Are you looking for a helpful list of questions to ask when decluttering?
Marie Kondo famously encouraged us to ask “Does this spark joy?”—but I know this question doesn’t resonate with everyone. Decluttering is personal and many of my readers have told me that they need a bit more help deciding what to keep and what to let go.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share some questions that supported me on my own journey from shopaholic to minimalist. These questions helped me view my clutter with new eyes, so I could easily identify it and clear it from my life. Hopefully, something on this list helps you find a fresh perspective as well.
4 Questions That Will Help You Declutter Your Home + Life
HOW DOES THIS ADD VALUE TO MY LIFE?
Whenever I’m decluttering, I like to start with a clear vision of what I want to achieve. What will this space look like when I’m finished decluttering? What will I be doing in this space? And perhaps most importantly, how do I want to feel when I’m there?
I keep this vision in mind while making decluttering decisions and whenever I get stuck, I ask myself: “How does this item add value to my life? Does it support my vision? Or is it detracting from it?”
This mindset really helps me stay focused on the task at hand. It’s a reminder that my stuff is here to serve me, not the other way around. After all, if something isn’t actively adding value to my life then what is it but a waste of space?
As a reminder, your stuff doesn’t have to be “fun” to add value to your life. After all, things like dental floss and cleaning supplies don’t exactly bring me joy! But they do serve a clear purpose and therefore, they add value. Just make sure that value isn’t over-inflated. Sometimes we keep things “just in case” because we think we need them while in reality, they’re collecting dust.
WHAT’S THE TRADEOFF AND IS IT WORTH IT?
A hard truth that I learned early on my minimalist journey is that everything in life comes with tradeoffs. Whether you realise it or not, you are giving up time, money, and energy in exchange for the stuff in your home.
It starts with the initial cost of purchasing an item—but it doesn’t end there.
There are also ongoing costs such as maintenance or storage, environmental costs, social costs and even your mental health. Research has shown that clutter can have biological and neurological effects, triggering stress, anxiety and more.
By acknowledging these tradeoffs, we can make better-informed decisions about our clutter. With all the costs clearly laid out, it becomes easier to see what’s really worth keeping.
As an added bonus, if you create the habit of asking this question before you buy something new, you’ll cut back on mindless shopping and reduce your costs even further.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO BE HAPPY?
For many people, the greatest challenge to minimalist living is knowing how much is enough. What do you really need to be happy? If you can’t confidently answer this question, you’ll spend your entire life chasing more, never feeling happy with what you already have.
This applies to most things in life, from our careers to our closets. Collectively, we’re taught that we should spend our lives in the pursuit of more … but to what extent? Without a clear definition of how much is enough, we’re never satisfied.
The good news is there’s a simple way to tackle this feeling of “never enoughness”—by setting clear boundaries. Sit down and make an intentional decision: how many winter coats do you really need? What about dinner sets? Or spare towels?
You get the idea. Make decluttering your home easier by setting rules for yourself. It might sound restrictive at first but in reality, it’s actually very liberating. Instead of going through the exhausting process of deciding what to get rid of, you’re making the much easier decision of what to keep.
WHY AM I STRUGGLING TO LET GO?
Finally, if you’re struggling to declutter your home, then my best advice is to take a break for self-reflection. Make a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice!), get out a pen and paper, and start exploring your feelings.
I know—this isn’t “typical” decluttering advice—but in my experience, the clutter in our homes often mirrors the clutter in our minds.
An old dress, for example, can be so much more than just an “old dress”. How did you feel when you would wear that dress? What did you believe about yourself? What were your hopes and dreams at the time? The things we own are often a reflection of what we believe about ourselves, which complicates things.
You might find that you need to let go of old thoughts and beliefs before you can declutter your home and life. It’s not easy to do but at the same time, it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with your true self.
The Next Step to Decluttering Your Home + Life
If these questions have inspired you to learn more about decluttering, then I invite you to take the next step.
Subscribe using the form below and get your copy of Mindful Decluttering—my free decluttering guide and workbook. You’ll learn how (after years of failed attempts!) I finally decluttered my home and life.
As an added bonus, you’ll also get my regular newsletter with tips, personal stories and minimalist lifestyle inspiration (but don’t worry—you can unsubscribe anytime).
You might also enjoy reading:
- 6 Powerful Benefits of Decluttering Your Home + Life
- 10 Simple Decluttering Tips For When You Feel Stuck
- The Most Surprising Way Decluttering Improves Your Life
How do you decide what to keep when you’re decluttering? What questions do you find most helpful? Let us know in the comments!