Tag Archives: downsizing

You Can Use Moving as a Catalyst for Downsizing


Most of us have clutter lying around the house: trinkets we don’t remember how we obtained, broken or worn items we’re never going to use again, things we were gifted but never wanted, the list goes on.

Moving is a great catalyst for getting rid of things you don’t want or need. A new home is a blank slate. You can start anew with only items that benefit your life. Below are some tips for using moving as a catalyst for downsizing your possessions.

womanundermoving boxes

Decide What’s Important to You

The first step to downsizing is to analyze your viewpoint on possessions. What sort of items do you want in your life? Obviously, items you use on a daily basis will stay. These items make your life easier and contribute to your happiness and well-being. When it comes to décor and other items, think about whether you notice them often and if they make you smile. We all want a positive vibe in our living space, but too many trinkets can actually add stress to your life instead of bringing joy.

You’ll also want to think about what you want your new home to look and feel like. This means getting rid of items that are broken, damaged, or just don’t contribute to your space. As you pack, you’ll want to think about every item. Does it add functionality or positivity to your life? If not, strongly consider leaving it behind.


Purge Your Belongings

After you’ve decided your standards for keeping and getting rid of items, it’s time to start the purge. Here is a great article with tips for purging your belongings before a move. 

As the article states, you’ll want to be very intentional in your organization. Designate piles and boxes for items you’re keeping, items you’re donating, and garbage. I suggest creating these groups in piles first, then packing your “keep” pile a few days later. This will give you a second chance to analyze whether each item truly positively contributes to your life.

You should get rid of:

Items you haven’t used in over 6 months

Items you’re only keeping to make someone else happy (gifts you never wanted)

Anything that is broken (if you haven’t fixed it yet, you probably never will

Clothes you haven’t worn in 6 months (with the exception of seasonal wear)


Keep the Momentum Going

Once you’ve moved, you have a chance to keep the momentum from your purge. You can do this in several ways. The first is to resist the urge to fill your new space with clutter. Keep your home organized and only buy things that you actually need. 

The second trick is to pay attention to what items you’re using. My favorite trick for keeping the closet organized is to turn the hangers backwards when hanging all your clothes. Then, after you wear them, re-hang the item the opposite direction. In 3 months, you’ll be able to quickly see which clothes you haven’t worn. If they aren’t seasonal, there’s a strong case for donating them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get in a funk with clothing. You wear the same clothes over and over again because you like them. But then maybe a certain shirt gets really worn. You keep wearing it because you used to love it, but you no longer feel confident in it. Learn to purge clothes as soon as they don’t make you feel good. This includes shirts with un-removable stains, clothing with (un-fashionable) rips and tears, and jeans that no longer fit properly, resulting in the zipper constantly sliding down. Removing these items from your closet will result in a functional wardrobe full of clothes you truly enjoy wearing.

These are just a few ways that moving can help you be more intentional in how you view your belongings. Do you have any downsizing tips? Share in the comments!


* Contributor Jeriann Watkins blogs at dairyairhead.com. As a crafter, she knows the challenge of wanting to keep items for their potential. You can see her organization tips and downsizing successes on her blog.
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Dressing A Full Figure Without Small Waistline

Dear Kathi,

I am full figured with no waistline. What clothes should I buy?

Jessie, Waitress


Avoid wear baggy shirts that fall straight from your bustline to your hips. This practice makes your entire body look as wide as your chest. Buying shirts with a snug fit and princess seam under the chest is a good practice. Shirts that fit snug at your waist with tailored lines will accentuate your waist and draw attention to your lower areas. Keep suit coats long and make sure they hit below your hips, ending at the widest part of your bottom, not above it. This will give the appearance of a longer torso and minimize your hips. Suit coats with three – four buttons will minimize the bustline. Another important item to consider is your slacks. Wear slacks with wide legs that fall away from your hips. This will help you avoid the upside-down “V” look and you will elongate your torso at the same time.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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What Sets addSpace Apart From Other Coaching Services

Here is a quick Q&A to help you understand a bit more about Kathi Burns, the founder of addSpace To Your Life!

What Sets addSpace Apart From Other Coaching Services

1.How did you get started in the business?
I started this business as a love offering for a friend in need who was sick and being over run by her clutter. As I volunteered with her, I discovered that I loved this work and that I had an innate ability to help people learn how to release and let go. After doing a bit of research, I also learned that there was a big need for people with my skill set.

2.What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Helping clients shift away from stuck habits and move toward a life of their dreams. Helping them embrace change with open minds and anticipate the best is a result of their release from being stuck in the muck of their stuff.

3.What separates you and your company from the competition?
As both a Professional Organizing and Image Consultancy, I help clients change on the surface level of their environment. Their block could be a wardrobe that does not create a successful image or a home or office that does not function properly. I am all about environments and my goal is to make them function at their highest level.

4.Who is a good prospect for you?
Anyone who is experiencing some type of transition in their life. Switching careers, getting married, downsizing or starting a new business are a few examples. Basically anyone who needs to make a profound change and wants to learn the easiest and quickest way to move through it is the ideal addSpace client.

Also, any corporation that wants to host a workshop or training program to create a significant increase in productivity within their departments.  Also any organization that needs an inspiring  and motivational speaker for their next conference.

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Organize next move to make unpacking a breeze

Dear Kathi,

I moved into my new home two weeks ago. I feel really overwhelmed with the move, the boxes, the unpacking and the mess created as a result. I work full time and I can’t handle the lack of organization when I get home from work. It’s a good feeling to be in a new place but it doesn’t feel very good to live in such a state of chaos.

My main question is where do I begin and how do I feel a sense of
accomplishment in the process. My place has gets dirtier and more
chaotic as I unpack. I really want to have a housewarming party but am
embarrassed by the state of affairs in my home.

I need to know what tips you can give me so I can see and feel like I am making some sort of progress. Where do I begin, I am overwhelmed.
James, San Marcos


Congratulations on your new home! Remember that there is always chaos and disarray before there is order. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

A good first step will be to put each unpacked box into it’s designated room. Line these boxes along a wall with the least amount of furniture. Take inventory of your closet/storage space before you begin to unpack your boxes. Will your closets function with the contents that you plan to store within them? If you have more items than shelves or space, consider refitting your cabinets before you unload them and purging the items that you won’t use more than once a year.

Begin unpacking the room that you will use most often. Typically this will be your bedroom or the kitchen with the living room following close behind. Spend time making one room completely clean and functional before you begin a second room. This way, if you begin to feel overwhelmed you can retreat into this room, shut the door and relax away from the chaos.

Tackle the kitchen early on so that you can start eating healthy food. Set up a pantry area to hold all of your dry goods and extra food supplies. Refer to the AddSpace column published January 27, 2005 to optimize your kitchen layout http://addspacetoyourlife.com/advice01_27_05.html.
As you empty each box, break it down. Take boxes and papers to the trash area frequently as you unpack. This will get you out of the house from time to time and the mess inside will diminish.

It pays to recruit a friend or hire a Professional Organizer as you unpack to motivate, assist, and offer fresh ideas about the storage areas within your home.

Keep in mind that without hired help, it typically takes 3-6 weeks to settle into a new home. If you work full time and/or have kids, you can add a few a weeks to that timeline.

There is nothing wrong with taking a few days off as you unpack to enjoy your new space. Creating a new home is not a marathon. It is important to maintain balance while you acclimate to your new surroundings.
If you wish to have friends over for a housewarming party before you are completely settled in, go easy on yourself and order takeout food or have a BBQ. Your friends will understand and might even offer to come back and help you finish unpacking.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Downsizing from large home

Dear Kathi,

We are getting ready to downsize from a 3,500 square foot home to a 1500 square foot home. We obviously have too much furniture. We would welcome your professional guidelines about how to downsize.

Errol, Oceanside


Decide what activities will take place in each room within your new home in advance. For instance, will the spare guest room double as a study or crafts room? Once you have decided what purpose each room will serve, you can begin to decide which furniture should be kept, sold or donated.

Consider making a graph to scale of each room showing all doorways and windows. Another option is to simply take a walk through of your new home and make notes about what furniture you will need for each space.

Once you have a more visual understanding of your new home, you can begin to weed through your belongings. As you pack for the move, assign a room for each item and box it accordingly. This way each possession will end up in the right area after the move. Keep a master list of each room and its contents. With this method, important items won’t get lost. It will be easier to gauge if you have too many items for your new space.

I strongly recommend that you enlist the help of a friend or professional to provide insight and help you make decisions. An outside helper won’t have any vested interest in what you keep, sell or donate. They will be able to look objectively at your space and needs.

Furniture is your first and largest consideration. Once you have decided what furniture you will keep, you are ready to begin going through your knickknacks, china and other belongings. Your furniture and the storage therein will provide preset parameters about what to keep. For instance, if you have decided the buffet will not fit into your new home, this is a major indicator that you will need to part with some or all of your good china.

Consider what your new lifestyle will entail. Will you entertain on the scale that you have in the past? Will you still host sit-down dinners with good china or relax into the informality of barbeques and paper plates? Many retired folks are happy to pass the role of formal hosting to their children or a local restaurant. If you can’t part with all of your china, consider keeping a place setting for four and sell or bequest the other 8-12 settings.

Your new home gives you permission to release the old responsibilities of a garage full of tools, a bevy of pool toys and your full scale gardening collection. Eliminate the lesser-used and redundant items. Take this opportunity to redefine what you really want to do in your spare time and purge accordingly.

Books are a heavy topic, literally and figuratively. Book collectors and avid readers have a tough time releasing books while downsizing. Realize that you won’t have the same amount of bookshelves in your new space. Pre-measure your bookshelves. Preset the number of books you will move before you begin to purge your collection. Be diligent through this tough decision making process. It might take 2-3 purges to get your library to a manageable size. Remember that you can usually find most titles at the local library. Donate your discards to the public library system. Your old books will raise money for new titles and you can personally benefit from the tax deduction.

Remember that it is very difficult to purge too much. Almost every item that you own is replaceable. Space is not. Leave yourself room to grow and flourish within your new home.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Purging and Downsizing

Dear Kathi,

We have acquired a lot of furniture over the years and need to get rid of a few pieces. In two years we will downsize into a retirement condominium. I would like to start getting rid of things now so that it won’t be such a large task when we actually do move. It’s so hard to decide what to keep and what to let go. I think my real question is, where to start?

Frieda, Oceanside


It is a great idea to begin your downsizing now. Two years will speed by, and before you know it, you will have to perform this task anyway. Take the time now, set a reasonable pace, and you will make better decisions. To decide which furniture pieces you need to keep, consider what rooms you will have in your new condo. Will you still have a formal dining room? Will your kitchen hold your current table and chairs?

How many bathrooms? Schedule the approximate move date on your calendar. Plan backward from the move date to today and note what needs to be organized. Set a completion date for each major task.

List each room and mark the sub-goals also on your calendar. For instance, Guest Bedroom: Aug 1-8 closet Aug 9-16 curios, Aug 17-24 cabinets and drawers. Take a mental inventory of what is in each room. Make a list of the items that you absolutely wish to keep. Start letting go of items that you know you won’t need in your new condo.

Place these items into boxes for donate or sell. If you are ‘on the fence’ about whether to keep or give away an item, consider boxing it for the time being. Store this box out of site with a note to yourself on the outside.

List the contents within this box and the date it was taken out of the limelight. A month before your move, revisit these boxes. Read the label and the content description. See if you can visualize the items in the box by reading your label. If you have forgotten what these items are, even after reading about them, this is a good indication that you should let them go. Do yourself a favor and do not open this box. Instead, load this box into your car and take it to your favorite charity.

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