Whether you are just getting started decluttering or you’ve been decluttering for some time, you may be finding yourself in a rut. When you feel stuck, there are key decluttering questions to ask yourself about each of your items.
Answering these questions will be just the push you need to get out of your rut and into decluttering success.
The Key to Decluttering Success
When we don’t have a clear vision for our home and life, it is all too easy to find ourselves making little to no progress on our decluttering goals.
If you haven’t done so already, write down your vision for your future, as well as your home’s future. Be as specific as possible.
If you’ve already written down a clear vision, revisit it again so that it is back in the forefront of your mind.
You will need this clear vision of what you want for your home in order to honestly answer the decluttering questions I am about to suggest to you.
If you have a lot of decluttering to do, consider hanging this vision in a special place where you will see it often as you go through the process of removing the clutter from your home.
Before you begin to declutter your home, grab my free decluttering checklist by becoming one of my email insiders! I send out a monthly newsletter full of awesome resources and tips to help you simplify your entire life.
How to Recognize Clutter
And speaking of clutter…I like to define clutter as anything that doesn’t deserve a place in your life.
We all have these things that are taking up precious space, time, and sometimes money. This clutter absolutely does not deserve a place in your life because it is keeping you from living the kind of life you want to live!
So, it’s important to declutter your mind, schedule and home.
Our possessions only deserve a place in our homes if they are adding value to our lives.
There are different reasons something might be truly valuable to us. A valuable item is one that we use, enjoy, cherish, or need. Without these important reasons, an item is of no value to our lives, and in fact, can be taking away value from our lives!
So, with that understanding of value and your clear vision in hand, let’s proceed with some powerful decluttering questions to ask yourself to begin decluttering more effectively.
11 Powerful Decluttering Questions
As you look at an item or a group of similar items, ask yourself these decluttering questions to help you determine if these items are important enough to keep around:
1. Does this add value to my life?
This is my favorite question to ask. It is powerful, because it forces us to think about an item in terms of worth. When you have a clear vision for your future, it is easier for you to answer.
An item of value will move you towards your vision instead of keeping you from it.
2. Do I use this often?
Be honest with yourself about how often you use something. If it’s something you use only once a year or less often, is it something that you could borrow from a friend or rent?
And if you don’t remember the last time you used it, it’s probably time to let go or make a plan to actually get use out of it in the near future.
3. Do I have more than one?
Sometimes we hold onto duplicate items unnecessarily. We may literally have multiple of the exact same thing, or we may have very similar items. Either way, it’s time to decide how many is necessary for your life.
Keep your favorite and declutter the rest. (You know you were only ever using your favorite one anyways.) 😉
4. Do I have something that works better?
This question helps us further dissect our answer to the last question. You don’t have one go-to item, but if you think about it, there is one that clearly works the best. That’s the keeper!
Don’t forget to consider if you have multi-purpose items that could take the place of the other items in your home. For example, having a good food processor could take the place of some knives, a shredder, and maybe even a blender.
5. Do I really need this?
Another one of the most powerful decluttering questions is, “Do I really need this?” When you ask yourself this questions, think about if the item is essential to your life. Could you live without it?
6. Is this necessary for my current lifestyle?
I’ve heard it said that we all have a “fantasy self”…the self that we wish we were rather than the self we are in reality.
It’s important to recognize when we are keeping items for our fantasy self. You know, the self who practices yoga four days a week, travels around the world, and reads a variety of literature to stay well-rounded.
If we can be honest and say that we are just not that person, even if just for now, then we can rid ourselves of some additional clutter in our lives. The yoga mat and accessories can go, the 6-piece luggage set can go, and so can the books we will likely never have time to read.
It may seem harsh to let go of these things, because it feels like giving up on our dreams. But remember, if these are truly dreams of yourself, decluttering will help you actually realize those dreams.
And, you can always purchase, rent, or borrow these items again in the future if your lifestyle changes.
7. Do I love looking at or using this item?
The decluttering questions previously mentioned help us determine the current usefulness of our things. This question will help us decide how much we enjoy our things.
If it’s something that you use often, do you enjoy using it?
Not everything we own needs to be particularly useful, though. For those things, it’s important that we enjoy them. Asking yourself if you love looking at an item can help you decide if you truly enjoy it.
How do you feel when you see that item? Take note and keep or declutter accordingly. We don’t want to keep items that make us feel bad or discouraged.
8. Does this properly represent who I am or who I want to be?
The next several decluttering questions help us determine if our stuff deserves a place in our futures specifically.
Think about who you want to be, not the “fantasy self” I mentioned earlier, but the kind of person you want to be when you think about what’s most important to you.
Then, you can decide if the things you own properly represent who you want to be, or if they’re at least helping you become that person.
For me, I know that I want to be a person who isn’t attached to my things, but who loves people first and foremost. I’m a minimalist who wants to minimize the clutter in my life.
So for me, I want to keep only the items that help me love others well. Anything that makes me more self-centered, resentful, or anything else negative, needs to go.
9. Is this something I would like to bring with me into my future?
Again, if you have a clear vision of your future, this decluttering question will be easier to answer.
You can literally try to picture an item in your vision of your home. Does it belong there? Does it seem out of place?
If so, let go of it now so that you are moving in the right direction starting today.
10. Will this be beneficial to my life going forward?
Ask yourself if your current possessions will be moving you towards the kind of life you want to live, or keeping you from it. Maybe there are items that aren’t preventing you from moving forward, but they are definitely slowing you down.
Is it worth all the extra time and effort when you know that you could be living your ideal life sooner?
11. Does this deserve a place in my life now or in my future?
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that clutter is anything that doesn’t deserve a place in our lives. It’s important to know what is deserving of being in your life.
Items that are hindering your growth do not deserve a place in your life. Possessions that are more of a headache than they’re worth do not deserve a place in your life.
Additional Decluttering Questions
If you find yourself saying, “No, but…” to any of the decluttering questions above, it may be helpful for you to honestly answer these more specific questions:
Am I holding onto this out of guilt?
Sometimes it’s necessary for ask about our reasons for keeping things, rather than the items themselves. If you have a really hard time letting go of things, it’s important to understand exactly why.
Often times, we can feel guilty about decluttering our things. We may feel that it’s wasteful, or we might have a hard time with sentimental items or gifts.
If this is you, make sure you check out my post on things to easily declutter without the guilt. In this post, I give you a list of 90+ things to declutter, as well as tips for people who feel decluttering is wasteful or are very sentimental.
Am I saving this just in case?
You may be the type of person who holds onto things “just in case”. You know, just in case relatives come over, just in case I start playing tennis again, just in case there’s a tornado….
If you find yourself doing this, make sure you are considering the likelihood of these events happening. And, consider if these items will actually get used in said scenario.
Maybe you have fancy dishes for when guests come over, but you know you will most likely use paper plates to avoid having to do dishes when they are there.
Also, if you keep a lot of items “just in case”, would you even know where to find it when you needed it? If we keep too many things just in case, they can get lost in all the stuff and become useless to us.
Do I have enough space to properly store this?
Another helpful decluttering question is about being realistic with the amount of storage you have.
You have a clear vision for your home, one that’s neat, organized, and perfectly represents your personality and lifestyle. You can’t keep more than you have room to properly store.
No amount of organizers, boxes, and storage solutions can fix your problem if you simply have too much stuff for your space.
Are these items keeping me from using the space in the way I would like?
Along the same lines, your items may fit, but are they keeping you from using the space the way you wanted?
You might have an office that’s full of clothing or an unfinished basement that’s really a glorified storage room. If your items are keeping you from using a room or space in the way you intended, it’s time to reevaluate.
Next time your decluttering progress is stalled, come back to these powerful decluttering questions to determine the value of each of your possessions. Answering these questions will get you out of your rut, moving you closer to your ideal life.
Is your decluttering progress stalled? How will asking yourself these questions help you get out of your rut? Let us know in the comments!