The Art of Letting Go: Decluttering Tips for Downsizing

Change is a funny thing. On one hand, it brings the opportunity to start fresh— to experience something new and exciting. But on the other hand, it requires letting go and stepping outside our comfort zone. (Cue the overwhelm!)

Downsizing is a perfect example of how change benefits us and makes us uncomfortable. We know it’ll feel incredible to have a smaller space that functions better and is easier to manage. We’re even excited by the thought! But actually making it happen? Well, that’s when the tension and anxiety sets in.

If you’ve recently decided to downsize, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Your home is full of personal belongings you’ve accumulated over the years. Sentimental keepsakes, kitchen appliances you never use, boxes of Christmas decorations that take up too much space— the list goes on and on. And while you were accumulating these things, piece by piece for years or even decades, it didn’t seem like a lot. You tucked each item away and continued on with your life.

Now that the time for change has come, though, it feels like too much to tackle at once. How do you decide what to keep and what to take with you? Where do you start? And what if you have regrets when it’s all said and done?

Take a deep breath. I promise, there’s a way to declutter and downsize without feeling stressed, stuck, or stretched thin. It just requires giving yourself a little grace and laying out a strategic game plan— which I’ll be guiding you through today!

7 Decluttering Tips for Downsizing

Having a clear plan is essential when preparing to downsize. The more you map out your next steps, the less chaos and confusion you’ll encounter.

Here are my top downsizing decluttering tips to help you get started:

Feeling rushed only adds to your stress levels. By starting sooner rather than later, you give yourself the gift of time and space to make thoughtful choices about your belongings. You can approach tasks gradually and sort through your items with care, which is the best way to avoid the regret that often comes with hurried decision-making.

I recommend giving yourself a minimum of 3 months to put a plan in place and then sort through, eliminate, and pack up your belongings. But if you’ve lived in your space for several years, or if it’s a big family home, you’ll want to increase that time to 6 months or more.

Of all the decluttering tips for downsizing, this one is probably the most crucial. You have to break the job down into realistic and achievable steps— otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels.

My advice? Include a deadline for each task, but make sure you consider other obligations and schedule concerns when doing so. If you’re attending a large family get-together on a Saturday night, for example, it may not be realistic to tackle a larger decluttering project on Sunday morning.

Also, always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. It’s better to have extra flexibility than to feel under pressure!

Part of knowing how to declutter your home for downsizing is maintaining a productive mindset, and that means being kind to yourself! Beating yourself up for not completing a task will only make it harder to feel motivated. Remember, even if you only get halfway through, you’ve still accomplished something and moved closer to your goal. 

Give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished and then commit to tackling the rest when you have the energy!

Say it with me: When in doubt, go smaller! One of the biggest mistakes I see homeowners make when preparing to downsize is biting off more than they can chew. Many online articles advise people to downsize room-by-room, but the truth is that sometimes that’s too much!

So, just narrow down your focus. Even decluttering a single zone in a room can result in significant progress. One cabinet, one bookshelf, one closet— it all adds up. Don’t feel obligated to take on everything at once.

You start to feel lost in the chaos when you spend long periods decluttering your home. Give your mind a break by getting outside the house and doing something you enjoy. Putting physical distance between yourself and the clutter allows you to mentally recharge, preventing burnout and fatigue.

You can ask a friend to go for coffee or take a stroll in nature. As long as it’s an activity you enjoy, it counts!

Knowing a beloved piece will find a new home with someone who appreciates it, or be transformed into something new, is a comforting thought that makes letting go a little easier.

It’s difficult to minimize your entire life, especially when you feel emotionally connected to the items you’ve accumulated over the years. That’s why I always include recycling and donating in my list of decluttering tips for downsizing!

Plus, recycling and donating is an excellent way to prioritize the environment! Every item you donate or recycle is kept out of landfills and contributes to a lower carbon footprint. 


April 22 is Earth Day! Remember, you don’t have to be preparing for retirement or moving into a new home to practice decluttering. You can do it anytime! Why not make decluttering part of how you protect the environment this month?

No matter how much you plan and prepare for downsizing, sometimes the job is just too big for one person. In these situations, the best way to simplify the process is to enlist the help of others.

Reach out to family or friends who can offer encouragement and assistance. You can turn an otherwise lacklustre situation into a fun experience by hosting a pizza party and playing fun music while you all sort items and eliminate ones you no longer need.

After all, many hands make light work!

Ask About Our Decluttering Services for Moving

We’re here to help ease the burden of downsizing and guide you through the process with care and expertise. 

Our compassionate Edmonton professional organizers understand the challenges of transitioning to a smaller home. We’ll work with you to create a tailored plan that aligns with your schedule and downsizing goals, then we’ll handle all the details while you enjoy a stress-free, streamlined experience.

Don’t let the discomfort of change hold you back from enjoying your next chapter! Reach out to us today.

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