clothes on hangers

Downsizing can seem like a daunting task. It’s the dreaded “D” word people wish to avoid and often put off for as long as they can. And it can feel overwhelming - it may be hard to know where to begin and how to create a plan.

If you’re thinking about downsizing, rest assured that there are many downsizing resources available, from helpful hints to helping hands. Whether you’re thinking of getting started or need some tips to stay on track, here are five ways to simplify downsizing.  

Downsizing Tip #1: Break it Down

Trying to tackle the whole house when downsizing can feel overwhelming. It’s a good idea to break things down into smaller, easier to accomplish tasks.  

Start with a drawer, then a closet, then a room, and so on until the job is complete. Breaking it down into smaller tasks will keep you motivated and feeling accomplished all the way through.

To make sure you stick to working toward your goals, set an appointment on your calendar; just as you wouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment or meeting a friend for lunch, setting aside time allows you to plan ahead and stick with it.

Downsizing Tip #2: Make Three Piles

As you go through your items, decide if the item is one you will a) keep, b) donate, give away, sell or c) throw away. This sounds straightforward, yet as you’re going through your belongings it’s hard to distinguish what goes where. It’s helpful to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. Has this item been used in the past year?

  2. Does this item still fit my lifestyle?

  3. Do I need this item?

  4. Will I think about this item once it’s gone?

If the answer to all of these questions is ‘no’, you’re probably ready to find another home for that item.

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Downsizing Tip #3: Create a System

A labeling system helps to easily identify which items are being kept, donated, given away or sold.

Many people use color-coded sticky dots to categorize their items; for example, red=keep, blue=donate, yellow=give away, green=sell.  There are many ways to customize and create your own system, so find what makes sense to you.

Downsizing Tip #4: Ask for Help 

Downsizing can feel much less daunting when you have additional hands on deck. Don’t be afraid to contact a professional to help you get started and stay on track. They’re experts, know the strategies that work best, and can offer camaraderie and support.

Additionally, they can do the heavy lifting for you and know who to call if you want to make a donation or arrange an estate sale.

Downsizing Tip #5: Stay Positive

Downsizing is hard work. Keep smiling and thinking positively, and tell yourself that you can get through this! The joy and relief that you’ll feel will outshine the struggles.

Once you've narrowed down your belongings to just the items that you truly cherish and use, you’ll feel liberated and be able to think and live with more clarity.

The hardest part of downsizing can be knowing where to start and staying on track. Before you begin and throughout the process, remind yourself of why you’re doing it and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel once complete.  

Thinking About Downsizing?

Does downsizing seem like the right option for you, but you’re not sure how to get started? Download our free guide to find what to keep and what to donate, advice from best-selling author Marie Kondo, 10 tips from an interior designer and more. 

Free Guide: Do's and Don'ts of Downsizing 

What do you keep and what do you give away? Our 'Do’s and Don’ts of Downsizing' guide will help you get started.

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