There is an upside to downsizing. Promise!
Reducing clutter is all the rage these days.
From “Hoarders” (a TV show predicated on making average messy people feel better) to KonMari and The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up, we all seem to be focussed on cultivating perfectly Zen, clutter-free spaces.
And that’s a great thing for downsizers, because there are suddenly so many good reasons to throw stuff out.
Take KonMari for instance – the brainchild of professional Japanese organiser, Marie Kondo. She says clearing out the clutter simply makes way for more happiness – and who doesn’t want more happiness?
But does chucking out accumulated junk really make you happy? I was keen to know, because, judging from the small mountains of novelty mugs, birthday and Christmas cards, paper clips, bread ties and rubber bands (why?) and expensive kitchen gadgets that haven’t been seen beyond the fourth drawer down for decades – I was due some serious bliss.
So, last weekend I decided to put KonMari to the test. I began burrowing into my cupboards, pulling out sundry items and asking them if they brought me joy. If the answer was a resounding ‘no’ (or even a ‘meh’) – out they went.
And the truth is, I did feel calmer and lighter once I’d ferried everything to the rubbish or op shop. Letting go of items I’d planned to use but just never did was freeing – and the bonus is there was less to clean and dust – and who couldn’t feel happy about that?
Downsizing for joy.
However, it’s unrealistic to think you can clear away a lifetime of accumulated stuff in a weekend. Downsizing a home is a decidedly daunting task, but you should also view it as a unique opportunity to reduce the clutter in your life before retiring.
Two-time New York Times bestselling author, Peter Walsh, has spent a lifetime organising other people. His latest book, Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life is a definitive guide to downsizing your home and getting a simpler, happier and less-stressed life devoid of ‘stuff.’ He’s an advocate for reframing downsizing from an overwhelming chore to a rejuvenating life change – and Let It Go offers practical tips and hints to do just this. Here are the book’s key takeaways:
Start early and work consistently. Walsh argues that it takes years to clutter a home, so you should plan to downsize months in advance. Start small and work in one area or room first, proceeding slowly and systematically until you’ve covered the whole house.
Enlist family members. Chances are some of the stuff you need to downsize isn’t yours. Having all the family to help not only assists with the heavy lifting, you can also decide on the spot who wants what.
Find your treasures. This is the fun bit. Start any downsizing session with identifying your must-have items. Remember your KonMari principles here – look for objects that make you the happiest or you have the deepest connections to – take only the best!
Make a floor plan. Remember, you don’t want your new home overflowing with boxes you’ll never open again so pack based on the space you’re moving to, not on how much you’d like to keep..
Set limits. Walsh argues that when everything seems important, nothing is. You can’t take everything with you so set clear limits for what will fit in your new home. His guide is to take only so many treasures as you can fit on your dining table.
Be creative. If you have too many objects that bring you joy, get creative. Do you really need them all, or could you take a beautiful photo of some items or choose just one to represent a collection? If so, sell or gift those treasures you’ve decided not to take with you.
Give it now, not later. Planning to pass an item to a family member or friend in your will? Why not give it to them now rather than making it part of your legacy. That way you can see the look of joy on their face when they receive it (and you can always visit your treasure in their home).
Remember, it’s not always about stuff.
Ultimately, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re struggling to let something go there’s probably a good reason. Often, alongside the physical space downsizing opens up in your life, your emotional, psychological and spiritual space gets a little ventilation too.
Understand there are emotional challenges that accompany downsizing. Sit with the feeling an object gives you for a while to see if you can work out what’s troubling you. If you can’t, then put it down somewhere safe and move on to the next one.
And try to remember this new phase of your life will bring a raft of unexpected freedoms, opportunities and responsibilities, so aim to have a little fun with it all.
Encore Living has just the place for you to live your clutter-free dreams. Contact Debra on 1800 362 673 for a tour of your new home.