Downsizing is the process of removing clutter from your home and life, retaining only the things most important to you. There are many reasons to downsize your life and home, including freeing yourself from debt, reducing your carbon footprint, and allowing yourself the freedom to travel. In some cases, we are forced to downsize due to finances, family situations, or lifestyle changes. Whatever your reason for downsizing, it is rarely an easy process to go through, either emotionally or logistically. It is, however, frequently liberating and self-affirming. Here are some hints on how to navigate this significant transition.
Consider your Next Move
While some people choose to downsize without moving their residence, in many cases, downsizing involves moving to a smaller home. When choosing where to move, it can be beneficial to take your time to decide how and where you want to live. It’s important to consider the practical aspects of your choice. How much space will you need to be comfortable? What style of home will be easiest to navigate? What amenities might be helpful to your lifestyle and future needs? Are there extra costs, such as HOA fees, associated with your new living arrangements?
Emotional considerations should be taken into account as well. It’s often helpful to determine what you want this new phase of your life to look like before you downsize. Some people may choose to move closer to friends and family, others may take the opportunity to explore new ways of living, and still others may return to a favorite town or city from their past.
Reducing Physical Clutter
Downsizing your life and home often starts with reducing physical clutter and the amount of stuff you live with by eliminating unused or unneeded items. Keep only those that are practical to you or bring you great joy. Here are some tips on how to determine which items to keep and which will go on to the next phase of their journey.
- Evaluate the sustainability of items—Consider whether or not the item is costing you more than its value to you. Items that require regular upgrades, maintenance, or insurance may fall into this category.
- Make a list of the things you use regularly—In the days and weeks before decluttering, make a list of the things that you are using on a regular basis.
- Take it one room or area at a time—Don’t try to declutter the entire home at once. Take it one closet, room, or area at a time to keep yourself from burning out.
- Minimize your wardrobe—Consider your lifestyle going forward. Choose a few favorite and durable items and get rid of clothing that you rarely or never wear.
- Start by getting rid of items that take the least thought—It may be tempting to start by purging sentimental but impractical items but getting rid of things that aren’t emotionally charged is not only easier, but it may also leave more room for your sentimental items.
What to do with purged items:
Not all the items that you purge from your home need to be destined for the waste bin. Objects that you can’t keep may still spark joy for others. Consider giving sentimental items that you don’t need, or that are too large to family or friends who may also treasure them. Having a yard or garage sale or selling objects online can help recoup some of your costs while providing a new home for items that you can’t keep. Other gently used items can be dropped off at your local Goodwill or thrift store.
Simplifying your Life
Decluttering your life shouldn’t be restricted to just physical items, however. Simplifying your calendar can be one of the most satisfying ways to declutter your life. Start by eliminating the things that don’t really matter to you in the first place. Do you plan crafting projects, then feel guilty for not actually doing the crafts? Save yourself both time and emotional distress by eliminating the planning stage. If your weekly book club meeting brings you joy, continue going. If it leaves you tired and stressed instead, drop it from your calendar.
Question each invitation before issuing a yes. Are you essential to the activity or event’s success? Will the activity fill you up or drain you? Is this something you want to do, or is it something you feel you should do? Eliminating the excess appointments in your calendar frees up time to engage in activities that bring you fulfillment and ensures that you get enough time to practice adequate self-care.
Downsizing your life and home may feel daunting, but it can also be a liberating experience, rewarding you with more time, space, and freedom. It isn’t easy to let go of things that are familiar to us. Downsizing can be tinged with anxiety, sadness, and guilt, but in the long run, it affords us a greater sense of freedom and, many times, a better understanding of ourselves. By making a plan, being organized in your process, and keeping your goals in mind, you can ensure a positive and redeeming experience rather than a stressful and overwhelming one.