How to Use Declutter Questions to Make Purging Decisions

I wrote this post almost two years ago in the midst of preparing for my move.  It’s a simple example of how I use pertinent declutter questions to help me with the purging process.  I hope you find these questions helpful in your own organizational journeys.

Let’s face it, one of the hardest things about the organizing process is making the decisions about what to do with all our stuff and I’m no exception to that. While I can often let go of things pretty easily there are still times it’s difficult even for me. This was the case a couple of weeks ago when I sat down to organize all my serving ware. I was doing a great job, already having set aside quite a few pieces to go to the thrift store, when I came across this lovely piece.

And then next to that one, this totally divine piece of art:

I am smitten with daisies and I just absolutely adore this unique daisy platter. Problem is I also love the first one as well. I mean it is in a basket after all :) However as you can see they are both divided dishes and I’ve never used both of them at the same time.

I started to feel my heart race because I felt like it didn’t make sense to keep both and I knew I needed to make a decision to purge one. Which was it going to be?

This was a critical moment for me.

I could panic, bury my head in the sand and just put off making the decision for another day OR I could tackle this decision head on. Putting off the decision wasn’t going to make it any easier for me later and procrastinated decisions = clutter which is why I was organizing the cabinet in the first place.

Now was the time.

I took a deep breath and got ready to ask myself the tough questions I knew were required in this situation.

1. Do I love them? Yes I love them both but one in particular I had a real soft spot for.

2. Do I use them? How long ago did I use them? I don’t use either of them regularly and never at the same time. I do use the daisy one more often and most recently at Christmas time.

3. Do I have the space to store both without it being a cluttered space? No

4. Am I willing to give up something else in this space in order to make room for both? No I was pretty set on all the other decisions I’d already made.

4. Can I imagine myself or anyone in my family ever loving it or needing it in the foreseeable future? Nope, they couldn’t care less.

As I started to ask myself these questions and the answer began to become obvious to me, my anxiety eased up. I hated to get rid of one of them because you know what if I needed it one day but the truth is I hadn’t used the basket one in over a year and it wasn’t my favorite of the two. That cemented my decision for me and I went ahead and placed it in my donation station box.

I felt great that I’d made a decision.

Do I have a special organizing gene unique to me that keeps clutter at bay? Not at all. I simply have learned the necessary skills to walk me through the decision making process. Do I still get anxious about it. Yes sometimes but the great thing about practicing and using these types of decision making skills on a regular basis means that each time the process gets easier and easier and doesn’t take nearly as long.

Where at one time it might have taken me longer to make a decision, now with practice and acquired skill it is not something I fear. I know the benefits will far outweigh the anxiety I feel in the moment.

Morale of this story:

1.  Ease purging anxiety by asking yourself some very important declutter questions as outlined above.  The decision required may become more obvious to you when you begin to talk it through.

1. Procrastinated decisions = clutter. Practice making those kinds of decisions regularly (it helps if you start small) and it will get easier for you. Your confidence with grow as a result.

2. Have a donation station but don’t let it hang around too long before donating the contents. Whenever I work with clients I always take the donations with me at the end of the day because it’s just so easy to second guess ourselves. Out of sight, out of mind. Move on.

Have you made any organizing decisions lately? What have you been able to let go of recently?

Related posts:

Clothes Purging – How to Let Go

Filed under: Purging
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Comments

18 Responses to How to Use Declutter Questions to Make Purging Decisions

  1. 1
    Lisa says

    Great questions! I’ve still got more boxes to sort and I will definitely keep these in mind when I get to the tough stuff!

  2. 2
    Sandra says

    Good questions to ask yourself! In my opinion, you made the right decision on the dish. I actually have the same divider dish (the one with the basket) and as soon as I saw both of them in the photo, I immediately thought you should keep the daisy dish. :)
    I actually find that the basket can be a little flimsy for those heavy ceramic dishes when lifting it as one and sometimes I find the dishes are a little too large for what I’d like to use them for.

  3. 3
    Megan says

    I think it’s great that you talked about it causing a small bit of panic. I think that sometime people think that people like you and I don’t have trouble with decluttering and can’t relate to it.. I get a little pain in the chest when I have a big job ahead of me. It goes as quickly as it comes for me and some people may really benefit from hearing that.

  4. 4
    Kerry says

    Love the daisy! Hunt for a green or red bowl approximately the same size as inner yellow, and bingo – you made it perfect for holidays too! :)

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Brilliant, I never would have thought of that!!

  5. 5
    TyKes Mom says

    I love this! I am a decluttering fanatic. You have stated so perfectly what you should ask yourself when you start decluttering. Those questions really lessen anxiety and help you make logical choices. Excellent!

  6. 6
    L2L says

    I think the daisy was a great choice!!!! My mom has always been a pack rat. I can’t stand having anything in my house that does not have space and I am already training my children that when you bring something into the house that usually means something has to go. We always purge toys and books at Christmas and birthdays!!!!! My usage limit is 3 months, if I haven’t used it in 3 months, then its gone if I have a hard time keeping it where it belongs. But I am so glad you kept the daisy… I really read the entire post just to see which one you chose, lol!!!!!

  7. 7
    Sinea says

    I loved this post before and am so glad to read it again. Decluttering can take some hard decisions but it’s worth it!

  8. 8
    Beth R says

    I have followed you on Pinterest and on FB but just found you here tonight.
    I keep my small home clean and picked up, I am an empty nester (yuck, thats the first time I’ve described myself that way) and constantly looking for organization tips.
    However, I recently read something that has stuck with me” You can’t organize clutter”
    So, my next hurdle is purging. I absolutely cant do it with certain items.
    I have dreamt of hiring a professional just to hold my hand through the process, but it is not in the budget.I felt your pain when deciding on those serving pieces, but I also would have kept the daisy.
    I cant use the 3 month-1 yr rule, I mean there are items that I might only use every couple years. My turkey platter for instance, if I get rid of it based on the 1 yr rule then I would be buying a new one every other year? My cookbooks? My baking sheets, pans, dishes? My hand tatted pillowcases? I cant just throw those away, even though I dont use them because they are so delicate. Do I love them? Yes Do I use them? No .You see my dilema?
    How do I just get started?

  9. 9
    Susanne says

    A timely post as I really need to take a good look at my serving ware. I know I’m hanging on to stuff I’m likely never going to use.

  10. 10
    Michaela Stephens says

    Great job of revealing the questions to ask yourself when de-cluttering. And at the end, it comes down to making the decision to let it go. I think a lot of people get hung up on this part and they need lots of support from a friend (or a professional organizer) to make the hard decisions. People need to hear from an objective source that it is going to be okay, the sky won’t fall if they decide to get rid of it.

    Love your blog name, by the way. I’m totally an organizing junkie too!

  11. 11
    Jen says

    This is awesome. Just what I needed. I’m in process of “spring cleaning” & have trouble letting some things go. This is so helpful, thanks! :~)

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