Thinking about downsizing 
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This past week, organizer Nia Spongberg  and I gave a talk to a Small/Tiny Homes meet up group here in Ann Arbor.  The topic was downsizing.  Here's how we tackled it.

Think Big First

It's important first to do some philosophical thinking about downsizing.  As with any organizing project, you must first understand your goals, motivations, values and needs.  By beginning this way, the more practical questions become easier to manage. 
Here are some sample questions and answers, both philosophical and practical, to fire up your downsizing dreams. 
A tiny house designed by Prentiss Architects

Philosophical Questions

  • What prompted you to start thinking about smaller houses?
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being mildly curious and 10 being deeply passionate, how would you rate your commitment to moving into a small home?
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being unattached and 10 being deeply attached, how would you rate your attachment to your stuff?
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being unconcerned and 10 being very stressed, how would you rate your feelings about downsizing?
  • What will living in a small home mean for you? make possible for you?
  • If your house were burning down, what items would you grab on the way out the door? 

Philosophical Questions and Sample Answers

Q:   What gives you life now and will that in any way change if/when you move to a smaller space? 
A:   I really enjoy being in nature – kayaking, hiking, cross country skiing. With less house and less stuff to manage, I will have more time for that.
Q:   Letting go of sentimental items is difficult for most people.  What will make this easier/possible for you?
A:   Finding people who would appreciate the items. Viewing the new space. Reminding myself that having less can mean more – more time, more attention, more energy for other things.
Q:   What do you value about your current house?  How can that translate into a  smaller space?
A:   I like having some space that is just mine. I like that my cat seems happy. I enjoy the natural light from the windows. I like seeing nature out each window.

Practical Questions

  • What's it like being in a house that is significantly smaller than your current house?  What do you notice about these dwellings?
  • How large is your current home?
  • How long have you lived in your current home?
  • Do you have a garage? A storage unit?
  • What, specifically, will be hard about downsizing?
  • What organizing strategies do you use now?  How might they be applied to smaller house living?
  • What are some anticipated challenges (organizationally or other) of living in a smaller space? 

Practical Questions and Sample Answers

Q:   Do you have the authority to make decisions about the things in your house?
A:   My kids still store their childhood belongings in the house. I'm storing some things that belonged to my parents, and my other siblings don't have room for them. 
Q:   What really works in your current space?  Does that need to continue in a smaller space?  If so, how might that work?
A:   I like having an office. I like having space for my cat to run around. I like big windows that open. I like bright walls. I like my clothes being separate from my spouse's clothes. I think that can all work in a smaller house.  I don't think I'm particular about what my office space is like except that I have one.
Q:   Who will live in your small home with you?  What conversations have you had about downsizing?
A:   My spouse.  I'm really excited to downsize, and she knows it makes sense, but she isn't as excited as I am. My spouse and I both have lots of hobbies.  I'm ready to think about my hobbies differently but my spouse is not.

Final Thoughts

We don't have to be moving into a tiny house or even a small house to want to downsize, declutter, and lighten our load.  Maybe we want more time and space for the things in our life that matter. Whatever the reason, I support you!
Copyright © 2016 Susan Hunsberger Professional Organizer, All rights reserved.

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