When it comes to decluttering anything in your life, the most challenging part is not the physical act of removing the items. No, in fact, that’s the easy part.
The hardest part of decluttering is making the decision of what stays, what goes and the process of emotionally letting go of things that once meant something to you. Things that, at one point in your life, evoked some sort of emotion or held fond memories.
This is where most people get frustrated or overwhelmed and give up.
If you want to finally finish those decluttering projects, and not have to down a bottle of wine while you’re doing it, then you’re going to need to be completely ruthless and honest with yourself. You’re going to need to make some tough choices and be okay with letting go.
Easier said then done, I know!
Below, you will find 10 questions to ask yourself while you declutter. As you work through a space in your life, ask yourself these questions to help you make those difficult decisions that will come up. If you can’t answer “yes” to at least 3-4 of these questions, then it is time to remove the item(s) from your life, whether that be the “donate” or “trash” piles.
These questions will work with anything you are decluttering, from physical items to digital stuff. Write them down or keep them where you can see them so you can visit them over and over again while you declutter! Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Have I used this in the last year?
This is pretty self explanatory but it’s important for you to evaluate how often you use/read/refer to an item. When was the last time you used it? Has it been in the past year?
2. Would I buy this if I was shopping today?
If you were at the store today, would you bring this item into your home? So often, we buy something because we feel like we HAVE to have it. But, our tastes can change over time and something you had to have two years ago may not fit in with what you like today. And that’s okay!
3. Could this be more useful or bring joy to someone else?
Sometimes, an item may not be useful to us anymore or be adding anything to our life but might be everything to someone else. Pass it on!
4. Would I miss this if I no longer owned it?
How many times have you held onto something because you felt like you would miss it if it was gone? Stop doing that! Each time you come across an item that you are thinking of getting rid of, be brutally honest and decide if you would actually miss it if you didn’t have it in your space any longer.
5. Am I keeping this because I don’t want to waste money?
Here’s the thing: you already spent the money. And holding onto something that you don’t actually want it is not going to make that money re-appear in your bank account. Stop keeping things because you are afraid of wasting money! That money was gone the moment you spent it on whatever the item is!
6. Am I actually going to get this broken item fixed?
You need to either commit to fixing the item or it’s time for it to go. It’s as simple as that. Give yourself a deadline if you are going to commit to fixing it or get rid of it!
7. Do I have something else that is similar in use?
Do you really need three different brands of blenders or three different kinds of waffle makers? Probably not. If you have multiple items that are similar in use, keep one of them and let go of the others!
8. Am I only holding onto this for sentimental reasons?
If you are holding onto something purely for sentimental reasons, there are a few things you can think about. Can you reuse the item? Re-purpose it? Display it in some way? If the answer is “no” to all of those questions, then maybe it is time to see if you can pass the item on to someone else who may be able to say “yes” to some of those!
9. Am I keeping this because I feel like I should?
Take the word “should” out of your vocabulary. Just because someone else thinks you SHOULD keep something, doesn’t mean they are right. It’s up to you to make that decision. Do not, I mean do not, keep item(s) because you think it’s wrong to get rid of it. Only keep something in your space that you truly want to be there!
10. Does this feel like mine?
Most of us, at one point in our life, have gotten hand-me-downs. To be honest, until fairly recently, our entire home was filled with furniture, pieces of art and misc. decor from other people. But, it never felt like ours. This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself while decluttering. Does this feel like mine? Or does it still feel like whoever had it before you.
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