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  • Writer's pictureJeff Schultheis

Top 5 steps to downsize with less anxiety


The anxiety and exhaustion can overwhelm most people. You have spent years living in this home and now it is time to downsize. But you quickly question where did all this stuff come from? Homeowners quickly run out of both mental and physical energy. For the best experience, use our top 5 steps to downsize with less anxiety.

The Typical Beginning to the process of Downsizing:

· What is this?

· Why did I hold on to it?

· Does it have value?

· Is it useful?

· Does someone else want it?

· How am I going to lift it?

· Is it part of a set?

· Does it work? Can it be fixed?

· Should I ask the kids?

· How are we going to get this thing out of here?


Instead of clearing clutter, the home seems even more cluttered than it did before. They feel stuck.

It doesn’t need to be this way! I encourage downsizers to step back for a few minutes and take account of the entire project ahead. Don’t dive down to the basement. Instead, sit down and map out the top 5 steps to downsize with less anxiety.


How to Downsize in 5 Steps

Step One: Plan

Everything starts here, with a solid plan for how to downsize. You’ll prioritize your tasks and determine the order of operations that makes the most sense. You aren’t going to finish this tomorrow or next week. So, draft a reasonable schedule and decide which tasks to tackle first. Your personal approach will depend on whether you are a do-it-yourselfer, or whether you like to make one call and hire a pro. You may procrastinate or require extra time to process your belongings, but that’s fine if you factor that into your plan. The result of the planning process will be an overall approach that works for you, your timeline, your budget, and your work type.

Step Two: Sort


For many people, sorting through the contents of the household is the biggest task by far. Others are happy to take the top 20% of their belongings and walk away from the rest. Either way, start by asking: What is important?

When professional downsizing specialists help with sorting, we encourage our clients to focus on two categories:

1. Furnishings and belongings: the everyday items you need to be comfortable and do the activities you love.

2. Collections and artifacts: these are the things that tell your personal story.

Identify the stuff you’re using every day.

Fight the urge to rush down to the basement. Chances are that the items that you currently love and use regularly aren’t there. Look around at what you’re using every day and assess the suitability of your furnishings for your new place. Once you’ve selected your favorite furnishings, you’ll probably realize that there is plenty of stuff you’re ready to leave behind. Plus, most people end up accepting that mentally letting go of things is easier than unearthing belongings you forgot you own.

Obviously, there are some boxes that will need to be sorted and preserved. If you have enough time before your move, we encourage you to do the work of organizing and digitizing family photos, videos, and other memorabilia. If you don’t have time to process these items before you move, this is one category of “stuff” that we encourage you to hold onto until you have the time (but also commit to doing it after your move!).

There’s no “one way” to downsize. For a handful of people, sorting through all their belongings is cathartic and necessary. That’s fine if you’re 1) one of those people and 2) have time to do it. If not, give yourself permission to take what you want and walk away from the rest. A downsizing professional will make sure that everything gets re-homed as efficiently and profitably as possible.

Step Three: Divest

How will you handle the things you are not taking? This includes giving things away, pursuing an estate sale or auction, hiring a company to clear out the entire property; whatever it may take to empty the house. In our experience, this part of the process is the most worrying to people.

There are lots of emotions and decisions that come into play but keeping your eye on the final outcome is the trick to getting through it.


You’ve already identified the things that are important and are coming with you. That immediately makes everything else less important. Why lose sleep over less important things? Instead, try turning to a downsizing specialist to make your life easier. Most professionals will help you approach your belongings from the top down. First, you’ll select things to offer to your friends and family. Then, the pros know how to look for high-value items that could be sold through specialty buyers. Finally, you may choose to sell ordinary household items through an auction or estate sale. Anything unsold would then go through a final round of donation and removal to empty the property completely.

Step Four: Sell

Your home is likely the biggest asset you’ll ever own. Your home has protected you for years and given several important memories. Now, it will pay you back for your maintenance over the years. You want to hire a trusted real estate agent.

Even the smoothest real estate transactions can be stressful. Choosing an unskilled or low-cost agent can result in skimpy marketing, poorly negotiated deals, or incomplete documents that may cost you thousands of dollars. An experienced Realtor® will be your advocate and ally in your goal to get top dollar for your property and get to closing on schedule. A trusted agent is an absolute must to guide you through this process.

The best outcomes happen when there’s a strategic and collaborative effort among the move manager, the mover, and the Realtor®. We recommend starting with an overall plan first and developing a real estate strategy about 8-10 weeks before you want to put the house on the market.

Step Five: Move

There’s a truck on its way.

Visualize the best possible outcome as you arrive at your new residence. Your belongings are safe and fit neatly into their intended space. By the end of the day, your bed is made, and you can collapse into it. This level of service isn’t easy, but downsizing specialists will almost always recommend an efficient and purposeful unpack to get you into your routines as quickly as possible.

A quality moving company is worth its weight in gold. You don’t want to pack your home, unpack in your new home, and haul all those empty boxes to the recycling center. Use a downsizing specialist to work with the movers. This professional will see to the boxing and unboxing and can set up your new residence to your specifications and standards. You want to focus on settling in, not on unwrapping dishes and dealing with empty boxes.



Downsizing is a source of freedom

Downsizing should be a source of freedom, not of stress. It’s an opportunity to share items with loved one, to relocate to a smaller, easier-to-manage space, and to earn financial security by divesting a valuable property. Let an experienced downsizing professional walk with you through the five stages, and you’ll end up in a better place in less time, with less stress.

Don’t be discouraged—we know there is a lot to consider. We are downsizing specialists. We want to make your experience one that preserves the excitement but sheds the anxiety. We provide clear guidance and advice to help you make the right decisions downsizing and help sell your home. Request your Free Download here FREE Downsizing Guide and connect with us today! Let’s get ready to sell your home. Text/Call Jeff at 614.721.0450 or email Jeff@JSRealtorTeam.com. Offices in Columbus & Mansfield to serve Mid-Ohio.



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