Updated in November 2022
Do you really need everything you’ve got? Would downsizing make your home easier to manage? Answering yes is simple.
Getting started and following through with a plan to declutter and downsize? Now, there’s a challenge. But Otterbein SeniorLife can help.
Here are 10 ideas to jumpstart your makeover, rightsize your life, and unleash your possibilities for simpler, fully engaged living.
- Declutter Briefly and Often
- Add Decluttering to Your Calendar
- The No-More-Stuff Rule
- The One-In-Two-Out Rule
- Repurpose Stuff for Charity
- Downsize Your Storage
- The Clothing Rule
- The One-Year-and-Gone Rule
- Get Help With Your Clutter Problem
- The One-Room-at-a-Time Rule
1. Declutter Briefly and Often
A 15-minute stint, performed regularly, delivers surprising results sooner than you might expect. Set a timer and get to work. You’ll be delighted by how much you get done in such a short amount of time.
2. Add Decluttering to Your Calendar
Make it easier to remember to declutter briefly and often by adding it to your calendar. Daily, weekly, three times a week — do whatever works best for you to get a routine going. Cross it off when you’ve taken care of it.
3. The No-More-Stuff Rule
It’s important to limit any new items that you add to your home once you start to downsize. This will help you declutter, and it will save you money too!
4. The One-In-Two-Out Rule
If you need to purchase something new, you can offset that addition by removing two other items from your home. For example, when buying a new recliner, sell or donate your old recliner and one other piece of furniture in your home that you're not using.
5. Repurpose Stuff for Charity
Giving meaningful items to loved ones may make it easier to let go of them. Consider donating less sentimental items to charity or to a family in need. You can find a donation drop-off location here or schedule a pickup, maximizing the ease of giving.
6. Downsize Your Storage
With less space at hand, you’ll find it’s easier not to hang on to things. Consider downsizing into a smaller home in an independent living community. You may be surprised by how appealing it is to have a fresh start with convenient on-campus amenities, services, and nursing care if you need it.
7. The Clothing Rule
If you haven’t worn an item in the past year, you likely don’t need it. If parting with some of your clothes proves too difficult to bear, start small with cheap, easy-to-replace clothing like socks. Many charities accept lightly worn clothing, and you can even use the donation as a write-off on your taxes.
8. The One-Year-and-Gone Rule
This rule is like the clothing rule, except it applies to other belongings. If you haven’t used something during the past year — a kitchen appliance, a craft project, sets of linens, etc. — strongly consider getting rid of it.
9. Get Help With Your Clutter Problem
Calling a trusted friend or relative to help you sort is often helpful in many ways. They can hold you accountable to your decluttering schedule and lend a hand with each task. They also won't likely experience the same emotional attachment to certain things and can offer an unbiased opinion about whether you should keep or toss them.
10. The One-Room-at-a-Time Rule
You'll feel accomplished and motivated to continue when you focus on one room and finish it completely. If you enjoy music, turn on your favorite artists and try to have fun while you declutter. Keep your eye on the end goal to remind you how good it will feel to have an organized, clutter-free home.
When You Can Live With Less: Declutter, Downsize, and Do It
The ultimate decluttering tip? Downsizing. Not only will downsizing force you to follow the steps above, but it can also make your home easier to manage. It's helpful to have a plan in place for your future needs. Read our detailed downsizing guide to find out how to overcome emotional barriers to downsizing. You'll also learn how to involve family and friends and get tips on choosing your next home.
View our downsizing guide to walk you through the entire process.