Downsizing in 30 Days: A Step-by-Step Guide

A 30-day cleaning challenge is designed to help you restore your home space (and your mental space) in about a month. This can be especially useful if you're about to move or reduce your size. Whether you're selling your house, moving to a smaller space, or just looking to declutter, downsizing can be a daunting task. But with the right plan and strategy, you can make the process easier and more efficient.

Realistically speaking, you don't have space to store “excess things” in the cabin you're moving to, since it's furnished and is an intentional “downsizing” move. In many cases, less is more: Think about the trend of small houses and the general popularity of downsizing. Downsizing your home may be the right decision at any stage of life, depending on your goals. You might find that buying a smaller home makes more sense once it becomes an empty nest, or maybe you're a member of the millennial generation who wants more money to retire early or travel. To reduce the size correctly, you must know the size of the space in which you intend to fit.

Ideally, you should know the square footage and shape of each room. This will help you determine what large furniture you should dispose of before the move. If you don't have the exact measurements of your new home or haven't selected a new one yet, focus on tidying up and getting rid of things you know you won't need. Once you get more details, you can dig into the elements you were undecided about. Chances are there are some sentimental items that won't fit in your new space.

For sentimental furniture and decorative pieces, try to contact your family and friends to give the items a good home, especially if it's an item you'd like to keep in your family. Do this in advance and schedule pickup times at least one or two weeks before your move, depending on how often you use the item in your current space. If there are items that your family members don't want or are too small to carry right now, try to sell them and save the money you earned. When the time is right, you can hand them that gift and they can buy something for their home that they really need. There are many different ways to organize your memories.

You can create chronological, categorical photo albums, or any number of different photo albums, whichever makes the most sense to you. For those unsentimental items that you don't plan to bring to your new space, try selling them to pay for moving expenses or new decorative items. There are many online marketplaces that facilitate online selling, such as eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo, and more. Make sure you take appropriate security and anti-fraud precautions when using these applications to sell or buy items (guidelines can be found on each individual organization's site or app). If there are high-value items that you don't want to take with you to your new space, consider appraising them so they can get their full value at auction, donating them (with appropriate tax deductions), or passing them off as an early family gift. Papers and files can pile up over the years, so take out the shredder and get ready to reduce the size of your file cabinet.

Get rid of bank statements or documents that you have access to online and any tax-related paperwork from seven years ago. Other documents can be scanned and organized into crisp digital files. Make sure to back up those files to a separate drive and if it's something you can't bear to lose (birth certificate, etc.).Buying and selling at the same time can be difficult to manage. If you think that any step in the reduction and relocation processes is above capacity or you don't have time, seek help.

You can first send feelings to your particularly organized friends and family, but try not to make it feel like an obligation. If they agree to help, make sure you thank them properly. Know your strengths and weaknesses: If you're a good organizer, you may only need help moving boxes on moving day. If you're having trouble getting organized and staying organized or leaving your stuff, a professional organizer might be worth it. Don't pressure your family members to take something and don't check the item after the fact if they do. Understand that any item you give away may end up being donated or given away.

Also remember that while your family loves you very much, you may not have room for your things. Some items don't lend themselves to your new home or lifestyle. Consider accessibility and safety when ordering. Maybe you decide that you don't really need those stilts anymore. Start thinking about what safety precautions you can add to your home ahead of time, rather than waiting until they're needed to add them. As you remember, take the time to add details, names, and dates to family heirloom photos and labels.

It'll be more fun for guests when they look closely at your albums, and it'll be easier to know who's who and what's what when it comes time for sorting through memories. Downsizing doesn't have to be overwhelming if done correctly with a plan in place. With these tips in mind, start planning out how best to downsize in 30 days so that when it comes time for moving day everything will go smoothly.