Downsizing and Real Estate

7/23/2020 | By Katie Hamann

How Do I Start? Where Do I Begin? 

Think of it as Weight Watchers for your stuff.

Belongings that once filled our lives and homes with pleasure may now seem like a burden, just like extra weight we carry on our bodies, but prefer to shed. Sorting through a household and lifetime of accumulation and deciding what to shed can be challenging. Letting go of our stuff is a lot like losing that weight. It involves work, a focused effort, perseverance, and expending of energy. The key to losing 10 pounds is not losing the final pound, but losing the first. The key to downsizing is not finishing the process; it’s starting.

Your house became full by accumulating things slowly over time, one item at a time. Your belongings are like those pounds. It took years to accumulate them, and sorting through and releasing them takes time. Each pound, as each item taken individually, doesn’t appear to make a difference, but collectively those individual bags and boxes of items add up over time. There may not seem to be a lot of improvement after culling one closet, but five closets can be significant. With patience, planning, and perseverance, you can live with less, as you let go, a bit at a time. 

List Each Category in Your Home

Before you begin, brainstorm a list to help you consider all the categories in your home. Most people want to sort by room in their homes, but that can get distracting and fragmented, which halts progress. The key to eating this downsizing elephant is one bite at a time, or one category at a time. So, a more effective approach is to sort by category! On a clean sheet of paper, write down all the categories of stuff that may currently dwell in your home. Thinking through your home room by room can help you to visualize all your categories. It’s okay if you miss a few categories. You can add them as they emerge. Think of what lives in each closet, each drawer, each cupboard and each cabinet. Write it all down.

Avoid Tackling the Whole House in One Go

Tackle one downsizing category at a time. About two hours per session is ideal. Look at your list, and ask, “Which category would be the easiest for me to tackle?” Which offer the quickest wins? Start with those. The more success we have, the more momentum we create, and the downsizing machine will continue to hum along, allowing you to conquer clutter and cross off each category. 

Keep Downsizing and Sorting Sessions Short

Try to keep them to two hours and start with the simplest category first. Starting with a simple room helps build confidence to say, “I can do this.” Start small with a category you can complete with relative ease. One you can start and finish within a couple hours. Select a category that sets you up for success, where you can make practical decisions rather than emotional decisions. Some examples of this may include cleaning supplies, linens, a junk drawer, socks, candles, or office supplies. A successful session includes a start and finish, complete with clean up resulting in culled items ready for departure to a charity, to be sold, tossed, or sent to the recycle bin. Upon completion of a category, place any and all items you are not keeping in your car or at the door for immediate departure.

Set Your Tone and Thoughts 

Set the mood with music. The right mindset and energy can guide you through a category with more ease, optimism, and maybe a bit of fun! Set the tone of pace with a timer. It’s easy to lose track of time. Work no more than 2 hours at a time. We’ll refer to this as a session. Some categories require multiple sessions. 

Decide Where Categories Will Dwell Next

Once you have your first category, think about who wants what you won’t keep so you know who it will benefit and what to do with it before it is released. Think about how many YOU use and need to keep on hand so you can have a practical guideline for yourself. Know where it is headed once you decide to let it go. This allows for completion of a category, and the disappearance of what is no longer desired. Let is be of use to someone else now. Don’t overthink it. Just decide, and then remove it. Having a mindset of how it will serve will take your focus off what you are losing and shed the light on what someone else is to gain. 

Cheers, and Repeat!

Reward yourself with each completed category with a walk, a sip, a nap, quiet reflective time, or some treat. This can be tough emotional work, so applaud yourself for completing a worthy task. All rewards must be something you can use up, as our goal is to create space in our lives and homes.

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