Decluttering helps in creating a calmer space, a less stressful work environment, and a healthier and happier life… when done right.
That being said, decluttering requires some kind of balance between what you need to keep and how much you can afford to let go.
If it’s your first time to declutter, you may find that some things are easier to let go than others.
Now you may experience that it’s hard for you to let go of some things. That’s okay. It just means that you will need more practice to completely clear the clutter in your home.
That is why it is important to always start with the level that you are comfortable with.
You don’t want to keep tossing every item in your home, thinking it is no longer important, only to find out after a month that you still needed it.
So I’m here with these decluttering questions to ask yourself.
Consider these questions as your guide so that you will be able to really determine whether an item is still worth keeping or not
SOME QUESTIONS CAN BE TOUGH AND RUTHLESS.
But these will make you clear the clutter right now.
There are only FOUR major questions here. The rest are just follow up questions to help you answer the major questions and narrow down whether your stuff is really worth keeping.
DECLUTTERING QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
1. Do I need this?
If you still need an item, it must be kept. But how do you know if you really need it?
Here are more questions to clarify that.
- Do I use it on a regular basis?
Regular can mean everyday, every week, every month and every season.
If yes, keep it.
There’s no reason getting rid of things that you regularly use.
- When was the last time I used it?
If it has been more than a year since you used it, you probably don’t need it anymore.
- Will I use it in the year ahead?
It’s a yes – keep it.
If you don’t know whether you will still use it next year, keep it in a box first, set it aside and wait for six months to pass.
If you don’t use that within that time frame, you can safely conclude that you won’t need it anymore in the future.
Now if you think that six months is still not enough allowance, you can extend it to a year. This is especially true if you live on a low income, and it will be hard for you to replace the item should you need it again.
- Do I have a similar item that serves the same purpose?
It’s okay to keep duplicates.
The real question here is… how many duplicates do you really need?
Do you need 50 pens just in case you ran out of ink?
- Would my life be a little less convenient without it?
If it makes your life a little bit easier, it’s worth keeping. But if it makes your life difficult, toss it.
- Can I hand it down to another member of the family?
Many items like clothes and toys can be handed down to the next kid in line.
Decide whether you are really going to give it to one of your family members. If yes, you should keep it.
2. Why do I have this?
For things that you don’t really need, ask yourself, why are you still keeping them?
Here are more questions to help you go deeper into that.
- Am I saving this just in case?
It’s okay to keep items just in case.
It’s just that, just-in-case items do pile up. If you find that you are keeping lots of just-in-case items, the next questions can help you decide whether it’s time to let go of those items already.
- Can I easily replace it?
Just in case you need the same item in the future, will you be able to buy it immediately?
If the item is worth $10 only and there’s a nearby thrift store, you can safely assume that you can buy it immediately when you need it in the future.
You can let that item go.
Now what if it costs $100? And you need an hour or two to get it.
Are you willing to spend $100 on it?
Is it okay if it takes you an hour or two to have it?
If it’s a yes, then it’s okay to get rid of it now.
- Would I buy this if I were shopping right now?
If the answer is yes, you should keep it.
- Would I be devastated if it gets damaged or lost?
If you will be devastated when a thing disappears, it means you love that thing, so it’s not clutter.
- Do I feel good with it?
Like for example, on clothes, do you feel good wearing a particular clothing?
If not, get rid of it now!
- Is this enhancing my life?
Books, for example. I have lots of personality development and relationship books at home.
I decided to keep them because from time to time, I browse those books.
It’s not as regular as daily, weekly, or monthly, but those are really helpful books that I decided to keep because I want them to be available anytime I need a reference.
And yes they enhance my life.
So I keep them.
Anything that helps you be a better version of yourself is worth keeping.
- Does it fit the overall look and feel I want for my home?
If yes, keep it.
- Is this something I’ll want my children to see one day?
Perhaps there’s an item that you want your children to see when they come of age.
It can take you years to keep that. But if it’s worth it, then you should keep it.
- Am I holding on to this for sentimental reasons?
Things like this are difficult to let go. But just knowing the fact that you’re keeping an item for sentimental reasons is already a good start.
Save a virtual copy if you can have one, like photos. Then let it go.
For a gift, parting with it doesn’t mean you are ending your relationship with its giver. You are not required to keep something if you don’t love it, even if it is a gift from a very special person in your life.
- Am I holding on to this because of the money I spent on it?
If you don’t want to let go of an item because you feel like you just wasted money if you do, let me introduce you to a different kind of thinking.
You have already spent money when you bought that item. So if you’re not using that at all, it means the money is wasted already, whether you keep it or not.
Keeping it or tossing it won’t make any difference now when it comes to your money being wasted or not.
But it’s going to make a difference when it comes to your space.
If you let it go, you’ll have a vacant space for an item that is useful and valuable.
But if you keep it, it will only accumulate dust.
So for now, just forgive yourself.
And let it go.
Perhaps there’s someone who will want to buy it? In that case, sell it, and take some of your money back.
However, salable or not, let it go and use the vacant space for something of more value.
- Am I keeping this out of obligation or expectation?
We often have expectations of ourselves. Some are even unrealistic.
Like when you buy lots of baking tools because you want to learn to bake, or you are expected to love baking.
The problem is you don’t have time baking.
It’s not something you hate doing, but it’s just that there are more important things you have to do right now.
Perhaps 10 years from now you will finally find the time for baking.
For now, there’s probably someone who need those things more than you do.
You can purge those items without regret. Just purchase again when you will actually use them already.
3. Is it worth fixing?
This is for broken things that you may be holding on to because you plan to fix them in the future.
It’s a good thing if you can fix them but sometimes they stay broken for a long long time.
To avoid that, here are decluttering questions to ask yourself again.
- Will this thing really be fixed?
Sometimes you don’t even know the answer to that question. You’re just hoping it does get fixed someday.
That someday must have a deadline – NOW.
So determine today if it still can be fixed. If you don’t know, find someone who does.
If it still can be fixed, move on to the next question.
- When will I get this fixed?
The sooner… the better.
Don’t wait for one year before you get it fixed. If it will take that long, then it’s better to just get rid of it now.
- What if I just buy something new?
If you can just buy a new thing to replace your broken item, then there’s no more reason holding on to that broken thing.
Toss it and reward yourself with the new one.
4. If I had to move to another country, will I bring it with me?
When you move to another place, most likely, you will only bring the things that are important to you.
You will be forced to decide whether an item is worth keeping or not.
You can use this question to tackle tougher items – those that you know you don’t need, but find a hard time letting go of.
DECLUTTERING IS NOT A RACE.
A word of caution.
Don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to others.
Because it’s just different for each one of us.
So decluttering is also a different experience for each of us.
Declutter according to your own pace.
Focus on having a clutter-free home. And remember that with consistent effort, you will soon have that.
Which of these questions resonate with you most? Feel free to hit the comments below.
Looking for more decluttering tips and inspiration, check these out!
- How to Declutter on a Low Income
- 12 Easy and Creative Ways to Make Decluttering Fun!
- 10 Creative Ways to Keep Motivating Yourself to Declutter