Friday, June 19, 2015

10 questions to help you get through your de-cluttering.

a lot of funny things happen when you start a big de-cluttering project, but one of the least avoidable is the tendency to get stuck. i mean, its a breeze weeding out the obvious trash, and i like to think most of us have a pretty good idea of what our actual essentials are. but then in the middle theres all this... other stuff. the stuff youre not so sure about, the stuff that has potential, the "maybe" pile. 

through our purging  process, weve gone through a lot of maybe piles. and while some have been more difficult to get through than others, we seem to have found a good way to figure out what stays and what goes: asking questions. now, obviously this approach probably works best when youre working with a partner, but i do think that it can also work well for solo de-cluttering too (even if it might feel a little bit silly). 

so, when you get to those things that arent an obvious keep or toss, what should you ask? here are a few of our suggestions: 

1. do i currently use this? ive noticed that a lot of our clutter tended to be older things that maybe we used to use/like but dont anymore, like books, craft/hobby supplies, and decor-type items. while these things might technically be useful, they werent useful to us now so we decided to let them go. 

2. will i reasonably use this in the near future? obviously not everything own HAS to be something you use every day (especially things that are seasonal, like christmas decorations and outdoorsy equipment), but, if you have to make up a complicated (and unlikely) scenario to justify keeping a particular item (for instance, at one point james tried to convince me that we needed to keep a FOURTH camera bag in case between the two of us we needed a separate bag for each camera we own...), you should probably let go of it. 

3. is it worth the space/moving it again and again? james and i moved four times in our first year and a half of marriage, which meant that we had a LOT of boxes of miscellaneous orphan stuff that got shuffled around and shoved in random closets without being sorted through, and upon closer inspection, we realized that wed rather have the closet space than deal with those boxes every time we move. 

4. is it easily replaceable/borrowable? sometimes its hard to make a decision on the bigger things (that maybe you dont want keep storing), because what if you need it later? this is totally understandable, BUT, on the other hand, if its something that could be borrowed or replaced in the event that you need it, then maybe you dont have to keep it around. 

5. would i be in trouble if i didnt have this? on the flip side, there are lots of "just in case", rarely used things that are worth keeping around because not having them on hand when you need them would be an actual problem (especially things like tools and emergency supplies and spare blankets).  

6. am i benefitting from owning this? in recent months ive gotten rid of HUGE amounts of vintage housewares and jewelry/accessory type things. why? because as cute as they all were, they were just sitting around collecting dust and getting in my way. sure they were objectively useful and attractive things, but they werent doing me any good, so they had to go. 

7. could somebody else make better use of this? on a related note, it can be helpful to consider if things would be used or enjoyed more by somebody you know. for instance, once upon a time we were gifted a HUGE amount of high-end loose leaf teas, which were nice, just, not really our thing. so instead of letting them sit around and get stale, we gave them to a friend that really likes tea. it was a total win-win for everyone. 

8. have i used this since i last moved/purged? since all of our previous attempts at purging were done on tight time constraints (and actually, every time weve moved has been on super short notice), a lot of our "maybe"s became "well deal with this later"s because we had to move on. well, upon re-visiting all of this stuff on our latest (slowest, most thorough) purge, we realized that most of those "maybe"s hadnt even been touched. so out they went. 

9. why am i keeping this? im going to be completely, brutally honest here: sometimes we (and by that i mostly mean i) keep things around for really, really bad reasons despite knowing full well that we do not use/like/benefit from owning that thing. reasons like "ive had it a really long time", "so-and-so gave that to me", "it was expensive", or "maybe ill use it someday". i could write a whole other post about this (and in fact, maybe i will), but long story short, do not keep things for bad reasons. trust me. 

10. how many of this thing do i need? at one point cleaning out my closet (maybe a year or so ago), i noticed that i owned something like six blazers. now theres nothing wrong with blazers, except for the fact that im a stay at home mom living in southern california. is it unreasonable for me to have a fancy jacket? not at all. do i need six of them? absolutely not. now i have one, and a LOT more room in my closet for the things i actually do wear. 

hopefully, you wont have to ask ALL ten questions about each item in your "maybe" pile (though, in some instances where james and i didnt agree, weve gotten through quite a few of them before reaching a decision), but, they can be very handy in guiding your de-cluttering efforts. 

are you doing any de-cluttering right now? how do you decide what stays and what goes? 
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1 comment:

  1. I always ask myself will I even use it this year? Nope :( So many craft supplies got tossed. I like the thought of having so many ideas but if I'm not even doing it.. it's a waste of space.

    It's horrible when you finally get to decluttering and you unearth forgotten pieces. I always get stuck on those!