Decluttering Questions that Help You Let Go of Stuff

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I am not a lover of clutter. It seems the older I get the more stuffocated I feel when things start to add up. I crave space, breathing room, and love knowing exactly where everything is. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the best house keeper or anywhere near OCD, but opening a closet or cupboard and being able to see each item clearly with plenty of empty space feels peaceful to me.

Decluttering is quite trendy now, especially after Marie Kondo published her books about tidying up. She suggests we hold up each item we own and ask ourselves – Does this spark joy in my life?

I love that. It’s a great beginning. But, for some of us it’s just not enough.

There are other questions we have all heard before that work well, too.

  • Have I used it in the last year?
  • Does it still fit?
  • Is it still in good condition?
  • Do I have duplicates of the same item?

But, some of you may still be feeling attached or unclear about some items you no longer need. I have a few more questions I use with my clients that might help clear that up.

If I was out shopping today, would I buy it again? – Most of us have closets full of old clothes that no longer go with the newer things we wear. Our personal style evolves and it may be hard to let go of items that are perfectly good, but we probably will never use again.

Would it be more meaningful to someone else? There are many people in need who would love to have some of our old stuff. There is a good chance it will enhance their lives a lot more than it does ours.

If I moved cross country, would I take it with me? Last summer when I moved from California to a small town in Missouri it was clear to me that bringing some of my stuff would be like dragging along old baggage. Not that it was bad stuff. I just wasn’t sure it was worth paying to ship or giving up valuable space in my car for.

I rented one shipping pod and limited myself to what I could fit in it. This made each decision more clear because whatever I took would use up precious space. In the end, I sold or gave away half of what I owned and it has made my life feel a lot more peaceful.

How do I feel when I look at it? Our subconscious mind is constantly providing clues that we can use in this process. When you look at each item does the energy of it feel heavy or light? Does it feel good or like a burden? Keep the light things and let the heavy ones go. Just imagine how good your life would feel if you did this all the time.

Is it worth the maintenance and cleaning it will require? This is why I don’t have a lot of knickknacks. Owning them is not worth the time and energy it takes to dust them. I don’t need unnecessary chores. I would rather spend my time on something more meaningful.

On a scale of 1-10 how valuable is it to me? Choose a number as the cut off point. My clients usually say 7 or 8. Anything that is rated at that number or above is a keeper and the rest goes.

Keep in mind, the idea here is not to overload you with questions, but to give you more options to choose from. Try them out and focus on the ones that feel right for you. 

I know I will be using them soon, myself. Now that I live in Missouri where there are seasons I find myself evaluating my wardrobe more. Pulling out long sleeved tops and sweaters this week made my closet feel cluttered. I’m not going to let it stuffocate me and I know the questions I have shared here will help.

What about you? What area of your life can use a little decluttering?  You can share by commenting below. And, if you would like professional support as you clear out stuff, you can contact me here.

Related posts:

The Gifts of a Simple Life

A Sense of Order Soothes Your Soul

Living the Small Town Life


26 thoughts on “Decluttering Questions that Help You Let Go of Stuff

  1. Sam @ The Haunted Housewife says:

    For me, the most important question is: If I moved across country, would I take it with me? I used to have an addiction to shopping. I was never a hoarder, or anything extreme but I loved getting new stuff. These days, I get more of a thrill when I get rid of stuff! I feel so free 🙂

    • Linda Luke says:

      Funny how that shifts in us… I still like to buy clothes a little bit, but now that I’m using what I call a peaceful wardrobe system that is very simple that doesn’t come us as often. After a summer of only about 15 items in my entire closet I hate fill it up with more things. I think the key for me is having a plan and getting things that go together instead of buying haphazardly.

  2. Melissa says:

    Good questions to ask. I find I get attached to things – mostly because of the memories they hold for me. Even clothing can trigger great memories.That’s why I find it so hard to let go of some things. Yet, like you, having too much stuff seems to add an element of stress due to managing the stuff.

    • Linda Luke says:

      Sometimes when we want to hold onto memories we try to hold on to all of the things that remind us of that time. I usually pick the one that memorializes the moment best to keep for sure and then some of the others are easier to let go of. I ask myself – how much do I need to remember this? Sometimes taking pics of things like the clothes (or other items) is a way to keep them without the bulk of keeping them.

  3. Magaly says:

    I totally agree with the idea that the older we get the more we feel like decluttering! At least that’s been my experience! I’m going through a “need to get rid of everything I own” phase and your questions are really helpful. I WANT to declutter but then I start with the old “what if…” questions and it makes it hard. Thanks for the help though:)

    • Linda Luke says:

      Glad to help. You”just need to find the questions that feel right for you or go totally by intuition and momentum. I ask my clients if they could replace the item or find another solution in those future “what if” moments. They usually can.

  4. Teri says:

    “Stuffocated”…best word ever!!! 😀

    Great and helpful article, Linda. As I am looking to move to a new place and relinquish my 2-year storage unit soon, my goal is downsizing my stuff by a LOT!

    Blessings, Teri

  5. Willow says:

    I have gotten rid of many things throughout the years. I wish I had this list for one of my decluttering sessions. There are a couple of items that I miss!

    • Linda Luke says:

      Sorry to hear that. Sometimes we can go a little too far. I went to paint my deck and had no old pants I was willing to get paint on. But overall, decluttering mostly results in feeling good.

  6. I am trying to get better at this. I think the one thing that is so hard for me is that I have trouble letting go of things like writings and stuff. Now I’ve started to move to digital but as some one who has written short stories and poems most of my life. It has been the hardest part to getting my energy unblocked.

    • Linda Luke says:

      Another question for paperwork might be: If I really feel a need to keep this can it be scanned and saved online? One of my paperwork issues is tearing out articles or things that spark ideas in me. So, I created a document to write the ideas in on my computer and have a notebook on my desk where I can store new ones quickly as I see them. The notebook is a lot better than a bunch of paper and the doc in my computer is even better.

  7. This is so good. I also feel better when there is space and room to breathe. I have been going through items like crazy getting ready to be rid of it all. Meanwhile, I am trying to get my 4 yo son and my husband to jump on the bandwagon with me. We will be moving again in 1.5 years and I don’t want to move so much junk (we just moved about 6 months ago).

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