I know firsthand how hard it can be to let go of items, especially those that are sentimental. I used to be a hoarder and kept items that held no true value in my life. Soon enough, I was overwhelmed by the things I owned and knew that something needed to change. It got to the point where possessions consumed my life and created negative stressful energy around me.
I started my journey to minimalism about two years ago and never looked back. I’m proud to say that I own a healthy amount of items now, which only add true value to my life. I believe that is how a home should be – full of only the things you love.
Below are 15 simple questions to help you declutter and kick-start your organizing marathon.
Does this item spark joy in my life?
I put this as the first question because I believe it’s the most important. This question has helped me so much over the years because I use to be a hoarder. I eventually realized that I would much rather be surrounded by the few items I truly love, than by thousands with little value just for the sake of having “stuff.”
Whenever I shop, I try to evaluate whether an item is something I love completely or if I like some aspects of it but not all. If the latter is the case then don’t buy it. If you don’t completely love it then it has no place in your home. Remember, quality is always better than quantity.
Is this something I can’t live without?
If you can live without it then chances are it’s not truly adding any value to your life. In that case, it’s better off being donated to someone who will truly cherish it.
Do I truly love it?
If you don’t truly love the item, then there is no reason to keep it. If it’s not something you cherish then all it’s doing is taking up space that could be used for something better. Your home is a safe haven and should only contain items that nurture a sense of warmth and comfort. If you’re keeping items invoke a sense of guilt, sadness, or any other negative emotion than it shouldn’t be in your living space.
Does this add value to my life?
If an item doesn’t add value to your life then there is no reason to hold onto it. Your space should only be reserved for possessions that serve a purpose or bring you joy.
When was the last time I used it?
If you haven’t used the item in the last two years then it’s time to let it go. Your home should only be filled with items you use on a daily basis. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, like items used for special occasions or deeply sentimental items. But for the most part, if you never use an item than it’s better to give it away to someone who will use it.
Would I buy this again?
If you wouldn’t buy the item again, then chance are you didn’t really cherish it in the first place. In that case, it’s time to get rid of it. You can save the space for something better.
Do I already have something like it?
If you have duplicate or similar items, then ask yourself if you really need them all. Usually one is enough.
Why am I holding onto this?
By asking yourself this question, you are evaluating the reasoning behind wanting to keep an item. A lot of times, by going through this self-evaluation, we realize that our reasoning behind keeping an item is trivial or doesn’t make sense. This extra measure is a great way to filter out items that we don’t really want or need.
Does this item have a lot of sentimental value?
I completely understand wanting to keep valuable items and I am not here to say you can’t or you shouldn’t. All I am advocating for is to limit the amount of sentimental items you have. If you have 4 full rooms and 2 storage sheds full of sentimental items than you need to prioritize what items have the most value to you. By keeping only the most special items, you highlight their importance and value instead of them getting lost because there are too many things to focus on.
Does this item need to be repaired?
I am all for repairing items, but only if it’s something you know for sure you can and will fix. A lot of times people will keep broken items with the idea that someday they might fix it. However, that someday usually never ends up happening. That’s why, if you keep a broken item, set a realistic date for when you will fix it. If you don’t fix it by then, then throw it away.
Could I use this space for something else?
If I have kept something that I know I need to get rid of because it’s collecting dust, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to do it, I ask myself, “is this really worth using up space that could be reserved for something better?”
Am saving this because I might use it “someday?”
If I kept everything because I thought it might serve a higher purpose someday than I would be buried in clutter and never get rid of anything. Although it’s comforting to think that the items we hold onto will be used in the future, you have to be honest with yourself and ask, “what is the likelihood of that actually happening?” If you aren’t using it now and haven’t in a while, chances are you won’t get around to it in the future.
Am I saving this out of guilt?
I struggled with this the most when I first started my journey to minimalism.
People usually save items out of guilt for two main reasons: 1) the item was a gift 2) You feel like you are wasting money by getting rid of it.
I understand how hard it is to let go of guilt. But, it weighs you down and burdens you. You need to surround yourself with things that will bring joy and positivity into your life. If you don’t love an item that someone gave you, then thank it for the role it has played in your life, and let it go. I promise you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders.
As far as guilt associated with wasting money, realize that the money you spent on the item is never coming back. By keeping the item, you are burdening yourself with more clutter. It’s best to let it go and use it as a learning experience to be more mindful of what you buy in the future.
Am I saving this to use ”just in case”?
We often keep things “just in case” some unforeseen circumstance arises in the future. These situations are pretty rare, and if for some reason they do happen, we usually forget about the item we are saving ‘just in case’ anyways.
You have to be realistic and ask yourself, “What is the likelihood this scenario is going to happen?” And if it does happen, will you really remember to use the item for its intended purpose? Or will it just collect dust in a drawer somewhere?
I can take a good guess that the item will never be used, so it’s best to give it away now to someone who will actually use it.
Could someone else benefit from this item more than me?
If you have an item that you don’t really love, then imagine someone else benefiting from it. Picture a young child or someone in need picking the item up and feeling good about what they found. This motivates me to let go of items, even some that were sentimental because I know someone out there is taking better care of them and giving them the attention they deserve.
Every time you hold an item in your hand, ask yourself these questions to help you declutter and get rid of the item based on your answer. I promise you this is a very effective technique and you will see amazing results in no time!