Questions to Ask During the De-Cluttering Process

kate arends minimalism quote
I love this excerpt from a blog post called Minimalism: Are We Doing It Wrong? by Kate Arends of Wit & Delight. Click the image to visit her site!

Who of you are in the thick of it with me right now in this process of reduction? I have been saying goodbye to so much useless stuff around here lately. My journey towards intentional minimalism, if you want to call it that, or to being left with only the essentials, largely started nearly a year ago when I first delved into the capsule wardrobe project.

Once I had my collection of clothing pared down to just the essentials, I started noticing other categories of “stuff” that needed to be sorted through as well. Over the past year, I’ve gradually been working at eliminating the excess of material things in our home. I’ve done a lot of reading on minimalism and de-cluttering, and along the way have learned ways to help me decide what stays and what goes. I decided it was time to compose a list of the questions that I find helpful in determining what meets my criteria for things that get kept. These questions, altered slightly, can also be helpful in deciding when a new purchase is worthwhile.

  • Have I used it in the last week/month/year?
  • Will I definitely use it in the coming year?
  • Does it spark joy? (This question is taken from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.)
  • Does it correlate with my values system? (Non-toxic, space-efficient, beautiful, high-quality, etc.)
  • Do I have space to store it?
  • Would I buy it again?
  • Would I take it with me if I moved to a different home?
  • Would I miss it if it were gone?
  • Would I be happier with the money I could make by selling this, than with the item itself?
  • If given the choice between this and something else, would I choose it?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, there’s a good chance I will be motivated to throw away, donate, or sell the item in question.

I find an incredible amount of joy in replacing junk with empty space. An organized, clean home is something I value highly, and the process of elimination is more conducive to that end than any other task. I continue to be amazed, each time I do a purge, at how content I can be with less than I used to believe. Prime example: there are 4 pairs of shoes in my summer capsule wardrobe. I’ve worn mostly just one of them, all summer long. And I used to be the girl who would take like, four pairs of shoes just on a weekend trip. 😉 How many people in the world wish for just one pair to call their own? I still have a long way to go.

What would you add to this list? How do you determine what is worth holding onto? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

10 thoughts on “Questions to Ask During the De-Cluttering Process

  1. Love this! I have to go through my back room “storage unit” today and this is the perfect post to get me motivated to do so. Especially challenging for a creative person, I’m going to have to get rid of some supplies for projects I had good intentions for, but never accomplished and probably won’t ever! I feel like you could just spend a week with me helping me clear my house! Keep writing about this journey!

    • Yay! Glad this post was timely for you. I hope your day is productive! I’m having a yard sale this weekend, and my dear husband helped me go through our kitchen cupboards last evening. Such a great feeling!

      Definitely take advantage of that nesting urge there, girl! Your energy at this stage of pregnancy amazes me! 🙂

  2. Love this. I majorly purged when we moved and thought I was down to mostly essentials. Then we got here and quickly realized we still had too much furniture, etc. So I sold more on Craigslist and felt good about that. A few months in our new home and I decided on a last minute yard sale to rid of a bunch of smallish items. I LOVE purging and although I still have my kids’ stuff to go through I am getting antsy to purge my own things again, even though I wouldn’t know what to get rid of anymore 🙂 I love your list of questions and the one I ask myself the most, if I’m not 100% sure I want to let it go is, Is this easily replaceable if I find that I actually should have kept it?
    Keep writing Melanie!
    -Kayla

    • I know the feeling! Purging is never a once-and-done. And it’s almost an addictive habit, for the liberating feeling it gives, isn’t it? 🙂

      I love your addition — “Is it easily replaceable?” is definitely an important question as well.

      Thanks, Kayla!

  3. That quote is perfect. It is def a process and journey toward behavioral change that makes minimalism alluring for me. I’m smack dab in the middle of my process and the result is amazing. P.S. I just reduced my shoes down to (4) last night 🙂 PROUD!

  4. Oh Melanie… you inspire me so much! It all looks so overwhelming to me though! I do love the feeling of getting rid of things. It’s been on my list of things to do ever since I started reading your blog. Gotta take it one space at a time!

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