There are a lot of similarities between eating a 100 lb pumpkin and downsizing a home. Both seem overwhelming and foster a strong desire to procrastinate.
It is the SIZE of the task that makes it seem overwhelming. Eating some pumpkin is a not a challenge. In fact, pumpkin pie is my favourite* dessert. Similarly, downsizing a single room or just a closet in a room is manageable. However, a 100 lb pumpkin is another matter. So too with a 3,000 square foot home with stuff in every room. Here are five simple suggestions for dealing with your “100 lb pumpkin”.
Dividing an overwhelming job into smaller chunks is the most common approach when faced with a huge job. You may have heard motivational speaker Brian Tracy ask the rhetorical question: “How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time.” This technique is also known as the “salami method” since it is easy to handle a 10 lb salami, one slice at a time.
This approach is ideal for downsizing since it encourages you to approach a large task by dividing it into smaller subtasks. For example, focusing on clearing out a basement to the exclusion of all other rooms, increases your efficiency and your confidence since progress is more easily visible and measurable. Of course, chunking has a companion requirement and that is TIME. Dividing a task into smaller chunks does not shrink the overall task since the same amount of stuff is still present. We were in our last home for 24 years and had accumulated a lot of stuff. (Mostly mine.) By stretching the downsizing out over an extended period, we were able to get to the point of moving to a condo.
Dividing a 100 lb pumpkin into 10 large chunks is still a lot of pumpkin for one person to deal with. That’s why sharing it with others is the next logical approach. Similarly, having a group of people all working on one common goal is the most effective way of accelerating your progress when downsizing a large home. The group could be made up of family members and friends, supplemented by professional organizers. If you are storing things for family members, asking them to help by taking their stuff back, is a good way to make some headway with your own stuff. Of course, giving things away is the simplest way of sharing the workload. We gave a stack of dried firewood to our next-door neighbour . Our neighbour moved it and we regained some space at the back of our garage
A person who can’t possibly use an entire 100 lb pumpkin could divide it into sections for sale to others. This approach is a combination of the first two sections of this article. This is exactly what a grocery store does when dividing a product that no single customer would buy. This also requires some sorting, since not all parts are saleable, just as some of your stuff is not saleable.
Not all parts of a pumpkin are worth keeping. So too with your possessions. You can save a lot of time and expense that is wasted on packing and moving, provided you can quickly identify and remove the items in your home that can be safely tossed. As with the first three suggestions above, this requires sorting time.
Since a 100 lb pumpkin would be too much to consume in a short time, even for a group of people, freezing and storing it for later use would make sense. This same approach can be used when downsizing. If you don’t have the time to deal with all of your stuff by your target date, you can always store it off-site for further sorting. In other words, you could “freeze” it in its current state. Using a public storage unit for the remainder of your stuff is an example of this approach. (See the article on How to downsize on a tight schedule for more thoughts on Public Storage.) This is the only approach in this article that addresses a shortage of time available for sorting by temporarily delaying that task until you do have time. We made good use of this method when storing our contents in between our old location and our new one. This works particularly well when you schedule it to match the best weather season for your area.
What are you doing with your “pumpkin”?
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Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored with a quill pen …
Paul Ferri, Broker, ASA (Accredited Senior Agent)
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*, Toronto, Canada
*Each office independently owned and operated