How to Downsize: Techniques, Tips, & Tricks!
Published July 4, 2018

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This is the 31 Days of Minimalism Challenge: Day 4! If you missed yesterday’s post, check it out here.

For many minimalists, downsizing is a huge part of their lifestyle, at least in the very beginning stages of becoming minimalist.

As children, we are taught how to purchase things, save our money, and (some of us) clean. But many of us were never taught how to DOWNSIZE! That is, get rid of the things that no longer serve a purpose in our lives.

Rather, we create emotional bonds with our toys and belongings, not realizing that we are future hoarders being accustomed to the lifestyle.

And so, 15 years pass just as such. Perhaps one day, we find ourselves sitting at the computer amongst hoards of things and question: is this life?

That is when we discover minimalism.

We then read everything we can about the lifestyle:

  1. What is Minimalism?
  2. Reasons to Embrace Minimalism?
  3. Personal Minimalist Recipe
  4. Ripple Effect of Minimalism
  5. Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism
  6. etc. etc.

But now what?

Everyone, it’s time to downsize!

How to downsize and declutter

Okay, maybe we weren’t all raised like this

While we all come from different backgrounds, countries, and raises, the truth is that the majority of us grew up around capitalism and consumerism.

So even if this wasn’t your childhood, chances are some of your friends grew up like this.

Perhaps your parents were minimalist and taught you their ways: that is great. Share your story in the comments below!

For the rest of you, perhaps your parents were maximalists who had a difficult time getting rid of things. And then it transferred to you, and you are finding it more and more difficult to stop accumulating.

If so, this article is for you!

Today, I will be covering the most effective downsizing techniques, tips, & tricks that helped us become minimalist and change our lives for the better.

Want to learn how to downsize? Keep reading.

How to Downsize

Before starting, make sure you have read yesterday’s post: Creating Your Own Minimalist Recipe. The post includes a FREE planner that will be very helpful in setting goals and creating a downsizing routine.

1. The BEST downsizing technique

The no-questions-asked BEST downsizing technique that we have used is a combination of the box-method and the keep-donate-sell-trash method.

For those of you who haven’t heard of these methods, we explain below. After that, we show you how to combine the two to create a no-fail downsizing method.

The Box-Method

With the box method, everything (yes, everything) you own is placed into a set of boxes. For example, if you are trying to downsize your closet, you would place all of your clothes, shoes, and accessories into several (or hundreds) of boxes.

After that, it is a waiting game!

  1. Every time you need something, take it out of the box and leave it out.
  2. Give it about two weeks, or however long you think.
  3. Whatever is left in the box is usually what you should be getting rid of.

This is a great method because it truly shows you what is being used frequently and what is barely touched.

Keep-Donate-Sell-Trash Method

This method requires more focus than the box method as it involves active sorting.

To start, create 4 piles, boxes, locations, etc. in your house that are labeled KEEP – DONATE – SELL – TRASH.

After that, it is pretty self-explanatory. Begin organizing your stuff into these piles and then keep, donate, sell, or trash them.

The Combination Method (BEST)

Both the box method and the keep-donate-sell-trash method are GREAT ways to start downsizing your belongings, but the BEST and most efficient way to downsize is combining the two.

Here is the process, pretend we are working on downsizing our closet:

  1. Start with the box method. Place everything in your closet into several boxes.
  2. WAIT! Take out only what you need and organize those things back into your closet (hang, drawers, shelves, etc.)
  3. After several weeks (or whatever feels right) take all of the left-over stuff and organize into KEEP-DONATE-SELL-TRASH
  4. Proceed to either keep-donate-sell-trash those items

There you have it! That is the combination method.

The reason why we like these methods combined is it allows for more time-flexibility.

  • The box-method is inherently better for people with less time, as it requires a less-involved approach to sorting.
  • The keep-donate-sell-trash method is better for people wanting to downsize quickly, as it requires active sorting.

In combination, the two provide the best of both worlds.

On the weekdays when you’re busy, the box-method automatically sorts for you. Then when the weekend comes, you can finish it off by sorting through the remains with keep-donate-sell-trash.

2. Additional tips & tricks

Here are a few things we have learned along the way:

  • Items are replaceable, space is not
    • For us, it is better to get rid of something than to keep it for possible future use
  • It takes a long time to feel comfortable getting rid of things
    • At first, getting rid of stuff can be sad and difficult, even useless junk.
    • Remember that the more you downsize, the easier it will get and the more you will realize how pointless that junk was.
  • You don’t have to get rid of everything
    • Minimalism is a personal and customizable lifestyle. If you have a huge collection of vinyl that you use and enjoy (like us), KEEP IT ALL!
    • Items that bring joy and value to your life should often be kept
  • Don’t buy that s$%t in the first place
    • We’ll cover the cost of minimalism in the future, but for now imagine how much you could have saved if you hadn’t bought all those things in the first place!

3. Sentimental Items

If you own things that have an emotional value, such as toys from your childhood or your great-grandmother’s jewelry, question whether they are adding value to your life.

Many times, they do not. They are just sitting in a box or closet.

While it is completely personal preference (minimalism has no boundaries), we recommend questioning if you are attached to these item OR to the ideas/people/memories associated with them. 

If it is the latter, remind yourself that the memories will always have a place in your head. Memories do not truly exist in things.

Things do not give you joy, people do.

Decide whether these items are holding you back in the past or benefitting your present and future life.

Woohoo! Tomorrow, we start downsizing!

Get ready, everyone! Tomorrow, we are going to start narrowing in on specific parts of the house and how to get them downsized and organized.

First up is the wardrobe/closet: easily the most cluttered and disorganized part of the house.

If you have any comments, questions, stories, or ideas, make sure to let us know below!

As always, BE WELL!
Riley & Cece


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