Decluttering: Three Questions to Ask yourself

So I have been on a mission to declutter my home and life. I have been throwing out, recycling, giving away, selling and donating things right and left. 

And I am here to report that.... I am nowhere near finished! My 31 Bags in 31 Days was a great place to start  but it's going to take me longer than a month to really and truly declutter my life. I know that is saying a lot about the amount of clutter I have. 

But I have hauled bag after bag after bag of stuff to the Christian mission. 

Books I donated to the library.JPG

I have donated: three bags of my clothes, 1 bag of Jason's clothes, 1 bag of kid's clothes and baby items, 2 boxes of toys, various dishes and kitchen gadgets, DVDs, Books, CDs etc. etc. 

We have also sold some items and given some things to friends. 


And I have thrown away things. My husband was horrified as I chunked my senior book into the trash can. But years of humidity had made the pages stick together and when I looked at the pages that weren't damaged, I didn't remember any of the faces or places. It's just time to let go. 

And a lot of times when decluttering, that's what it's about- letting go. My husband is a lot more sentimental about stuff than I am. But we only have so much space, and I can't and won't keep everything. So I would rather keep 1,000 photos of my son's first steps than a book of pictures of a time I don't remember and fankly don't care to. 

And it's not hard for me to chunk things because I have a system. Three things I ask myself before giving or throwing away my stuff. I ask myself three question. 

1. Do I REALLY need this item and when was the last time I used this? Okay, so this is really two questions. Whatever. The point it is, if I really needed something I would use it a lot more often. And aside from Christmas decorations, if I really liked something I would use it more. So if it's sat on the shelf in the closet for 6 months or more, chances are I don't want it, need it or use it. 

2. Does this item bring me joy or do I just feel guilty about letting go of it? This one is tough because guilt is a thing in my family. But I had to look at a few things and really ask if those items made me happy, or if I was just keeping them out of duty. A lot of them were things I never wanted and were just given to me because there was no one else to take them. It's not fair for me to have to store them. So out they went to someone who wanted them and could use them. 

This is a big thing, don't let people make you feel guilty about keeping things you genuinely don't want, like, need or use. If it was that important to them they should keep it at their house. 

I know that seems harsh, but the level of anxiety I have allowed these things to cause me just got to a point of being ridiculous. 

3. If I keep this, what else am I saying no to? When we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. We can't just keep bringing more and more and more things into our homes. When we do that, it's called hoarding and that's a compulsion. 

I am not a hoarder. I never want to be a hoarder and I don't want to live with a hoarder (I am talking to you Jason Senn!). So when I keep something that often means I have to get rid of something else, or not bring something into my home that I might like more. (With the exception of black cardigan sweaters. There is ALWAYS room for more black cardigan sweaters.)

These are the guidelines I use. They may seem harsh, but like I said, the amount of anxiety all of this stuff was causing me just didn't seem worth it. 

SO what do you ask yourself before keeping something or letting it go? Leave a comment! I LOVE comments. 

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