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Using Business Principles to Downsize a Home

This boss got the job done using a few ideas from work.

By Terry O’Reilly

After my wife passed away, there were five of us left sharing our family home: me, my two sons and a pair of dogs who had come to believe that they were in charge of the house.

In the two years that have gone by, life has assumed a new normal. And in that time, we’ve had the growing realization that our home of 17 years isn’t right for us anymore. It isn’t that the house is a little tattered around the edges — who among us isn’t? It’s the inescapable fact that it is simply too big, far more home than we need.

Once we had this realization, we all (except maybe the dogs) knew what we needed to do: Downsize.

The dictionary definition makes it seem easy: Down·size (doun′sīz′) (v.) To reduce in number or size. To simplify (one’s life, for instance), as by reducing the number of one’s possessions. To become smaller in size by reductions in personnel or assets.

But for us, “downsize” meant a logistical and emotional challenge, the likes of which I had not expected. And with the process now well underway, I’ve come to understand that downsizing isn’t just about getting rid of physical things: it’s also about releasing the emotional burden that comes with them.

Going through this process has taught me that no one should underestimate the amount of work — management, really, of things, people and feelings — involved.

Embrace your inner downsizer, and let your mantra be “When in Doubt, Throw it Out.”

As I thought about this, I realized I could turn to principles I use every day on the job (as Chief Content Officer of Twin Cities Public Television, which produces Next Avenue) to get me through.

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