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The Best Downsizing Advice I’ve Found (from Peter Walsh)

Like a good Aussie, Peter Walsh tells it like it is.

I always appreciate his no-BS organizing and downsizing advice. A few years ago, Walsh wrote a book after losing his mum and organizing her estate, “Let it go”. I highly recommend reading this book if you’re trying to downsize for any reason. It’s also a helpful guide for going through the belongings of a loved one. 

I’ve written the highlights (in my opinion) and summarized most chapters here.

The resounding message is:

”Keep only the real treasures from your life. -Peter Walsh” 

Downsizing truths

p.22 These truths become obvious when downsizing a life of possessions:
1. You own more than you really want or need– probably a LOT more.
2. Looking at your old possessions reminds you that a significant portion of your life has passed.
3. Downsizing reminds you that life eventually shrinks for most people. For everyone, it someday ends.
4. When you die, leaving all your stuff behind, no one else will care about it like you do.

p.40 Your stuff displays the characteristics about yourself you choose to value. It tells the world, “This is how I imagine myself. This is how I spend my time. This is what I dream about.”

Fear around downsizing memorabilia

p.83 When selecting memory items, only keep the real treasures.
Because you’re so afraid of losing a treasure, you’ll draw a wide perimeter around memory items and wind up including stuff that doesn’t really meet the criteria. Any fear you have about losing a treasure is going to slow down the process, and you don’t have time to waste.

p.132 Fear: I’m going to make the wrong decision.
This isn’t a fear. It’s anxiety over a situation that feels out of control.
Reframe that anxiety. Think about it this way: You’re gaining more control over your downsizing situation right now! You’re picking up the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions that you’ll be pleased with in the long run.
It’s very likely you are going to make mistakes, but that’s the nature of working through the accumulation of a lifetime. Accept these as expected moments that don’t require anxiety.

p.140 Fear: I’m scared about my mortality.
This fear is a form of sadness. Here’s a reframing approach that will help you think about it a little differently: This downsizing is a wake-up call that will make you more aware and engaged in the next phase of your life.

Garage sale tips

p.178 Speaking from (a lot of) experience

  • skip the price tags
  • have (or at least start) the sale on a Friday (less competition)
  • advertise well (pay to run it in local lists and papers) use “estate sale”
  • pretend you are running a store, make things neat and clean, play nice music, enlist at least 4 people to help on that day.

Selling online

p.184 Helpful strategies

  • find the right price (half of the original price or less) find comparable items online
  • describe the item well
  • take great pictures
  • respond to user questions

Please read Walsh’s book of downsizing advice for more in depth information and more of his great personality.

If you have lost a parent, or find yourself in charge of clearing out an entire home, it feels so overwhelming! I’ve done it myself and as an organizer, I’ve helped other people as well. From my experiences, I’ve written a guide to help you.


Above everything, be kind to those helping you and especially kind to yourself.