5 Questions to Help You Get Rid of Stuff

Decluttering can be hard for some people. Make it easier by asking yourself these five questions to help you get rid of stuff and live more simply. 

I know spring is normally the season that inspires decluttering and getting rid of stuff, but summer is the season when I get the itch.

Summer is without a doubt the busiest season in our household, which means I am more likely to feel overwhelmed than usual. And when I feel overwhelmed, I purge my life.

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I always tell my clients that the best time to declutter or to overhaul your life is when you’re overwhelmed.

On the one hand, yes, your mind might be totally frazzled or you might be so busy that you don’t think you have time for anything else, but on the other hand, you are without a doubt the most motivated to be ruthless.

When I feel overwhelmed and like life is too much, I channel those feelings and do some purging or decluttering—of my physical possessions, electronic clutter, emails, schedule—any or all of the above.

You might be thinking, “I know, decluttering always sounds like a nice concept, but the reality is that it’s actually hard for me!”

I get it. It’s hard to let go, and it’s easy to get stuck thinking, “What if I need this again?” or “Hmm, how could I use this?”

Maybe decluttering is as simple as asking yourself some better questions!

I’ve got 5 questions for you to ask yourself in the process of decluttering, specifically decluttering your possessions, that I’m confident will help you get rid of more stuff and live a freer life:

1. Can I get away without this?

Instead of asking ourselves, “Can I find a use for this?” or “Will I maybe wear/use this again?” we would be so freed if we asked, “Can I get away without this?” Often, the answer is yes. Can you live without a chip-and-dip bowl with the dip bowl built in in the center? Yes; you could put chips in any large bowl with a smaller bowl of dip next to it. Can you live without that dress that you really only wear to weddings? Yes; you probably own at least a couple other dresses in your closet that are more versatile, ones that you can wear to both weddings and to work and church, etc. When you think about it, we don’t need as much stuff to live a functional and fulfilling life as we think we do!

2. What’s the worst that could happen if I get rid of this? What would I do in that situation?

Ask yourself this question and the follow-up and you might realize you’re clinging onto something more than you need to be. Often, the worst that could happen is that you might actually want or need something like that again in the future. Is that really the end of the world? Nah. The truth is, we can hang onto every little thing in the chance that we’ll need it again (and maybe end up famous on TV for being a hoarder), or we can declutter and be forced to borrow or rebuy maybe .5% of what we got rid of. I got rid of a cheese knife I didn’t like a couple years ago and then needed some for a party recently, so I had a chance to chat with my neighbors and borrow some from them! I was actually glad I had an excuse to stop by and see them!

3. Could someone else use this more than me?

This one’s my favorite! If you get rid of your belongings in an intentional way, this question will really inspire you. My husband and I split up the items we donate among a few different charities based on their needs so we can make sure that the items we let go of become a blessing to others and don’t just pile up in a landfill. When we’re on the fence about giving up some kitchenware or some dress clothes or an extra winter coat, we think about how much more the men and women at the homeless shelter need that item and will appreciate it—much more than we do. It makes giving things away feel joyful!

4. When was the last time I used/wore this?

Be honest with yourself. You probably won’t even remember! If that’s the case, it’s a good sign you should get rid of it. If you think you’ll use it or wear it in the future, but you haven’t touched it in the past year, what makes you think that will change? Psst, a secret for you: Hanging on to things you feel you “should” use at some point just weighs you down and makes you feel guilty for not using it! (Tennis racket or fancy waffle maker that hasn’t been used in 4 years, I’m talking about you.) Acknowledge the fact that those items represents a different time in your life—a good time, yes, but a different time—and that you are now in a different place where you want to focus on things that matter more to you.

5. Does this spark joy?

This is the million dollar question from the insanely popular decluttering and organization book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I was a little skeptical about the book as some of it seemed a little whacky or intense, but I have to say that I believe the author’s onto something with this question. As I’ve applied this question in my own life with my own possessions, I realized that she’s right: The items we own provoke a certain feeling. Paying attention to that feeling as you declutter may help you finally ditch those movies that bring you little satisfaction or that outfit that makes you feel “blah.” There’s a quote I love by William Morris that says, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I think that’s kind of a good motto to live by!

Bonus: Take the Simple Living Challenge

Sometimes we could all use a little motivation to start the decluttering process. brightpeak has created a 14-Day Simple Living Challenge to make it easier for you! Just sign up and get daily emails that challenge you to declutter your home and think about abundance in a new way. Just go here to sign up and start feeling a little lighter today.

Time to get decluttering! Pin these questions if you need to and start with one small area or one category of possessions so it’s manageable. Cheers to simple living!