one. Walking from room to room will help to give you a sense of where things can be de-cluttered.
Clothing, books, and toys are a great place to look for multiples.
It is also important to mention that multiples don’t mean two of the same thing. Multiples can be more than one thing in the same category. Think of your home like a toolbox.
While you need wrenches, you don’t four of the same sized wrench. Once you recognize the basics you are in a much better position to cut the excess clutter.
4) Know Where You Are Moving To
You can’t fit 5 lbs of sand into a 2 lb bag. This same logic can easily be applied to where you are moving to.
While there are plenty of economic benefits to downsizing, they aren’t the main reason why people do it. Some people don’t choose to downsize but have to.
This is because they are moving to a smaller home.
Knowing how much space your house has will put you in a great position to downsize. One thing to keep in mind is how many rooms your new home will have. If you are moving from a 3 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom home, you will need to reevaluate what you can bring.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you might not have the same luxuries that you do in your current home. For example, your home now may have a dining room while your new home may an eat-in kitchen.
This means that you no longer have room for your 10-person dining table and will have to downsize to smaller furniture.
How Can You Reduce Your Stuff By Room?
Knowing that you will have far less space should inspire you to find unique ways to downsize. A great way to help you downsize is to literally see how much you need to get rid of.
The best way to do this is to clear out a room in your current home and try to fill it.
Instead of filling this room with things you need, try to slowly fill it with things you no longer have a need for. Having one room full of things that you are not going to bring with you will put you in a great position to downsize.
If you find that you rarely have to go into that room looking for something important, you have done your job right!
5) Turn Clutter Into Profit!
Sometimes it can be hard to find motivation for downsizing. This is because downsizing is a huge undertaking that can take several months. One great motivation for downsizing is money.
Just because you won’t be able to enjoy your extra stuff doesn’t mean that someone else can’t!
Turning your unwanted goods into profit is a great way to not only downsize but to also save for the future. This can help with payments on your new home as well as any special furnishes you may need. While this may seem like extra work, it is a great way to encourage you to look at your things with a fresh eye.
What Are Some Ways You Can Sell Your Stuff?
Knowing you want to sell your stuff and having a way to sell them are two different stories. It should be noted that in order to make a profit, you will have to put the work in. Here are some of the best ways to sell your unwanted clutter:
Upcycling is a fairly new concept that has caught fire since the era of social media. The idea is to take old things and make them new again. Buyers are always on the lookout for repurposed furnishings for their home. This can be anything from old wood turned into beautiful tables or broken bikes transformed into garden planters. Using your imagination when looking through your clutter will be key.
Perhaps the most popular way to get rid of stuff for profit is to open a yard sale. But, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make it profitable. You have to remember that people visit yard sales looking for a deal. This is why it is important to competitively price your stuff and be open to bargaining.
Also, check your local papers to see which days would be best. Scheduling your yard sale when there are others in your area will bring you more traffic. The more people you get to your sale, the more profit you can potentially make.
Using social media to sell your stuff is a great resource. This not only allows you to reach your friends but people across your community as well. Outlets like Facebook Marketplace are great for quick listings of larger items that you are looking to get rid of.
Another way to utilize social media for selling your stuff is to take part is “closet cleaning parties”. These are online events that are run across platforms like Instagram and Twitter that use hashtags like #shopmycloset to get visibility. People can browse your items for sale by searching the hashtag. This is a great way to extend your reach past your local community.
6) Rent A Storage Unit
One of the biggest problems people run into when downsizing is second-guessing their decisions. Sure, you don’t use that waffle iron now, but what about further down the road?
We all hang onto unused things with the hope that one day we might need it. But, is the stuff we hang onto just taking up space?
While it is impossible to predict the future, there is a way to “test-drive” getting rid of your stuff!
One solution you have is to rent a small storage unit. This way you can slowly pack away stuff you don’t use and see if you miss it. The old saying “out of sight out of mind” is key to this process.
Not only can using a storage unit to sort through old junk help you downsize, but it can also help you stay organized as well. One reason why people tend to quit half-way through the process is that they have simply run out of space. Having a separate area to keep things you are planning on donating can help to organization process go so much smoother.
Is Renting A Storage Unit Worth The Cost?
One thing to note is that renting a storage space will come at a cost. However, since it will only be limited to things you don’t need, you won’t need to rent a large space.
Smaller scale units on average cost around $25 a month. If you are planning on the downsizing process only taking a few months, this is a small cost to swallow.
You also have to think about what you will be gaining from using a separate space. You will not only be able to have a place to store things, but you will also have the peace of mind knowing that you are giving your stuff a second glance.
If at the end of the process you find that you have downsized your junk by at least 25%, the process was a success!
For more information on how to properly store your stuff in rental units check out this article for tips!
7) Make Room For Memories
One common mistake people make when downsizing is getting rid of their stuff too quickly. Sometimes the struggle to downsize leads to precious memories getting tossed aside. One thing to remember is that downsizing doesn’t mean you can’t hold onto the things that really matter to you.
This is why it is so important to make room for your memories.
Make A Plan
The best way to ensure that you are holding onto things that really matters is to designate a space in your home for things that deserve a second glance.
Set up boxes with specific sorting ideas in mind.
Have a box for things that are really special, things that have sentimental value and things you are on the fence about.
There has been so much talk about only holding onto things that bring your joy. But, joy can be relative. This is because each person defines joy in their own terms. So, what does joy mean to you? More importantly, what is the things that you can absolutely not part with? Once you know where you draw the line it is easier to find areas that can be downsized.
While each person is different, here are some of the common special things that you shouldn’t feel forced to part with:
- Photo albums
- Special occasion clothing
- (Excessive) baby mementos
- Childhood memories
- Special Purchases
- Keepsakes and mementos
It is also important to understand the emotional connection that your partner may have to their stuff. It is important to factor in everyone’s personal mementos when downsizing a home.
The more people you have in your household, the more things you will need to carry over with you.
8) Live In The Digital Age
One great thing about downsizing in the 21st century is that we now have the technology to back up certain things that matter to us.
Using digital backups can help you to still hang on to things that are important to you while not having to drag them around.
One thing that we all have a hard time parting with are those boxes of pictures sitting in boxes in the back of our closets. In the digital age, we have far less use for these types of photographs. We’re able to save photos that we like and quickly print photos that we need.
So, why hang on to hard copies?
Converting old photographs into digital files is a great way to cut down on the clutter. You can store thousands of photos on a single drive which eliminates the need for bulky photo albums. Also, using digital files is a great way to stay organized.
You can quickly find and print the file you need without having to dig through a single box.
Digital files are not only great for photographs either! You can make digital copies of videos, receipts, and even important documents. It is a good rule of thumb to digitally back up as much as you can in order to downsize. Keep in mind, that while you can digitize old photographs, you don’t have to get rid of the truly special ones.
Even if you are able to cut what you half down to half, you are on the right track!
9) All Hands On Deck!
Perhaps the best tip for downsizing your home is to realize when it is time to ask for help. We tend to get caught up in the need to get rid of our stuff that it is easy to get tunnel vision.
Having someone to help you along the way is a great resource to help keep you on track.
If you are moving more than just yourself, make sure that everyone involved is part of the process. You can quickly sort through stuff more efficiently when you have an extra set of eyes. Also, since it won’t only be your stuff you will be downsizing, having someone else there is vital.
Are you moving on your own without a support system?
One way to streamline the downsizing process is to use the help of professionals. We hire people to help move and store our stuff, so why not someone who has experience with downsizing?
There are plenty of professional organizers out there who are more than willing to lend a hand to get you on the right track.
However, remember that this will come at a cost. But, having a professional can help to take some of the pressure off of you!
Wrapping It Up!
Downsizing doesn’t have to be all work and no play. When done correctly, downsizing a home can leave you with a great sense of accomplishment. However, downsizing does much more than just free up some space. A cluttered house often is linked to a cluttered mind.
By relieving your home of unneeded stuff, you are helping to cleanse not only your house but your life as well. Being organized is a great way to relieve everyday anxieties. This allows you to not only live in a clean space but have a clean state of mind as well.
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.