Last week, I followed a discussion on Facebook. The basic question was how to know when to part with something (or someone) and when to hold on to it. I touched on this topic in some of my posts before, but I thought it may be worthwhile to reflect on it again. I looked at my own decluttering journey, the big wins and the big mistakes. And I think I can drill down my learnings to three key points. Or call them rules. Hopefully, they’ll make it easier for you to decide what to declutter – and what (not) to invite into your life in the first place.
How to Decide What to Declutter
- Love your reason.
- Love the story an item tells you.
- Ask your future self.
Love Your Reason
This rule not only helps you decide what to declutter. It also prevents you from (repeatedly) inviting things into your life that will never make it onto your list of favorites. From my experience, it’s almost impossible to make the right buying decision based on the wrong reason. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you decide to buy a new dress. If it’s because it makes you feel fabulous, I can guarantee that you’ll get many wears out of it. But if you bought it only because it’s trendy or on sale, it will most likely sit in your wardrobe, gaining dust. Admittedly, this is a very simple example. The reasons why we buy somethings are often complex. All the more important is it to question the motives behind every purchase. Don’t buy anything just because. Love your reason why. Or, as Marie Kondo would say, don’t buy anything that doesn’t truly spark joy.
The best time to check your reason is, of course, before you proceed to the checkout. But it can also help you decide what to declutter.
Love the Story an Item Tells You
Too often, we hold on to things that make us – when being honest to ourselves – feel bad. We hold on to clothes that remind us to lose weight. We hoard books that tell us we’re not enough. Or we keep sentimental items, even though the memory attached to them isn’t at all a positive one. But why? Because we feel obliged to keep those things? Believe me, there’s no good reason to hold on to something if you don’t love the story the item is telling you. No matter who has given it to you, how much money you spend on it, or for how many generations it has been in your family. If something makes you feel bad, please, get rid of it.
Ask Your Future Self
‘To think from your future self’ is actually a phrase I picked up from Tonya Leigh (School of Self-Image). She often refers to it when talking about choosing the right way and making the right decisions. This perspective is also extremely helpful in deciding what to declutter. Your surrounding greatly influences what you think, and thus, how you feel. This means when you chose carefully what to let go of and what to hold on to, you can create a surrounding that either supports or sabotages you. Hence, when unsure if you want to keep (or buy) something, ask yourself if it fits into the life you want to create.
Do These Rules Only Apply to ‘Things’?
No. Absolutely not. It’s just so much easier to explain using ‘things’ as an example. However, you can apply the above rules to everything you do, e.g., the books you read or the courses you take. Moreover, the same thoughts can also be applied to relationships. It sounds a bit odd to say “declutter your relationships”. But essentially, this is what we have to do when we want to grow. But more on this, maybe in another post.
And there you have it. These are some thoughts or rules that can help to decide what to declutter. I hope they’ll make the decision a little easier for you.
More Tips and Inspirations
First of all, a few basics in regards to decluttering:
- The KonMari Method: All You Need to Know + Printable Checklist
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Pros and Cons
- Wardrobe Inventory: Questions Beyond “Does It Spark Joy?”
And never forget that our digital life needs attention, too:
- How to Declutter and Enrich Your Social Media Life
- How to Declutter Your Inbox and Reduce Email Stress
- Declutter and Better Organize Digital Files in 5 Steps
Of course, making thoughtful buying decisions is far better than decluttering. Here are some tips on how to shop mindfully and better:
- How to Become a Mindful Shopper
- Mindful Shopping: 20 Things I No Longer Buy
- Home Accessories: Buy Less and Better
If you like the ‘less, but luxe’ idea, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips and inspirations. And don’t forget to join my email list to receive weekly updates plus content that’s exclusively available to my readers.
Thanks for sharing this post and your thoughts!
How do you decide what to declutter? Do you find it difficult to let things go? Share your thoughts and experiences. I’d love to hear from you.