A Mindful Exercise to Help You Declutter: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
How do you start to declutter?
When you’re ready to declutter but you don’t know where to start you might find yourself overwhelmed.
Marie Kondo will teach that you should only keep items that spark joy when you hold them. While this is excellent advice, it can be hard to know what sparks joy when you are starting out and you are surrounded by drawers, bins and boxes of things you’ve had for years.
In my case, it was hard to know if the item sparked joy because I hadn’t used it enough to know. (See my first post about why I went from a hoarder to an aspiring minimalist). I must have liked it enough to buy it so it must spark joy right?
Take the time to ask yourself simple questions, and be honest
Marie Kondo’s strategy will likely help you eventually, but here is another really powerful exercise that helps me really think about if I am going to keep an item. I had to imagine myself moving and packing up all my things and I asked myself “Is this item worth the effort of moving it to a new home?”
This is especially relevant to me because I have had 5 different addresses in the last 3 years (that’s another story). Don’t make the same mistake I did and assume that the move will help you purge naturally because you can get rid of stuff as you go. You probably won’t have time to purge as you pack and you will just pack everything! Try this process before you have to move.
Purge before packing
I am currently in the process of moving in with my boyfriend and his brother. This is the first time I am moving into a space that is already occupied with other people, things and pets. It made me especially anxious knowing I will have a lot of items to contribute to this home. I decided I didn’t want to allow my stuff to make me feel like an intruder in this new space. When I finally realized my anxiousness was caused by the worry that these items would be a burden on my new housemates, I also realized they were a burden on me, and had been all along.
Since I was able to move slowly into his house over 2 months, I was able to carefully contemplate what I actually wanted to bring with me. I started my slow journey to minimalism about 4 months ago and now was my chance to make a big dent in the pile of stuff. I was able to easily part with duplicate items, such as some exercise equipment and some old sheets. I will be selling my couch and bed.
Experience selling used items
I have also been very busy on Kijiji/Craigslist and Facebook Buy-and-Sell groups to get rid of odds and ends, such as an old film camera I never tried using, or a collectors model truck I got from a company Christmas gift basket. I will write a whole post about my adventures, and frustrations with selling items.
Don’t expect to complete your declutter 100%
There are still a lot of things I have convinced myself to hold onto “for now” and bring along with me to the new house. I have allowed myself to keep 1 tote of “sentimental” things from my childhood, and I do have some infrequently used camping gear that I plan to store. I will keep about 20 books and all my board games.
As indicated by the title of this blog, I am approaching minimalism in a light way and I am finding out what works for me. I can already see the changes in my space and I am already happier knowing there is a little less hidden behind my closet doors.
As mentioned, I really think getting ready for the move has helped me make far better decisions about what I am keeping, so here are some of the questions you can ask yourself when you are trying to declutter. The hardest part is being honest with yourself, I know sometimes it takes five times saying “I’ll keep it a bit longer” to finally get to “Its time to let this go”.
Ask yourself 3 questions
- “How would I pack this up to move it?” If it is an inconvenient size, shape, or weight you might already see how this would be a hassle to move. Or, it might be so obscure that it wouldn’t fit into a typical box category like “kitchen” or “bedroom”.
- “Where would this go in my new home?” Is this an item that currently lives in a “junk drawer” and do you really want to move it into another junk drawer? This turned out to be a really easy one for me.
- “When is the next time I would realistically use this item after unpacking it?” Or, “would I unpack this at all?” This is a reframing of “when is the last time I used this?” and it can really help you shift perspective to imagine yourself taking it out of a box and giving it a new home.
During your next purge session try using these questions. Getting used to answering yourself honestly is a huge step toward your decluttering goals.
Tell me what you let go of by being honest with yourself!