No matter what your reason for downsizing is, here are some tips for making it less frustrating. Helping someone downsize can be an emotional experience. Where you see a houseful of stuff to sort and toss, they may see treasures, essentials, and a lifetime of memories. Sell? Donate? Give away or throw away? Downsizing is stressful and takes a lot of time but these ideas can help you get a game plan on how to tackle it. For couples and families, make sure everyone is on the same page to eliminate conflicts and hurt feelings down the road.
Downsizing tips: How to sort
- You don’t have to finish the whole job in one sitting!
Take the task at a pace that is manageable, and break it down by room or area. Setting a time limit of up to two hours is also a great step to keep the stress levels lower.
- Use yes-no questions.
Keep the discussion of what to keep to yes-no answers. You can help avoid a lot of the value-placing discussions that can slow down the process by doing this.
- Use the new space as a guide.
Measure exactly how much closet or cabinet space the new place has before hand. Then stage with an equivalent amount of space as you sort. Mark off the comparable space so you have a visual guide.
- Avoid doing the work twice – try to not create a “maybe” pile.
There is an acronym for this called the OHIO rule: Only handle it once. As tempting as it is to set aside tough sorts for later, once boxed, it is easy to forget what is in catch-all boxes.
Exception: Save time by boxing piles of paperwork, which doesn’t take much room. Papers are time-consuming to go through and can really slow you down.
- Pre-sort and focus on most-used items (and let the rest go).
If you have duplicates (or more!) of items, these work especially well to presort. Clothing, kitchenware, tools, and anything else there is more of than you have space for. Don’t go by the newest and best; go by what is used most often. We often collect things we liked in a spontaneous purchase but never really use.
- Take photos of the contents before being packed into the box
If you do pack a catch-all box, try to snap a picture of the contents to put with the box. This is a quicker way to inventory than trying to keep a list, or hoping you will remember what was in a specific box. This is especially helpful if all the boxes are uniform in size and shape.
- Heirlooms? Gifts?
Maybe now is the time to pass it on- if you have things that are too important to you to donate, consider now as the right time to pass them on.Deciding what to do with everything left over is a big task by itself Finally, for a good rule of thumb to set expectations for selling or donating remember that “the value of an item isn’t what you paid for it or how well made or special it is — it’s what someone is willing to pay for it.”