5 Easy Steps to Downsize

Ready to downsize? Follow these five steps to quickly get rid of at least half your belongings.

Amanda Thomas,
October 15, 2015
Episode #177

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If you are thinking about downsizing, chances are that you have thought about the amount of stuff you have. Downsizing can be an appealing choice, but often times people are overwhelmed with the amount of work they would have to do. I’ve previously talked about reasons to downsize, but once you’ve made the decision to cut your living space in half (or less!), you are going to have to do some hard work to cut down your belongings to fit into the smaller home.

Recently Mr. DCeo and I decided we were going to downsize dramatically. During the weeks it took to get ready to move out of our big house, we realized that this is not a quick process. Most people would call us minimalists, and our house was pretty well organized, and yet it still took us about three weeks to go through the purging, sorting, and packing process. Keep in mind that we tried to keep our sanity by working on it a little each day, so the work could have been completed quicker. Depending on how much motivation and time you have, the process may go a little quicker or take a little longer.

Round 1: Purge

This first round of purging is where you are going to look for the most obvious things to get rid of, including trash and donations. For this process, I’d recommend getting a box of black trash bags to fill with trash, and a box of tall white trash bags to fill with donations. Then, pick one room to go through, and as quickly as you can, grab everything you don’t wear, use, or like, and throw it in to either the donation bag or the trash bag. If it’s still in good condition, and someone else could get use out of the item, it should go into the donations. If no one else would want the item, put it into the trash immediately.

This first round is meant to go quickly. Don’t over think, don’t try on clothes, don’t ask opinions. That will all come later. This first go round will likely clear out about 25 percent of your stuff without even trying. Again, just make sure to focus on the stuff you don’t wear, use, or like. Some examples of things that are easy to toss in this round are:

·         Clothes you haven’t worn in years

·         Bottles of shampoo that no one in your family likes to use

·         Receipts for items you know you aren’t going to return, or are past their return date

·         Anything that's broken (unless you really intend to fix it before you leave home)

When we did this, I was able to fill three tall trash bags with clothes immediately. I don’t have many clothes compared to most women, yet my closet was still overrun with items I didn’t really like. I was also surprised to find that most of the items in our bathroom cabinets went straight into the trash. Over the years, I hadn’t put much thought to the cabinets in the bathroom because they weren’t super messy. When I started to go through them, though, I found multiple items that I remember moving from my last apartment eight years ago. If I haven’t used the remainder of a bottle of lotion that I bought before I was married, it’s pretty clear it can go in the trash. You’ll likely be surprised by what you find lurking in your cabinets during this round. Again, don’t think, just throw it in the trash!

Round 2: Group Duplicates

After you get rid of the stuff you know you don’t want, it’s time to start figuring out what you still have. During this step, you are going to start putting similar things together. Hopefully you already have some areas of your home organized like this, but you’ll still probably surprise yourself with the amount of duplicate items you own. By putting all the like items together, you’ll be making the next couple rounds even easier.

In our home, other than realizing that 80% of my wardrobe is black, white, or grey, we didn’t have too many surprises in the closets. Where we were shocked with the duplicates was in our kitchen. We could have literally stocked 3 kitchens with the amount of cookware, cooking utensils, and dinnerware we had in our cupboards. By putting everything together in groups, we were able to move on to Round 3.


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