Downsizing and Real Estate

7/30/2020 | By Katie Hamann

When downsizing and decluttering, you may wonder what the timetable will look like. The answer? As long as it takes! There is not one answer. 

What impacts pace? Mood, attention to detail, level of interest, energy level, focus, ability to make decisions. Decision-making ability. Here’s the good news: the more decisions you make, the better you will get at making decisions. 

Whatever time you think it will take for a category, double it. This work is often slower than we expect. It is emotional work that is often draining, and emotional energy is as easily spent as physical energy. Going down memory lane with our possessions can take an energetic toll on us, so the two-hour time frame is also a healthy boundary so we don’t get depleted. 

Work in two hour increments. If a category takes longer, take a break and come back to it, or break it into smaller categories to further refine your decision making. 

Find an Accountability Partner

Working with someone can help even your pace and keep the culling fire stoked. A friend, spouse, family member or professional working with you can often facilitate the process and keep you on task. We often behave better when others are watching! Consider if someone is working with you that they may have a different pace. It’s easier for someone else to be objective and decisive about your stuff. If you were at their house helping, you’d be able to get rid of their stuff far more easily than your own. Remind anyone who is helping that they need to work at your pace and comfort level. 

Allow 6-12 months to examine and reduce an entire home. To do this work thoroughly, thoughtfully, and purposefully realize you need months. Of course, that can be sped up, but less time increases the stress level and is not optimal for most. In 15 years of downsizing with clients, it seems most people don’t get serious about stuff reduction until they 1) have a deadline such as a move or the sale of their home, and 2) will procrastinate if they have a year and really focus on the last six months of that year! Most of us don’t want downsizing as a full time focus, we want it as a more recreational part time activity.

Here’s an example of how to tackle the linen category:

Gather all linens in your house together to make sure you have the entire category. What is included in the category of linens? Table linens, towels and towel sets, sheets, comforters, kitchen towels, tea towels, pillows, sleeping bags, fine linens, blankets, throws and duvet covers, rags, and linens for cleaning. Anything else? Sort by category and be sure to have the entire category for review. If reviewing and editing the entire category of linens feels too daunting, break it down into a smaller bite. This downsizing is meant to make you feel better, not worse. 

The key is to review all of the category at once. If you have two linen closets, sort all linens at the same time so you can see how much you have in total. 

Ask Questions to Decide What Is Needed, and What to Keep

  • How many sheets do you need to keep per bed? 
  • How many towel sets do you need to keep?
  • And: how many pillows do you need to keep?

Send It on Its Way

Bag all linens that are leaving your home. Clear trash bags work well so you can see what is inside. That will reduce any error in anything getting accidentally tossed in the trash

Where will you donate what you don’t keep? For the category of linens, there are so many charities who can use your linens for their work. A homeless shelter, or animal rescue all need linens for the people they serve. 

Honor What Is Left 

Once you’ve decided what to keep, be sure to put it away in an organized manner so you can easily find it, access it, and use it. Plus, you can see the space you’ve created and enjoy the positive results of your hard work. It feels good to know what was merely taking up space in your home can now go out into the world and be of use and value elsewhere.

What About My Grandma’s Fine Linens?

Special, sentimental categories can be set aside to review later. Don’t let the emotional work halt progress. Handmade linens may take more time, and will likely be sent to a more specialized place, or may be shared with family and friends. Set these aside and we’ll get more specific with these things later. They are likely to live in a drawer, or a box, or on a shelf. Make a note in your category list of “fine linens” indicating it requires further review, and has yet to be completed.

Don’t know where to begin? Find the most frequently asked questions about downsizing and decluttering here!

Katie Hamann

Seasoned move manager Katie Hamann has been helping clients clear their clutter and live with less for 16 years. As the owner of Door to Door Solutions in Richmond, VA, she speaks frequently to a variety of groups on the topics of later life moves, and is enthusiastic about connecting those who want to give of their things with the places who so graciously wish to receive them.

Katie Hamann