These 5 Questions Will Help You Declutter Any Space in Your Home

These 5 Questions Will Help You Declutter Any Space in Your Home

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Taryn Williford
Sep 11, 2018
(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Decluttering a space is a gargantuan task, no matter how small the space itself might seem. That's because the real challenge isn't how much stuff you have, or how messily it might be lumped around. The really tough part of decluttering is when you pick up a single object in your hand, knowing you have no good reason to keep it, but finding it impossible to let the thing go.

When you're trying to, say, slim down your closet or empty a drawer (both tasks we're going to take on this month with September Sweep), you have to work through those "maybe I need this?" mental gymnastics over and over and over again. It's exhausting.

So as we move swiftly through our month-long organizing mission, I think it's helpful if we arm ourselves with a handful of questions that can serve as a rule book: If you can't say "yes" to any of these questions, it's a sign that the thing you're considering is ready to be passed on to another home.

The Rules

If the answer to all of these questions is "no," get rid of it.

1. Have I used this item in the past year?

This one's easy. Try to remember a time when you used the thing you're weighing on. If it hasn't been worn, used, or appreciated since last fall, let it go.

2. Will I use it in the year ahead?

Try to resist any thoughts about how you "might" use it, and find something more concrete: Will you use it? If you don't have a real need or plan to do something with it, the answer is "no."

3. If I was shopping right now, would I buy this again?

Does it work? Does it fit? Do you have another thing that does the same job? Do you even like it anymore? Try to be present and mindful about your current tastes, habits, and priorities.

4. If it is broken, is it worth fixing?

Consider whether you would use the broken item if it were in good shape (see question #3 above). And weigh the cost of fixing the thing against the cost of replacing it. And will you actually get it done? Soon?

5. Would I keep this if I moved?

Would it be worth packing up, moving, and unpacking in a new space? We tend to be a little more ruthless and honest with ourselves about what stays and what goes when we're moving from one home to another.

If you can find some way to carry the rules with you throughout the month, do it. Print them out, write them down in a notebook (I love seeing your September Sweep bullet journal layouts!), or get the questions up on a memo board. When you're able to glance over at the questions as you declutter, you can be ruthless and move fast.

Today's Assignment:

Clean out one drawer.

Armed with the rules, your September Sweep assignment today is to clean out just one drawer. Anywhere in your home. The drawer you pick (and how much work it needs) is totally up to you. Maybe you want to tidy up your junk drawer, your messy makeup drawer, or the catch-all drawer in your nightstand. Or maybe it's not a "drawer" at all—you can dig in on a storage basket or small cabinet if that's where you'd like to start.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Take everything out of the drawer and run it through the rule book, casting aside anything that doesn't pass the test into the "sell" and "donate" boxes we set up yesterday. Take everything that does pass muster and put it back into your new, leaner, lighter drawer.

Doesn't that feel great? Tell or show me which drawer (or "drawer") you worked on today—you can share your thoughts or photos in the comments below.

All month long, we invite you to share your progress here in the comments and on Instagram with the #septembersweep hashtag!

Check out all the assignments so far on the September Sweep 2018 Main Page.

Download the printable PDF calendar:
September Sweep 2018

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