Essential Tips for Downsizing


There are so many books, blogs, and articles on downsizing, it can be confusing to know where to start. Many people delay downsizing because it can be an overwhelming process. For some it might be an emotional journey to sort through a lifetime of accumulated possessions. Margit Novak, a leader in the Senior Move Management Business says, “The key to downsizing is not finishing the process; it’s starting it.” Most downsizing specialists will tell you it is wise to start earlier than you think you need to. 

Here are some helpful downsizing tips to get you started:

  1. Start with why- identify your goals and be realistic.  Why are you downsizing? Write down your goal and refer to it for motivation and inspiration.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time! – Start early. This is a process. It will likely take more time than you expect. If you wait until it’s urgent and you are rushed, it will be more stressful.
  3. Make a strategic plan- Start small, drawer by drawer, room by room. Start in a room with less emotional attachment, such as the laundry room. Avoid starting in a large or complicated space. Adopt the concept of Use it, Love it, or Lose it.
  4. Reprioritize what is important to you. Clutter amounts to postponed decisions.
  5. Sort and pack belongings- Label boxes or tubs- Keep, Sell, Donate or Share, Trash.
  6. Let it go- Get rid of the “But I paid good money for it” attitude. Hanging on to it can be more of a burden. It has been said that if you need to buy more stuff just to organize your existing stuff, then maybe you own too much stuff.
  7. Think again- the reality is that your kids most likely don’t want most of your possessions.
  8. Get rid of duplicates, how many spatulas do you really need?
  9. Reduce collections- Keep your favorites, take a photo of the rest and let them go.
  10. Only make yes or no piles. There should be no maybe piles, because then you’ll just have to sort the maybe pile again later creating more work for yourself.
  11. Ways to sell things- Craigslist, Ebay, Consignment Shops, Facebook Sales- Buy, Sell, Trade Groups, or Yard Sales.
  12. Consider legacy gifts early- Antiques and family heirloom pieces can be given early.
  13. Allow yourself time to reminisce. Take advantage of technology. Take digital photos of the items you let go of.
  14. Repurpose items- an armoire might become kitchen or bathroom storage.
  15. Get help if you need it. Hire a move manager to assist.

What does a Move Manager Do?

A Move Manager will …

  • Help create an overall move plan.
  • Help with decisions on what to move, sell, and/or donate.
  • Help you declutter your home, sort through your belongings, and organize items that you want to sell, toss, or donate.
  • Get appraisals of personal property to sell items via auction, estate sale, buy-out or consignment.
  • Arrange for donation drop-offs and pick-ups.
  • Arrange for professional appraisal of antiques and other valuables.
  • Ship heirlooms to family and friends and/or arrange for storage.
  • Provide estate sale and liquidation services.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist says that instead of asking if your belongings “spark joy” we should ask “does it help me fulfill a greater purpose with my life?” If you feel you can’t get rid of something because you’re emotionally attached to it, box it up for three months and if you didn’t miss it, get rid of it. Most people usually wish they had started downsizing earlier. Spend less time on chores and more time enjoying life.  An organized, clutter free home is the reward for all your hard work and when it’s time to downsize, you’ll be ready!

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