September 5


Decluttering Dilemma? Here’s How to Decide What to Keep!

By Joshua Turner

September 5, 2023

Decluttering can be daunting, but it’s necessary if you want to create a more organized and peaceful environment. The good news is that anyone can learn how to declutter effectively with some guidance.

Before you start tossing things out, understand the benefits of decluttering. A cluttered space can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. On the other hand, an organized space can help you feel more focused and productive.

Once decluttering, you’ll not only create a more pleasant environment, but also improve your mental and emotional well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • Decluttering can improve your mental and emotional states.
  • Understanding the benefits of decluttering can motivate you to start the process.
  • Effective decluttering requires guidance and a well-planned approach.

Decluttering and Its Benefits

Firstly, decluttering can bring a sense of freedom. Getting rid of things that no longer serve a purpose can be liberating and create space for new opportunities.

Secondly, decluttering can provide clarity. Focusing on what’s necessary in your life becomes easier when you have less clutter. It can lead to increased productivity and a clearer mindset.

Thirdly, decluttering can have a positive impact on your mental health. Living in a cluttered environment can cause stress and anxiety. Removing unnecessary items can create a calming and peaceful space, improving your life.

Lastly, decluttering can add value to your life. Removing items that no longer serve a purpose can make room for things that do. It can include new hobbies, experiences, or relationships.

Overall, decluttering can be a challenging but rewarding process. Taking the time to remove unnecessary items can create a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.

Understanding Clutter

Clutter can be defined as any unnecessary or unused items that take up space in your home or workplace. It can cause stress and anxiety, making it difficult to focus and relax. It can be caused by emotions such as fear, guilt, and sentimentality.

When decluttering, understand that clutter is not just physical items but also digital and mental clutter. Digital clutter can include unused apps, emails, and files on your computer. Mental clutter can consist of negative thoughts and worries that occupy your mind.

Clutter can be overwhelming, but taking small steps to declutter can help reduce stress and improve your life. When deciding what to keep, ask yourself if the item brings you joy or serves a practical purpose. If not, it may be time to let it go.

Sentimental items can be tough to part with, but it’s important to remember that memories are not tied to physical objects. Taking a photo or creating a memory box can help preserve the memory without taking up physical space.

Understanding the root causes of clutter and taking small steps to declutter can help improve your mental and physical state.

The Decluttering Process

Decluttering can be manageable with a straightforward process in place. Start by setting aside a specific time each day or week to tackle the task. It will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and make steady progress.


When deciding what to keep, ask yourself if the item is something you use regularly or if it holds sentimental value. If the answer is no to both, it’s time to eliminate it. Create three piles: toss, donate, and recycle. Anything that is broken or unusable should go in the trash pile.

As you go through your belongings, be honest about what you need and what is just taking up space. Consider your available space and be mindful of not keeping too much clutter.

Once you have sorted through everything, take the time to dispose of each pile properly. Toss items in the trash, donate usable items to a local charity, and recycle anything that can be recycled.

Following this process can declutter your home efficiently and effectively. Take breaks when needed and celebrate your progress along the way.

Organizing Your Space

When it comes to decluttering, organizing your space is key. Start by identifying the areas that need to be cleared out, such as your home, kitchen, shelves, wardrobe, and drawers. Then, decide on a system for organizing your items. It could involve sorting things into categories, such as keep, donate, or sell, or organizing items by frequency of use.

Once you have a system in place, make use of your storage space. Consider investing in storage solutions, such as shelves or drawers, to maximize your space. When organizing your items, keep in mind that things that are used frequently should be easily accessible, while items that are used less often can be stored in less accessible areas.

When organizing your space, be realistic about what you can keep. Be honest with yourself about what you use and can do without. Consider donating or selling items that are in good condition but no longer serve a purpose in your life.

Organizing your space is a component of decluttering. Identifying areas that need to be cleared out, implementing a system for managing your items, and using your storage space, can create a clutter-free and organized home.

Dealing with Specific Items

Dealing with specific items can be challenging when it comes to decluttering. Here are some tips to help you decide what to keep and what to let go of:


Books can be tough to part with, especially if you’re an avid reader. Consider donating books you’ve already read or don’t plan to read again. Keep only the books that are meaningful to you or that you plan to read.


Photos can be sentimental, but they can also take up a lot of space. Consider scanning old pictures and storing them digitally to save space. Keep only the photos that are meaningful to you or capture important memories.


Documents can accumulate quickly, but not all are necessary to keep. Keep important documents like birth certificates and passports, but consider shredding old bills and no longer needed receipts.


Clothing can take up a lot of space, especially if you have many seasonal items. Consider donating clothes that no longer fit or that you haven’t worn in over a year. Keep only the clothes that fit well and that you wear regularly.



Paperwork can pile up quickly, but not all of it is important. Keep necessary paperwork like tax documents and insurance policies, but consider shredding old bank statements and other documents that are no longer needed.


Gifts can be tough to part with, especially if given to you by someone special. Consider keeping only the gifts that are meaningful to you or that you use regularly. Donate or regift items you don’t need or don’t fit your style.

Sentimental Items

Sentimental items can be the hardest to part with but can also take up the most space. Consider keeping only the items that are truly meaningful to you and that bring you joy. Donate or sell items you no longer need or don’t fit your style.

The Minimalist Approach

When it comes to decluttering, minimalism is a popular approach. Minimalism is all about simplifying your life by owning fewer possessions and making intentional decisions about what to keep. This approach is often associated with Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, which involves keeping only items that “spark joy.”

To adopt a minimalist approach, start by identifying the valuable possessions to your daily life. This could include things like your bed, clothes, and kitchen appliances. Once you have recognized these essentials, evaluate the rest of your possessions and ask yourself if they add value to your life.

When deciding what to keep, consider the following questions:

  • Have I used this item in the past year?
  • Does this item serve a specific purpose?
  • Does this item bring me joy?

If the answer to these questions is no, let go of the item. The goal of minimalism is not to own as little as possible but to only own what adds value to your life.

To simplify the process, consider creating a checklist or spreadsheet to keep track of your possessions. This can help you stay organized and decide what to keep.

A minimalist approach to decluttering can create a more intentional and meaningful life with fewer distractions and more space for the things that truly matter.

Overcoming Decluttering Challenges

One of the biggest challenges when decluttering is decision fatigue. It’s easy to get bogged down by the sheer number of items you need to sort through and decide what to keep or discard. To combat this, break down the process into smaller, manageable chunks.

Start with one room or category of items, and focus on making decisions for a short time each day.

Another common challenge is fear. It’s natural to feel attached to possessions, even if they no longer serve a purpose or bring joy. To overcome this fear, ask yourself questions like “When was the last time I used this?” or “Does this item truly bring me happiness?” If the answer is no, it may be time to let go.

For those struggling with hoarding tendencies, seeking professional help is important. Hoarding disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires specialized treatment and support.

Staying motivated and focused on your end goal is the key to overcoming decluttering challenges. Keep in mind why you started and envision the benefits of a clutter-free home. You can create a space that brings you peace and joy with patience and persistence.


Practical Decluttering Tips

When decluttering, be practical and efficient to manage your belongings effectively. Here are some valuable tips to help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of:

  • Duplicates: If you have multiples of the same item, consider keeping only one and getting rid of the rest. This will free up space and help keep your home clutter-free.
  • Use it regularly: If you haven’t used an item in over a year, it’s likely that you don’t need it. Consider donating or selling it to free up space and simplify your life.
  • Buy it again: If you’re holding onto an item “just in case” you might need it, consider whether it’s worth the space it’s taking up. If you do end up needing it again, you can always buy or borrow it again.
  • Borrow or rent: If you only need an item temporarily, consider borrowing or renting it instead of buying it. This can save you money and prevent unnecessary clutter.
  • Freeing sentimental items: Sentimental items can be difficult to part with, but it’s important to remember that memories are not tied to physical objects. Consider taking a photo of the item and letting it go to free up space and simplify your life.
  • Be frugal: Be mindful of waste when decluttering. Consider donating or selling items instead of throwing them away, and try to repurpose or recycle items whenever possible. This will help keep your home clutter-free while also being environmentally conscious.


Following a few simple guidelines can make the process more manageable and less overwhelming.

First, consider your confidence level when deciding what to keep. If you love an item and it brings you joy, it’s likely worth keeping. Similarly, if a thing is valuable or has sentimental meaning, it may be worth holding onto.

Next, think about your vision for your space. Keeping items that align with your vision will help create a cohesive and comfortable environment.

Additionally, be mindful of your budget. While it may be tempting to hold onto everything, it’s important to consider the financial impact of keeping unnecessary items.

Finally, remember the decluttering rule: if you haven’t used or worn an item in over a year, it’s likely time to let it go. By following this rule, you can ensure that you’re only keeping valuable items that serve a purpose in your life.

Overall, decluttering is a personal process that requires thoughtful consideration by considering your confidence, value, love for an item, vision, meaningfulness, budget, usefulness, and the decluttering rule.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some questions to ask yourself when deciding what to keep or get rid of while decluttering?

When decluttering, it’s important to ask yourself questions like: Do I use this item regularly? Does it bring me joy or have sentimental value? Is it worth the space it takes up? These questions can help you decide whether to keep or get rid of an item.

How can the 80/20 rule help with decluttering?

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In terms of decluttering, this means that you likely only use 20% of your possessions regularly. By identifying and focusing on these items, you can declutter more efficiently.

What is the rule of 5 for decluttering?

The rule of 5 involves getting rid of 5 items every day. This can be a helpful way to gradually declutter your space without feeling overwhelmed. Over time, these small actions can lead to big results.

What are some tips for decluttering sentimental items?

When it comes to sentimental items, it can be challenging to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. One tip is to take a photo of the item and keep the memory instead. Another is to limit the number of sentimental items you keep to a certain amount, such as one box.

How can minimalism help with deciding what to keep?

Minimalism involves living with less and only keeping what is necessary or brings value to your life. A minimalist mindset can more easily identify what items are truly important to you and let go of the rest.

What are some organizing and decluttering hacks to make the process easier?

Some organizing and decluttering hacks include: breaking down the process into smaller tasks, using storage solutions like baskets and bins, and setting a timer to stay focused. It can also be helpful to have a designated donation or trash bag to make getting rid of items easier.

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