Steps to make downsizing easy

Downsizing can be an emotional journey, but approaching it with a view to the future not only makes the process one of renewal and excitement, but can also make the physical act of decluttering a lifetime’s worth of stuff a much easier undertaking.

The first step is to get in the right headspace for the task at hand. Clearing out will create more space and time for the things you love, room for a lighter existence and welcome in new adventures.

In Sweden, they take it a step further and practice dostadning, which is basically the slow and ongoing decluttering with the eventual goal of not burdening those left behind after you are gone with a “surplus of minutiae”.

While it sounds like a morbid take on clearing out the cupboards, it is not seen that way in Sweden. When people start dostadning, the focus is on living a lighter and more enjoyable life and the gift that getting rid of your own stuff is to your family and friends.

It’s also not possible to begin any decluttering journey without at least hearing about Marie Kondo, the decluttering queen, who encourages us all to part with anything that doesn’t “spark joy”. She suggests that, before letting go of any item, you thank it for the service it has given, even though it isn’t serving you any more.

Once you are mentally prepared to start going through your stuff, experts suggest some practical tips to make the task easier. Marie Kondo recommends clearing out one category at a time. She recommends working from the least emotional to the most emotional, to develop your decluttering muscles. Start with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous items and, finally, sentimental items. 

Some questions to ask yourself as you assess each item:

  • Does it spark joy?
  • Is it necessary or utilised regularly?
  • Do you own more than one?
  • Does it have a significant financial value?
  • Will it fit into a smaller home when I move?
  • Would a family member or friend appreciate the item or use it?


If you can talk a friend or family member into coming to help, it can make the experience more enjoyable, too. Sometimes having someone to share a memory sparked by an item is enough and may actually help you hold onto the memory, but let go of the item.

Knowing that your items are going to a new home can also be enough reward to help you let go. The thought of something going to waste, despite still having plenty of life left in it, can make us hold onto things we no longer need.

Joining the Garage Sale Trail on 19 and 20 October is a great way to take all the things you no longer need and turning them into spare cash. It takes five minutes to sign up online and your sale will appear on the national map. You’ll also get downloadable resources such as posters and checklists.

Have you ever had a garage sale? Have you joined the Garage Sale Trail?

Zoe Pester is the digital campaign manager at Garage Sale Trail and an all-round lover of garage sales with a passion for sustainability.

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Related articles:
Downsizing: the good, bad and ugly
How to kick the clutter habit
How you can downsize in style

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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