Ever wonder how to decide what to keep when decluttering? Marie Kondo and her Konmari method recommend asking ‘does this spark joy,’ but many of us need something a bit more practical. Here are 12 decluttering questions to ask yourself when purging and organizing your home.
The Konmari method can work very well for some people. But for others, they may have no idea how to know if something sparks joy. They may have a clutter problem because they think everything sparks joy.
If you are looking for a way to know when and how to get rid of stuff, these decluttering questions will be a lifesaver!
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Decluttering Questions to Ask Instead of ‘Does This Spark Joy’
1. When was the last time I used this?
Think back to the last time you used the item. Likewise, ask yourself when the next time is that you’ll use it.
If you haven’t used it within the last year, and have no realistic reason to believe you’ll be using it soon, it’s time to part ways.
2. Does it have a specific place in my house?
Be sure that the item already has a place that it belongs. If it doesn’t have a home in your house, it’s time to either find it one or get rid of it.
Also ask yourself if the item is worth the space it takes up. Our homes are seldom big enough to hold all the stuff we wish they did. It’s important to use our space intentionally, and only for things worth keeping around.
3. How many similar items do I have like it?
Do you have multiples or similar items, and do you like some of those duplicates more?
Or maybe you own something that would work just as well.
For instance, you have to be sort of ruthless when decluttering clothes. If you have 12 black t-shirts, you just don’t need them all. Pick a few favorites and unload the rest.
4. Does this item benefit my life on a regular basis?
Why do you own it?
What purpose does it serve, and would there be an impact on your life if you got rid of it?
There has to be some hierarchy to what you keep. If you have 50 cookbooks, only keep your favorites that you use often.
5. Are you saving it ‘just in case?’
This is one of the big reasons that it’s so hard to declutter. We hang on to things because we think we might need it someday.
I can promise you that the item probably isn’t so rare and valuable that you couldn’t replace it in the hypothetical ‘someday’ when you might need it.
If you do need it eventually, the truth is that you can either rebuy it, borrow it, or use something similar in its place.
6. Can this help someone else?
When deciding what to keep, ask yourself if someone else could really benefit from the item.
It’s often easier to part with something if you think about a recipient who really needs it.
Maybe you know a college student who could use some of your kitchen items.
Or think about how the local Goodwill will benefit from your generous donation. Or the person who buys it there, trying to survive on a tight budget.
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7. Would I buy this again?
Would you spend your hard-earned money all over again for that item? Likewise, did it end up being worth your initial investment?
If you brought the item into your home because it was a ‘great deal,’ ask yourself if you would have paid full price for it.
8. Is it worth fixing?
This decluttering question works especially well if the item in question is broken.
Would you try really hard to fix this thing, or pay someone else to?
If it isn’t broken, ask yourself if you’d bother to fix it if it did break.
9. Do I feel like the best version of myself when wearing or using it?
When it comes to decluttering clothes, be sure only to keep the stuff you feel fabulous in. Nothing else is worth keeping!
For non-wearables, do a little self reflection to see if this item fits in your life right now.
If you’re keeping it for some past version (or potential future version) of yourself, please stop! It probably just makes you feel bad.
10. Am I only keeping this out of guilt?
Sometimes we hold onto things just because we think we should.
That’s not a good reason for it to live in your home forever.
Some reasons we might hold onto something out of guilt is if we received it as a gift, or if we spent ‘good money’ on it. Or perhaps we have some guilt-induced sentimental value attached to it.
Decluttering can be challenging enough without adding guilt to the mix.
It is highly unlikely that the person who gave it to you will ever even know you passed their gift along to someone else.
And don’t fall into the ‘sunk cost’ trap. You already spend the money anyway, and keeping it in your room forever isn’t going to suddenly make it worth the money.
Remove it from your life and move on.
11. If I were to move, would I bring it?
That is, would you want to find a box, carefully pack it up, transport it in a truck to your new home, unpack it, and find a new place for it?
If not, then you probably don’t really care about it that much. Do you really want to cart it around forever?
12. Would I miss this if it suddenly disappeared?
If the item went missing without you knowing, would you even notice?
This is such a great question to ask yourself when decluttering. It really makes you think about whether or not you’d ever actually seek out that particular item.
13. Can I make money if I sell it?
When all else fails, money talks. Making some extra money can be just the inspiration you need to decide where to start when clearing clutter.
Whether you have a garage sale, or post the item on Craigslist or in a Facebook group, the call of making a profit can be so encouraging.
You might just have lots of money ‘lying around’ your apartment or house.
Related: 21 Easy Ways to Earn Extra Money
Declutter, and be free!
Hopefully these decluttering tips and questions gave you some strategies for what to consider when getting rid of all the stuff weighing you down.
While there is nothing at all wrong with Marie Kondo’s ‘does it bring you joy’ question, it may not work for all of us.
If you’re not sure how to know if something sparks joy, or just want a more practical approach, these decluttering questions should do the trick!
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P.S. Don’t forget to grab your free Declutter Your Home Checklists!