19 2019

The importance of decluttering when downsizing

Jess Eddey

The importance of decluttering when downsizing  - blog post image

One of the biggest fears people have about downsizing, is that they will feel cramped in their new home. It’s therefore incredibly important to make sure that if you are downsizing that the furniture and items you choose to take with you will fit into your new space comfortably and safely.

Whilst you need to select furniture and items that you love and feel comfortable with, it’s important to remember that you can’t take everything with you to your smaller home. It will be hard to get comfortable and settled in to your new home if it is too cluttered. Clutter in a small home is dangerous and also has a negative impact on our mental wellbeing.

The effects of clutter on our mental wellbeing: 

From a living perspective a cluttered environment can negatively affect your living experience. Whether it is your closet or living room, being surrounded by clutter has been linked to a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. Clutter could be letters, unsorted piles of paperwork, books and magazines and all manner of miscellaneous items.

Research from the Princeton University of Neuroscience published a study in January 2011 in the The Journal of Neuroscience. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and other measurements to map the brain’s responses to an organised and disorganised environment. The research results were strong and found that “multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time, compete for neural representation and restricts your ability to focus. Furthermore they found that this restricted ability to focus leads to frustration, anger and anxiety.

For example the clutter competes for your attention in the same way a young child might stand next to you and scream repeatedly for your attention, and even though you are able to focus a little you’ve still got an awareness of the screaming child next you. This in turn wears down your mental capabilities causing frustration and tension.

In contrast the research also found that an organised space and living environment led participants to be less irritable, more productive and were distracted less often.

Some other well-researched negative affects of living in a cluttered environment are:

- Exacerbates allergies by inviting build up of dust mites and mold

- Increases risk of fire and injuries

- Makes you late for appointments when you can't find things

- Depletes your energy with its overwhelming presence 

Below are our top 5 decluttering tips when downsizing

Decluttering tips when downsizing:

  • 1. Start decluttering as early as possible order to reduce being overwhelmed with the amount left to do before moving day. Not only do you need to pack up your house for the move, you need to decide what you can and cannot take with you. The earlier you can start this process, the less pressure you will be under to make decisions quickly.
  • 2. Assess your storage areas at your new home early. Often accurately measuring the amount and size of storage space is overlooked. This will help with deciding what to keep and what simply wont fit. Turning up on move in date with too many boxes and not enough storage space to unpack them into, will cause a lot of stress and extra unnecessary work. You want to feel relaxed and at home as soon as possible.
  • 3. Set up 4 designated work stations: one for rubbish, charity, things to keep, and items to sell. We suggest that you begin to pack items that you are keeping as you declutter, to aid in the packing process. Declutter the easy obvious things first. It’s often easiest to start by identifying items that can go to rubbish, charity and things you definitely don’t want anymore.
  • 4. Get rid of multiple items. It is okay to keep multiples of practical items such as bed linen and towels, but how many different coffee cups do you really need? You need to ask yourself, ‘when was the last time you served coffee for 20 people?’ Many common kitchen items have duplicates yet we tend to only use our favourite of those items. Choose one set of measuring cups, one spatula, one wooden spoon and so forth.
  • 5. Donate/dispose of unwanted items straight away. If you have things in your boot to take to charity or have a room/space piled with rubbish you are often tempted to go back through it and pull things back out.


If you are finding the process of decluttering to downsize all too difficult and just don't know where to begin it may be time to enlist the help of a professional.

As professionals decluttering and downsizing experts for over 6 years, our team at Home Moving Planners come up with helpful solutions and strategies to effectively and efficiently to help our clients downsizing to retirement, aged care or smaller living.