Downsizing, Part I: Getting Started


Today we begin a three-part series on downsizing, a process that Professional Organizers are often called upon to assist with. Some clients downsize because their kids have flown the coop and they no longer need their big five-bedroom, three-bath house. Others reach a point in their lives where they just don't want the hassle of maintaining a big house and yard. And then there are those unfortunate souls who are forced to downsize because they can no longer live independently and must move into assisted living or nursing homes.

As we get older, keeping a handle on the volume of stuff we have in our homes is a challenge for even the most organized of families. And for families who have avid accumulators or chronically disorganized members, downsizing can feel downright overwhelming. Many of us have entered our parents' or grandparents' basements and asked, "What IS all of this stuff, and why are they keeping it?" Heck, you may have asked that very question about your own basement or garage.

If you are considering downsizing in the future, start now to take control of and responsibility for your belongings. Let go of what isn't serving you, what is broken, or what has negative feelings associated with it. Keep what you love, what has warm memories, and what serves your life in a positive way. Just make sure there will be room in your future smaller home for the items you decide to keep.

Here a few tips to help you or a family member get started:

  • Take one room at a time (or even one drawer at a time) and begin to set aside items that you don't use or don't love. Keep reminding yourself that your future home will be filled with only those items that add value to your life.
  • If you think a particular friend or relative would enjoy an item more than you, put a sticky note on it with their name. Later, call that person to confirm that they want the item. If they don't, add the item to your charity or sell pile.
  • If you have a consignment shop nearby, go ahead and take a few resalable items over and open up an account. Then, as you systematically go through the downsizing process, it will be quick and easy to drop things off. Also, most consignment stores can help you arrange pick up and delivery of larger pieces of furniture for resale. Before you know it, you'll start receiving consignment checks.
  • Throw away items that are broken and can't be easily and inexpensively fixed. Please resist the urge to keep broken items because you may use them later for "spare parts."
  • Start a donation box for your favorite charity.
  • Consider having a yard sale but know that this is a time-consuming, physically exhausting endeavor.
That's enough to at least inspire you to get started. I'll be providing more specific information about donation sources, consignment, Craig's list, and Ebay in Parts II and III of this series.

2 comments:

~Katie~ said...

Hi! If you join www.freecycle.org for your city you can offer your unwanted items and others will come pick them up!

Suellen said...

Thanks, Katie! Be on the lookout for Part II of Downsizing where we'll be talking about ways to donate items no longer wanted. Freecycle is definitely on the list. Then in Part III of Downsizing, we'll discuss ways to make a little dough on the stuff that can be resold.