Decluttering isn’t always a walk in the park. In fact, it can be downright difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start.
For most people, just finding the motivation to declutter in the first place is an obstacle. And even if you do manage to muster up the energy to start decluttering, it can be tough to know what to keep and what to get rid of.
Do you really need that vase that’s been collecting dust in the back of your closet? Or those jeans that you haven’t worn in years but keep “just in case”?
If you’re feeling stuck, don’t worry.
Before you can start decluttering your home, you need to ask yourself some questions to get a better understanding of what you can declutter and what needs to stay.
By answering these decluttering questions, you’ll be well on your way to clearing the clutter and making more space in your home.
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- Life after decluttering: What happens next?
- Decluttering Rules: 13 Important Things To Do When Decluttering Your Home
- How To Tell If You Have Too Much Stuff: 13 Significant Signs
- Why Is Decluttering So Hard: 9 Reasons You Can’t Clear The Clutter
- How to Declutter Craft Supplies: 6 Simple Tips For Your Creative Space
- The decluttering process
- 18 Decluttering Questions
- 1. Do I love it
- 2. How often do I use it
- 3. Would I buy it again
- 4. Does it fit my current lifestyle
- 5. Is it meaningful to me
- 6. What is its sentimental value
- 7. Can I live without it
- 8. Do I have a place to put it
- 9. Would someone else get more use out of it
- 10. Am I afraid I'll need it in the future
- 11. How easy is it to keep tidy
- 12. Do I already have one of these
- 13. Can I borrow this instead
- 14. Is there something I can use instead of this
- 15. Does this work
- 16. Does this add value to my life
- 17. Did I remember I had this
- 18. If you were moving house, would you take it with you
- Final thoughts on these decluttering questions
The decluttering process
You can’t just start decluttering without a plan or without getting into the decluttering mindset. Just like every project we take on in our lives, decluttering needs some structure to be successful.
How do you want the space to look after you’ve finished decluttering?
Coming up with a clear goal for decluttering is a great place to start. Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can begin to put together a plan of action.
When you can picture the end result, that’s when you can get started with the decluttering decisions. And you can start by asking yourself these decluttering questions.
18 Decluttering Questions
1. Do I love it
We all buy things we once loved, or even things that we thought we liked but then never used.
When decluttering, assess each item and think about whether you still love it or not. Be truly honest with yourself.
How does this item make you feel when you look at it or use it?
Remember that you may have once loved this item, but that doesn’t mean you still do. And it’s ok to let something go when you no longer get the same joy out of it that you used to.
2. How often do I use it
There are things that you’re supposed to use often and others that you could go a whole year without using – I’m talking about the Christmas tree here!
Remind yourself how often you use things as you’re going through your clutter. Be realistic about when you last used them.
If it’s a shirt that you haven’t used in a couple of years, the likelihood is that you’re not going to wear it again anytime soon. You might have even forgotten you had it!
With clothing items, I usually say if I haven’t worn it in a year, then it’s safe to donate. I’ll have gone through each of the four seasons over the year and if I haven’t found a time to wear that item during this time, chances are I never will.
3. Would I buy it again
There are always things we hang onto ‘just in case’ but when you actually think about it, if you didn’t own this item and you saw it in a shop, would you buy it again?
A good decluttering tip is to think about whether you would re-buy the item if it was ever lost or broken. Would you really miss it?
If it’s something that you wouldn’t buy again, chances are you don’t really like it that much and it’s probably something you can live without.
4. Does it fit my current lifestyle
We all change over time. Whether it’s your taste in clothes or your lifestyle in general, chances are you’re not the same person now as you were even just a few years ago.
As your life changes, so too should the things in it. If an item doesn’t fit with your current lifestyle, it might be time to get rid of it.
For example, you might have a sports car that you loved when you were younger but now you have a family and need something more practical. It might be time to sell the car and get something that better suits your needs.
5. Is it meaningful to me
We all have things that are special to us, and that’s ok! It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else, other than you.
But when you’re decluttering, it’s important to be able to differentiate between what is meaningful and what is just sentimental.
An easy way to do this is to think about whether the item in question brings back fond memories or not. If it does, then it’s probably something you want to keep.
Keeping thing that are meaningful to you is a great way to make sure your home is full of happy memories.
6. What is its sentimental value
I touched on this above, but sentimental items can be different to meaningful items.
Sentimental items are often things that have been handed down to us or given to us by someone special.
It’s quite an unpopular opinion, but I say you don’t have to hold onto every sentimental item you were ever given. These were things someone else loved. Not things you love.
It’s ok to let go of sentimental things if they don’t align with your taste or style.
Remember: You memories are in your heart and your mind, not in things.
7. Can I live without it
This is a great decluttering question to ask yourself, especially if you’re struggling with whether or not to keep something.
The truth is, we can live without almost everything in our homes. The things we own are just that: Things. The majority of them are not essential to our survival.
If you’re really stuck on whether or not to keep something, try going without it for a month. If you don’t even notice it’s gone, then it’s probably something you can live without.
8. Do I have a place to put it
Before I buy anything these days, I always make sure I have a place to put it when I bring it home.
There’s no point bringing more things into your home if you don’t even have a place to put them!
If you don’t have space for certain things, the chances are that you’ve already got too much clutter.
Think about where this item can be stored and if you really want/need/love it, try to get rid of something else instead – that way you’ll make space for this one.
9. Would someone else get more use out of it
Donating items to charity is a fantastic way to declutter your home, and it’s also a great way to help those in need.
If you have things that you no longer need or want, but someone else could benefit from them, then it’s definitely worth considering donating them.
Not only will you declutter your home, but you’ll also be making someone else’s life a little bit better. Win-win!
10. Am I afraid I’ll need it in the future
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had these kinds of thoughts before. The fear of regret.
“What if I need this in the future? I don’t want to get rid of it just in case.”
The thing is, you’re probably never going to need most of the things you’re holding onto “just in case”, especially if you haven’t used them yet.
If you’re really worried about getting rid of something, check if a friend has one already that you could potentially borrow if it came to you needing it some day. Then you can get rid of your own.
11. How easy is it to keep tidy
Puzzles with hundreds of pieces, clothes that need to be ironed, things that need to be dusted – these are all things that can make decluttering and keeping your home tidy more difficult than it needs to be.
If something is easy to keep tidy, it’s much more likely that you’ll actually do it. If it’s not, then chances are it will just become another item on your to-do list that never gets done. And it becomes something that gets shoved in the back of a cupboard, never to be used.
Each item in your home comes with it’s own chore, and it’s important to assess if these chores are worth your time and effort.
12. Do I already have one of these
How many times have you bought something, only to find that you already had one hidden in the back of a cupboard later on?
You’re not alone!
Duplicate items should be pretty simple to declutter because you know you already have one. Pop it in the donation box straight away and you can move onto the next thing.
13. Can I borrow this instead
I don’t own a hairdryer. Can you believe it?
More often than not, I tend to wash my hair and leave it to dry naturally. On the rare (and I mean once a year) occasion I do need to quickly dry my hair for a specific event, I’ll borrow from a friend who lives in my building.
There’s no need for me to own a hairdryer because I hardly ever use one.
The same goes for other items, such as a power hose that you might use once a year, or an electric saw. These are all things you can borrow from friends and family rather than taking up precious space in your own house.
14. Is there something I can use instead of this
Since starting my minimalism and decluttering journey, I’ve become a lot more intentional in using things that have more than one use.
For example, rather than having a pizza cutter, a cheese knife and a bread knife, I just have one good kitchen knife that can do all three jobs.
Try to declutter these novelty items that you only use for one thing and see if there’s something else that has multi purposes that can do the job instead.
15. Does this work
Old kitchen appliances, clothes with holes in them, toys that are missing pieces – if something is broken or doesn’t work, then it’s taking up valuable space in your home for no reason.
Most likely, you can’t use it, so what is it doing hanging around?
Faulty things can end up being more hazardous than useful. If it’s an electrical kitchen item, it could be a fire hazard. If it’s something made of glass that’s broken, it could cut someone.
If an item is broken or doesn’t work, the best thing to do is get rid of it as soon as possible. You can then look at whether you need to replace it or whether you’ve been able to live without it all this time and don’t actually need it after all.
16. Does this add value to my life
It’s important to ask yourself whether the things in your home are adding value to your life or not.
Do they make you happy? Do they help you to relax? Are they useful?
If the answer is no, then chances are it’s clutter. Clutter is anything that doesn’t improve your quality of life or add value to it in some way.
It’s important to recognise the difference between things that add value and things that are just taking up space. The more value an item has, the more likely you are to want to keep it.
17. Did I remember I had this
You know during ‘spring clean’ when you go through your clothes and find a jumper you forgot you had? And it’s still got the tags on it?
Yeah, that happens to all of us, although I must admit it’s happening a lot less for me these days since I started being more intentional with my shopping.
The thing is, if you forget something exists, then chances are you don’t need it. The same goes for anything else in your home (not just clothes).
If you can’t remember collecting 12 coffee mugs when there’s only two of you in the house, it’s probably time to declutter some of them.
18. If you were moving house, would you take it with you
Decluttering for a move is one of the best ways to get rid of things you don’t need because it forces you to be really intentional with what you keep.
You can’t take everything with you when you move, so you have to be picky about what stays and what goes.
But this is a great way to approach decluttering in general, not just for an upcoming relocation.
If you were moving tomorrow, would you take this item with you? If not, then you know it’s probably something you can live without.
Final thoughts on these decluttering questions
These powerful decluttering questions will help you to get rid of anything that isn’t serving a purpose in your life.
The goal is to surround yourself with things that add value, whether that’s in the form of happiness, relaxation or usefulness.
By getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit into those categories, you can declutter your home easily and effectively.
So ask yourself these questions the next time you’re feeling like your home is a bit cluttered and see what difference it makes.