Downsizing: Five Tips

After spending the last year downsizing in our preparation for full time RV life I’ve learned 5 tips that can make the process easier. These tips will work whether you are downsizing your entire life, as we are, or decluttering an overstuffed room

There are also many helpful blog articles and YouTube videos out there if you want to dig deeper into downsizing and purging belongings.

Number One: Start Small

When we first started talking about getting rid of most of our stuff and hitting the road in an RV I looked around the living room and panicked. Overwhelm doesn’t even start to cover the emotion. But what’s that saying? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That’s how you start downsizing as well. Start with one drawer. Just one. Don’t look beyond that drawer. Once you complete that drawer stop for the day. Celebrate that success. Then choose the next drawer. After a couple of drawers then tackle a whole cabinet. Move from there to a closet, then a room. Maybe tackle a season. For example, can you go through all your fall décor? Do you really need three fall wreaths? Four Christmas trees?

Number Two: Start With Non-Sentimental Items

When you start downsizing don’t start with your grandmother’s china. Just don’t. Start with something very benign. When we started with our first drawer it was the kitchen junk drawer. Easy-peasy. It took me over a month to tackle anything remotely sentimental. Understand that purging those sentimental things will exhaust you. Not just emotionally. A couple of hours of going through sentimental things is enough to wring you out physically as well. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll be grateful if you don’t start with those things. And don’t save them all for last either. Intersperse those tough decisions in between some pretty easy ones.

Number Three: No Maybes

When you start downsizing you’ll want three piles or bins. Only three. Sell. Donate. Trash. Notice there is no Maybe or Later pile. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Maybe becomes Keep. Then everything goes into Maybe. Don’t fall into that trap. In downsizing there is no maybe.

Number Four: You Aren’t Going to get Rich

You might sell some of your stuff. Understand you are not going to recoup your money. You are not going to finance your lifestyle. You are not going to get rich. You just aren’t. That necklace you paid $50 for might bring you a dollar. Maybe. And don’t think you’re going to have a garage sale and get rid of everything. You won’t recover your time. After selling a few things we decided to either donate or trash stuff. Honestly, the quickest way we found to get rid of stuff is to set it out on the curb with a sign saying “Free.” Goodwill is your friend. Just donate stuff. You’ll provide a job for someone and feel a lot better about yourself. If you are really determined to sell your stuff, try resale apps or Facebook Marketplace.

Number Five: Get It Out of the House ASAP

Once you have stuff boxed up get it out of the house ASAP. Those boxes sitting around start talking to you, whispering that they really aren’t junk, you really want to keep them. You don’t. Just let it all go. Get those boxes out of the house. Rip it like a Band Aid.

Bonus tip: set a due date for the downsizing/declutter to be completed. Schedule the tasks.

What tips would you add to this list? Have you ever downsized your entire home or life? How did it go? How long did it take you?

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