Ah, clutter! How do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Today I’m sharing with you 5 questions to ask yourself when you are downsizing, minimizing or just feel like you’ve got too much crap!
#1 Did you use it in the last year?
Our first question is: “did you use it in the last year?” It’s important to think about how long it has been since you used something. This is actually really helpful for clothing items. For example, if you have gone an entire season without wearing something there’s a good chance you’re not going to wear it in the upcoming season. Think about why you did not wear it last season. This is also a great question to ask when you’re reviewing your kitchen gadgets. If you didn’t use something during summer grilling or the holiday season there’s a good chance you’re not going to use it in the year coming up. When it’s been more than a year since you’ve used something you may forget that you even have it. When you do need that thing in the future it’s possible you’ll just go out and buy it, which of course leads to that layering of the clutter in your home.
#2 Do you have something that works better?
Our second question is: “do you have something that works better?” If you have multiple tools that do the same thing then you can downsize the excess. This is a great question to ask yourself when you’re reviewing household tools. If you find yourself using a fork to whisk food or mashed potatoes then you want to ask yourself if you even need specialty tools to do those things. It’s a perfect question to ask yourself when you have duplicate items. Often when I’m organizing a kitchen I’ll find three to five tools that do exactly the same thing and so we gather those tools together and then review them as a group and just pick the best tool for that job. This question of “do you have something that works better?” also relates to paperwork. I’ll ask the question of “can you find this information somewhere else?” or “is there a better place to get this information?” like paper bank statements. If you find that you are getting paper bank statements, never looking at them and checking your accounts online, you can eliminate the paper statements and just find the information somewhere else.
#3 Is it in good working order
Our third question is: “is it in good working order?” If something is broken or needs mending there’s a good chance you’re not going to use it anyway. So when you are decluttering and you’re reviewing things like your emergency supplies, or cleaning products, or household utility items, make sure they’re in good working order. Often when I do whole house decluttering jobs we find dozens of items that don’t even work. That’s a really easy way to declutter, just move all of those items out of your house. Repair it or get rid of it!
#4 Does it spark joy
Our fourth question may be familiar to some of you if you have read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That question is “does it spark joy?” This is a basic question but it really launched this global phenomenon of people reviewing their items to see if they had a positive emotional connection with that thing. This is a great question to ask when you are reviewing sentimental items because we’ve collected all of these objects throughout our lives and some of them represent our past. If you hold it in your hand and it doesn’t make you happy, and it actually brings up a negative memory or something negative from the past – go ahead and get rid of it. You don’t have to keep bringing up that negative emotion. This is also a good question to ask when you’re reviewing items in your home that you use for home decor like lamps, throw pillows, little decorative things, and artwork. If it doesn’t make you happy, go ahead and get rid of it because those items aren’t really part of the function of your home. They are just here to spark joy.
“Does it spark joy?” is not the greatest question when you’re reviewing things like paperwork or tools. Because those are useful items or they may be items you have to keep for legal and tax reason. They may not make you happy at all, but you need to keep them anyway!
#5 Would you buy this item again?
This question comes from Peter Walsh in his book Let it Go. It is: “would you buy this item again?” When you’re reviewing the items in your home ask yourself would you go out today, right now, and pay money to purchase this item. Would you buy this item again if you didn’t already own it? If the answer is no, then get rid of it. This is a great question to ask yourself if you’re keeping things that you know you don’t use that often but you may need them someday. Do you have fear of getting rid of something that is useful? It’s a great question to ask yourself when you’re reviewing things like gifts that someone else has given you, something that you probably would not have bought for yourself but you have it now because it was gifted to you. Also, gadgets that you have laying around the home that you’re not really using.
This is an excellent question to ask yourself before you purchase space like in a storage unit because that is going to cost you money in the long run, possibly thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to pay for storage for things that you’re rarely using or don’t think you should really be keeping, think about the thousands of dollars that you will spend to store that over the years when you could just get rid of it today.