Downsizing can be a daunting experience. For starters, where on earth do you begin? Well, after downsizing twice, we’ve learned a few things about the process. Here are 8 tips on how to downsize your home before moving as well as a few tips on what NOT to do.
How to Downsize Your Home Before Moving
1 | Downsizing Starts with 2 Matters
Before you start decluttering for a downsize, know that the downsizing process starts with 2 main matters:
- Knowing your WHY.
Why are you downsizing? What is the reason and what are your goals?
- Knowing how much space you’ll have to keep your things.
Whether it’s a much smaller pantry, 2-car garage to 1-car, less drawers in the bathroom, a smaller living room layout, or less space for a dining table – you’ll need to identify all the ways in which you’ll have less space.
Knowing these 2 things are critical before you…
2 | Strategize Your Move.
This seems obvious, but starting with a plan will save you SO. MUCH. TIME. Strategizing your move – before, during, and after – will streamline your downsize.
Grab your pen and paper and write out your plan. Research has shown that writing things down makes our mind more efficient by helping us focus on what’s truly important.
Before you start decluttering for a downsize, write down a detailed plan:
- Define your WHY. The reason you’re motivated to downsize needs to be at the forefront of your mind. It will help you declutter faster and more easily since everything has to fit within that WHY. Related to your WHY, jot down your goals, needs, and priorities in your current season of life. Have this front and center while you’re downsizing. You could even re-read it before each decluttering session.
- Make a list of the rooms in your current place versus the rooms in your smaller home.
- List all the furniture pieces that you own.
- Map out what furniture will go in each room.
- List your available storage areas (attic, garage, basement, shed, etc.) and how you will utilize them in your smaller home. It’s important to define the purpose of these storage areas so they don’t become a catch-all or dumping ground for excess clutter. For example, “the attic is where we store bins of decorations and keepsakes” or “the shed is where we store tools and gardening supplies.” Instead of “the attic is where we throw all our random junk.”
- Clear a space to sort items into piles for donate, sell, etc. Use boxes, laundry baskets, or a section of a room to sort these piles.
Once you’ve written down the above items, you’ll be ready to dive into actually downsizing.
3 | Tackle the Big Stuff First.
And by “big stuff” I mean furniture, as well as any other large pieces that take up significant space like a grandfather clock or something.
The first time we downsized, we measured out the size of our smaller living room within our larger living room and then we chose the furniture we wanted to keep that fit within that space. Then we moved the furniture we were not going to keep to a different section of the house and listed it to sell.
If you don’t want to literally measure the physical space, you can simply approximate. Of course, this won’t be as exact so the margin of error is larger, but it works in some cases.
Say you own 3 sofas, but you estimate that your new space will only fit 1. We did this for our dining table since we knew without measuring that our current dining set, which was large and heavy, would not be a good fit for our smaller home. We sold the larger set to some friends in order to purchase a smaller, light-weight one.
This is where your list of available rooms, spaces, and furniture pieces that you wrote down will come in handy. You can compare your current space to the space in your smaller home.
As you tackle the furniture, make a list or a spreadsheet of items that you will sell, at what price point you’ll sell them, and where you will sell them (Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook groups, local consignment stores, OfferUp, etc.).
4 | Set a Donation Day or “D-Day.”
Since every move has inherent deadlines, setting your own personal deadlines is critical to reduce the feeling of overwhelm or chaos.
Set a day in your calendar of when you will take ALL the donations to the respective donation places. This creates a built-in deadline of when you MUST declutter by and when you also must get the clutter out of your house by. Otherwise, all the “maybes” will fill up the moving van and the loose ends won’t get tied up.
You’ll save yourself a LOT of hassle if you clear out and donate the clutter by a certain deadline that is before the actual move.
After all, decluttering does take time, but it shouldn’t take forever. Be sure to give yourself ample time, yet set a hard deadline.
5 | Minimize by Digitizing
A really great way to enjoy living with less is to DIGITIZE, my friend! There is so much technology at our fingertips (and even on our smartphones alone) that makes digitizing simple and easy!
Many people have gone completely paperless by utilizing software like EverNote or DropBox to store important documents. I once used a DoxieGo Scanner that I purchased secondhand on Ebay to digitize an entire storage bin full of childhood photos.
Managing paper clutter is a common household problem. It’s the clutter creep that keeps coming back and can be difficult to tame.
The 2 most simple ways to deal with paper clutter are:
- Dealing with mail as soon as it comes in the door.
Digitizing is also an easy solution to dealing with sentimental clutter.
6 | Recognize When You Get Stuck
Let’s be honest: Decluttering can be challenging.
You think you’re going to pare down your belongings and the next moment you find yourself surrounded by a huge mess, and thinking “huh, I never knew I had this random object, I wonder if I might need it someday?”
If you find yourself in this situation, recognize that you’re slowing down, getting distracted, or have gotten stuck in the decluttering process.
It’s okay. We’ve all been there.
Take a break. Have a snack. Go for a walk. Remind yourself of your WHY. Then turn on some energizing music and get back to decluttering.
To bust through a decluttering rut, try these 10 Tips to Declutter Faster.
7 | Try Reverse Decluttering.
Still stuck decluttering because you’re moving to a smaller house and decluttering a lifetime of belongings? Try reverse decluttering.
That is, declutter in reverse. Typically when people declutter they consider what they should get rid of.
Instead of focusing on what you should get rid of, focus on what you want to keep.
Filtering all of your belongings through this mindset can help you to just…
8 | Enlist help.
This last tip is to enlist help. Invite a friend over who will give you their honest opinion while you declutter your closet.
Or, if you have the means, you could:
- Hire a professional organizer. They can help you declutter, pack your belongings, and organize your new home.
- Rent a dumpster.
- Hire a junk removal service.
- Enlist a local teenager or college student to take your donations to the donation center. (They might also know someone who would like to take the stuff off of your hands.)
- Hire someone on TaskRabbit or Thumbtack to digitize and organize your photos.
What Not to Do When Downsizing Your Home for a Move
Now that you’ve got a clear path for how to downsize your home before moving, here are a few things that I personally recommend that you NOT do.
- Don’t “rage purge.” This is where you get rid of stuff because you’re angry and fed up with all the clutter and can’t take it anymore. Instead, take an objective, intentional, and focused approach. This is where it helps to make lists of what you truly need.
- Don’t shuffle clutter. This is to leave things undecided. If you need to TEMPORARILY put a few maybes into a box or bin, it can give you some extra time in case you’re afraid you’ll declutter something that you shouldn’t. HOWEVER! Everything CANNOT be a maybe.
- Don’t take too long to decide. Go with your gut and very first impression. If you have to take too long to decide on whether or not you need an item, it’s a sign that you don’t truly need it. If it’s useful, sell it or gift it to someone who will use it.
- Don’t purchase off-site storage. Challenge yourself to NOT purchase off-site storage. You’ll be faced with your clutter sooner or later. Not only does it cost money, but if it’s out of sight then it’s out-of-mind and it’s that much more difficult to declutter. If it’s in a storage unit and not in your actual home, you might not need it. If you needed it, it would be in your actual home. That said, I won’t tell you what to do. Instead, I’d like to suggest putting the undealt with items in a corner of your living room. It will be in front of you everyday, serving as a motivation to go through them.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Downsizing is hard. Heck, moving is hard (but moving IS slightly easier if you’re moving from a smaller place to a bigger one). Put downsizing and moving together and you’ve got quite the challenge. But don’t worry – you CAN do this! And if things take a bit longer or don’t go as planned, give yourself grace.
Go Forth and Conquer…the Clutter!
Hopefully some of these tips have given you tactical tools on how to downsize your home before moving. Now, go forth and conquer your clutter!