Most of us have stuff that we don’t particularly need but seem to like to keep around. Perhaps you are a collector of sorts and just enjoy a good bargain, or can’t resist an estate sale or yard sale. For whatever reason, you may be amongst the majority in this country who seem to be busting at the seams when it comes to “stuff.”
What you might not know is that all of that stuff could be bringing you down. According to research, people who are drowning in stuff tend to suffer from depression-like symptoms more than those who live life in a more minimalistic fashion.
Downsizing doesn’t mean that you have to sell it all and move to a 400-square-foot home; it just means making a conscious effort to weed out the necessary from the unnecessary, including in a large home. According to statistics, the average American home today is just under 2,600 square feet. This is compared to 1,000 square feet in 1950. Today, homeowners often have multiple rooms in their homes that are not used, or used only minimally. In the 1950s every square inch of a home was well-used.
Downsizing is a good thing, especially when it comes to being prepared for difficult times. When you don’t have much to look after, it makes preparing for the important stuff much easier. Not to mention the money you will most likely save. Time is a factor as well. Less clutter and/or a smaller home means less time cleaning and maintaining.
Still, downsizing is a very difficult task. It may seem impossible to weed out what you don’t need, and often emotions get in the way. If your desire is to downsize, and you know that you are going to have trouble, enlist the help of friends or family members who can keep you on track.
Here are just a few tips to help make your downsizing journey a smooth one:
1. Have a goal. Know where you want to end up before you begin. If you know that your ultimate goal is to move into a smaller home, know how much space you might have and adjust what you have presently to fit your new space. Don’t even consider an extra shed, storage unit or another external storage source. Your goal will need to be in the forefront of everything you do during the downsizing process.
2. Have a plan. Once you decide on your ultimate goal, create a manageable plan and don’t overcommit yourself. Slow and steady wins the race. Give yourself plenty of time to tackle your project, especially if it is a major downsize and you have a lot of stuff. When creating your plan, make a list of all of the things that you need. This will serve as a useful guideline as you downsize.
3. Start small. Don’t try to tackle your whole home at one time. Begin in a small space like a bathroom or a guest bedroom. One of the worst things that can happen is for you to become overwhelmed on day one. Tackle one room at a time and set a time limit for each room. For instance, if you have two hours to spare, try to pick a project that will work within that time limit. Once you have tackled the small spaces, move on to bigger areas — one space at a time.
4. Don’t have a “maybe” pile. One of the worst things you can do when sorting and organizing your things is to create a “maybe” pile. This is the pile where things go that you don’t want to make a decision on, things that you think you will revisit at a later date.
Do yourself a favor and make a clear decision to either keep something or get rid of it.
5. Sell what you can. If you are up to it, have a yard sale or sell things through online marketplaces. You will be amazed at how much money you can make by taking the time to list an item for sale.
6. Give things away. Give to charities or those in need. This is a great way to give back to those in your community.
7. Throw away. Don’t keep things that are broken or missing parts. If they are inoperable or otherwise unusable – and you can’t immediately repurpose them — get rid of them.
8. Celebrate the small steps. As you go through the downsizing journey, don’t be afraid to celebrate the small victories one at a time. As long as you are moving forward, you are making progress. Be sure to remind yourself of this daily.
Happy downsizing! You will be amazed at how great it feels to slough off some of that stuff that you don’t need. You will feel as if a weight has been lifted, and you can breathe. Not to mention walk through your garage or attic with ease!
What are your tips for downsizing? Share your thoughts in the section below: