It’s Time to Downsize. Now What?

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Downsizing, Next Chapter Planning, Organizing

Well, the time has come. Hard to believe, but you’re downsizing— we prefer “right sizing”—your living space. Maybe you’re excited about the upcoming move: a smaller home to maintain, lower utility bills, being closer to family and friends. Or maybe you’re going kicking and screaming.

Either way—it’s going to be OK. I promise. You can do this!

Whether you’ll be moving in a few months, next year, or maybe in a few years, the number one thing you can do to make this process easier is to start now. Giving yourself plenty of time to sort through your possessions means you can be more thoughtful about what is most important and what you can release to new homes. You can take time to reminisce about special memories. You can realize that you really don’t need the three slow cookers collecting dust in the pantry.

One of the most helpful ways to get started is to pick a room—perhaps a room you don’t use very often. Set aside a certain amount of time each day—you can accomplish a lot in 15 or 30 minutes—to work in that room until you are finished. Sort the items into six categories: Keep, Trash, Donate, Give to Family/Friends, Sell, and To Be Determined.

  • Keep: Will you have room for this in your new home? Is it something you can’t live without? When was the last time you used it?
  • Trash: Is it broken? Is it covered in mildew? Is it worn beyond its useful life?
  • Donate: Does it still have useful life left? Could it make someone else’s life better, easier, or more joyful?
  • Give: Would this have meaning to a family member? Is there someone you know who could use this? Is there a friend who collects this or has this hobby?
  • Sell: Does this have enough value for me to take time and energy to sell it? How hard would it be to find a buyer?
  • To Be Determined (TBD): Sometimes you just don’t know. If that’s the case, mark it TBD, and circle back to it later.

Our free Room Inventory Guide can be a helpful tool as you begin to sort through your possessions.

Some other quick and easy downsizing tips we’ve learned over the years include:

Measure your new space, if possible. This will help you understand how much room you have to work with, what furniture will fit, and what may be best for your life in the new space.

Get serious about those magazines/newspapers/books. If you haven’t read it, you likely aren’t going to. If you’ve already read it, how likely is it that you’ll read it again? Libraries will welcome your book donation, and magazines and newspapers can be recycled.

Pare down duplicates. If you have multiples of an item—and only ever use one—pass the others along.

Digitize photos and paperwork. There are more efficient ways of preserving special photos and paperwork than lugging bins from one home to another. Enlist a tech savvy relative or neighbor to help you digitize those memories!

Give extra or worn linens to animals. No longer need all those sheets/towels/blankets? Many animal shelters would welcome the donation for their furry residents.

Consider the 20/20 rule. If it would take less than $20 or 20 minutes to replace that item if you need it, send it on its way. (You can use a 10/10 rule, or whatever amount works for you!)

Enlist help. Sometimes the work involved in downsizing is just too much to handle on your own. It’s OK to admit that! Perhaps you have a trusted friend or family member to help, or perhaps it’s time to call in some expert help. No matter when it will be time to downsize, all of us can do something NOW. What’s your next step in the downsizing process? Leave us a comment below.


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