Top 15 Tips to Survive Downsizing

The build up and planning of your big downsizing strategy is half the battle.  With these 15 downsizing tips, we’ve got you covered right up to moving day.

  1. Track items used in the house 3-6 months before the move

Use as much time before the move as possible to track your use of household items and possessions.  Particularly with clothing and kitchen items, find a marking system to indicate which have been used within the last 3 months.

For example, start your hangers all facing the same way and then turn the hanger the opposite direction when rehanging an item you’ve just used.  In the kitchen, consider a designated drawer or storage container to place (and prepack!) items that have been used recently.

This way you can tell with practical accuracy, which items should be making the move with you and which can be parted with.

  1. Get estimates from at least 2 moving companies 

It’s a good idea to get estimates and details from at least 2 moving companies, well in advance of the moving day.  Find the best prices, value and reputation.

Additionally, some moving companies will pack your items for you and provide insurance coverage.  All of these are important details to consider.

  1. Get floor plans of the new home and compare with similar rooms in the old

Getting the floor plans in advance of moving is the perfect way to plan ahead.  Compare your current rooms to similar sized or shaped rooms in the new space to determine your furniture layout.  This doubles as a means of sorting your furniture.  Any excess pieces that don’t fit into the new layout can be gifted, sold or donated.

  1. Create lists and a schedule

Keeping lists and a schedule for your downsizing strategy is key to getting the job done and staying sane in the process.  There is inevitably a lot to manage and organization is the only way to avoid chaos down the road.  Keep lists of anything you need to track, such as item categories, items you will trash, use, donate etc., items for specific rooms, which items go to friends and family, or anything else you need to track; get as detailed or general as you need to feel confident in your plan.

Similarly, a schedule is just as beneficial.  Keep track of what rooms you want to tackle first and by when.

  1. Keep all lists and schedules in one convenient location

With all those lists lying around, make sure to keep them all together in a convenient location.  The kitchen counter or on the front hall table are good places to start.  Pick a place where your lists are easily accessible but won’t accidentally get buried in other items.

  1. Create questions to help sort your possessions

Sorting your worldly possessions is a difficult task, even for the least sentimental person.  To help in sorting what stays and what goes, try coming up with a few questions.  For example, ‘will I use this item in the next 3 months’ or ‘do I actually want this item or the emotion attached to it’.

  1. Enlist family, friends and professionals in the process

Don’t try to do this process alone, just don’t.  Ring up your nearby friends and family, and ask them to help with sorting and packing.  Make a big day of it; this is a chance for everyone to get together.  Family and friends will bend over backwards for you in exchange for a good meal or a drink.

This is the best audience to help you, particularly with sorting possessions.  They’re close enough to understand your points but objective enough to point out the realities.

Hiring a professional downsizing company is always a beneficial consideration, too.  They know all the tricks and tips, having done this several times before, and they can make the process painless.

  1. Offer items to family and friends

An added bonus to having family and friends help during the sorting stage is an extra source to purge items.  Giving away items you don’t need, but are having trouble letting go of, to people close to you is a good compromise; letting go isn’t as hard because the items haven’t gone far.

  1. Find an objective opinion

At times, family and friends can still be too close to the subject so it’s important to have someone that can be totally objective in the decision making.  They should still be someone you can trust, like a professional, but that voice of reality is essential.  Otherwise, you’ll end up cramming needless junk into your fresh new space.

  1. Take photos of items you don’t need but are having trouble purging

This is another method to parting ways with sentimental items – take a photo of them.  Be honest with yourself – it’s the memories and nostalgic feelings that are hard to let go of, not the item itself.  Take a photo, keep it for those times when you want to reminisce, and then part ways with it.

  1. Compile all important documents into one organization system 

While you’re in the process of organization your life, this is a great opportunity to sort all your important documents.  Collect all your hardcopy papers for leases, bills, records etc. and organize them into one system or location.  This will make for easier storage and access in the new home.

  1. Colour code boxes

Even after downsizing, there’s still going to be a lot of boxes to keep track of come moving day.  Designate a colour to each room in your new home and apply that colour to the corresponding boxes that will be unloaded there.  For example, if blue is for your kitchen, that big box of kitchen utensils gets a blue sticker.

Many dollar or business stores will sell colour-coded stickers.  Consider coloured tape even.

  1. Limit your sorting sessions and take a decent break

The best way to stay motivated is to avoid getting exhausted or frustrated early on.  Pace yourself and enjoy the moment; reminisce in the old memories and the chance to spend a day with family and friends.

Limit yourself to approximately 2-hour sessions and take a good break in between.  If you’re feeling really motivated, you can take a break in between finishing individual sections or rooms.  It’s important not to overdue it, though.

  1. Return items being stored for others

This is a big one for the empty nesters out there.  If you are storing items for family or friends, particularly children, it’s time to give it back.  Contact the people you’re holding things for and arrange a pick up, shipping or disposal of the items.  Everything must go!

  1. Stay Positive!

Remember, at the end of the day, this whole process is an opportunity.  This is a chance to purge unnecessary clutter and start fresh.  Organization days can be social events, with everyone coming together to help.  Stay positive and think about this next exciting phase in your life.