5 Questions to Help You Through a Decluttering Deadlock
Can’t figure out what to do with those items in your “maybe keep” pile? Use these questions to help you make a decision you can live with.
Decluttering can be a tough task — you need to set aside time and prepare yourself to make difficult decisions. On top of that, you have to figure out what to do with all the stuff. Do you store it? Sell it? Donate it?
It’s no big surprise that we get overwhelmed, burned out and hit roadblocks. When decluttering deadlocks happen in the future, try using these questions to see if you can work through them and come to a resolution.
1. Would you feel relief if the item were just magically gone, through no action of your own?
As odd as it sounds, it’s common for people to hang on to things that they don’t actually want or like. They may not even realize they’re doing it. The item could be anything from an old family heirloom to some random object they purchased because it was on sale. But the bottom line is: If you don’t like something, it’s okay to acknowledge that and move forward from there.
Answering this first roadblock question with a “yes,” that you would actually feel relief being free from the item, tells you that it may be time to make your move and cut it loose.
2. Are you hanging on to the item just so you won’t feel guilty?
Another common issue: hanging onto presents given to you — not because you want or like them — but because they were given by thoughtful people who you care about. Letting the item go will essentially make you feel heartless or ungrateful. The problem with this is that if you don’t like and aren’t using the item, it isn’t doing anybody any good by being stuck in a box or hidden away in storage. Now might be time to donate it to someone in need or pass it on to a person you know will make use of it. Wouldn’t that feel good?
Remember, it’s the thought that counts — focus on the thought behind the gift and the kindness you were shown. You don’t need the actual object to be appreciative.
3. Do you want to keep the item for the future?
Keeping some extra supplies on hand for the future can be a convenient and wise thing to do, but there is a fine line between keeping a useful amount and an excessive amount. Consider the following questions:
- Will you be able to easily locate it? Oftentimes stuff being held for future use becomes clutter or gets stashed into boxes of miscellaneous items. If you were to need the item, would you be able to find it or even remember you had it? If you plan to hold on to the item, a “yes” answer to both questions is necessary.
- Will the item degrade over time? For example, batteries corrode, rubber gets brittle, and adhesive loses its stick. How will your item hold up? Try to only keep items that will maintain their function into the future.
- Do you have more stocked up than you can actually use? For example, do you have a pile of free notepads that grows faster than you can use them? Or do you have six tablecloths for get-togethers but only use two? If so, consider narrowing down your stash to just the ones you love.
- Can you replace the item easily? While it’s true that buying in bulk or stocking up during a sale is a great way to save money, it’s important to weigh the monetary savings against the storage space these items will occupy in your home, and how long they’ll need to be stored before you use them.
4. Is the item unnecessary due to a change in life circumstances?
Sometimes an item gets so embedded in our home that we don’t even realize it might not be necessary or wanted anymore. Life changes — downsizing into a smaller home, relocating to a different climate, accepting a new job, gaining or losing family members, having your physical abilities get better or worse — could render some of your belongings useless to your current life situation. Unless the change is a temporary one, consider looking into whether the item still serves a purpose in your new lifestyle.
5. Are you keeping the item just because it was expensive?
Making purchases you regret is inevitable. If the item was inexpensive, it’s much easier to let it go. But consider those expensive ones — the ones you had to save up to buy. Not so easy. If you’re holding on to an object purely because of the financial investment involved, the feeling of relief you get by selling it or giving it to someone who would truly appreciate it may surprise you.
Keep in mind, if something belongs to you, it is completely up to you what to do with that object. Don’t let anyone — including yourself — pressure you into keeping it or not keeping it.
Some items are very sentimental. If you find that you truly can’t part with something, keep it with a happy heart and give it the respect it deserves.