5 Questions: Deciding to Keep or Purge

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

On the spectrum of keeper or purger I fall clearly in the camp of purger. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. Here are five questions I ask myself to decide what to keep or purge during each clean out.

We purge our home of clutter quarterly because even though we are mindful about what we bring into the apartment, stuff piles up over time. Here are five questions I ask myself to help decide what to keep and what to purge.

  1. When was the last time I actually used it?
    If the answer is more than five months, it probably needs to leave the house. Even though I love having a clutter free space, I can be very sentimental about some items. I use this rule to force myself to part with things in order to see if I can really let them go. I am ruthless about obeying the five month rule when I am sorting. Everything unused gets put in the purge pile. Period. The trick to making this work is to use the 8:00 a.m. rule. I never actually get rid of the purge pile on the day it is made. I’ll always sleep on it to see if I really want to get rid of an unused item or put it to good use. (See number 4 for an example.)
  2. Does it serve more than one purpose?
    I really like living in a clutter free environment. In order to do that, we tend to have things that serve multiple purposes. For example, we don’t have a tea pot because it is just as easy to heat water in a pan. If something passes the five month test but it is taking up space and doesn’t serve more than one purpose I consider getting rid of it.
  3. Do I like it?
    This seems like an obvious rule, but it is critical. There is no point of keeping something around if it is not liked.
  4. When will I get around to finishing this?
    I like projects but I don’t always finish them quickly. This is one of the reasons a quarterly purge is necessary in our household. Inevitably, every time we purge, there is a half finished project that has been collecting dust for a month. If I decide that I don’t like the project enough to finish it within a few weeks of the purge, then it has to go. This decision serves a double purpose because it either removes the clutter from our home or it motivates me to finish things that didn’t have a deadline.
  5. How much is it worth to me today?
    I have made the mistake of holding onto too many things because the memory of what I paid for them kept me from letting them go. If the item doesn’t have a high value in my life right now then it isn’t worth holding onto, regardless of how high the purchase price was.

How do you decide what to purge or to keep during a clean out?


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