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10 Questions to Ask Yourself when you are Trying to Get Rid of Things

Updated on October 1, 2010

Many of us have decided that we want to live with fewer things. We want to get rid of the clothes that we don’t wear to make room in our closets for the clothes that make us feel our best. We want to pare down our furnishings to reduce clutter and dust collection in the house. We want to keep what we need and stop storing what we don’t. But actually going through all of our stuff and purging it is so difficult that most of us never actually get around to doing it.

It’s not easy to get rid of your things, even if you know that you want less stuff around you. We have emotional attachments to our stuff. We think we might want it someday. We aren’t sure if items should be stored or donated. Asking yourself the following ten questions can help you make smarter decisions as you go through your stuff.

1.     Do I love this? Go with your gut instinct first. You might feel obligated to keep that old china cabinet that grandma passed down through the generations. However, if you take one look at it, ask yourself if you love it and hear a resounding “no” inside of your head then it’s better off finding another home for it where it can be loved. Having only things around you that you love instead of just a bunch of stuff that’s meaningless or even steeped in negative feelings is a very freeing situation.

2.     Would I save this in an emergency? If you can’t decide whether or not you love something then put it to this simple test. Ask yourself if your house were facing impending fires or a forthcoming flood or a swirling hurricane, would you want to save this item. If you’d leave it behind (not out of convenience, assume that you could easily take what you wanted) then you probably don’t love it and it can be purged.

3.     If I moved to a new home, would I take this with me? Many people find it a lot easier to get rid of their stuff when they are starting fresh in a new home. You don’t have to actually move to make this happen, though. Simply stop and ask yourself honestly whether certain items would make it with you in the move. If not then there’s really no reason to keep it around now is there?

4.     Would I pay someone to move this across the country for me? You might think that you would take certain items with you if you were to move but put those items to a second test by asking this question as well. If you wouldn’t bother to pay someone to move the item to a home a thousand miles away then you don’t love the item enough to keep it in your current home. Get rid of it.

5.     Does this make my life easier? Think about whether the items that you have in your life make your life easier in any way. Even if you’re not in love with an item, you might find that you want to keep it simply for the fact that it’s going to simplify certain things in your life.

6.     Does this make my life more difficult? In contrast, there are some things that you love but they make life a lot more difficult for you so it may not be worth it to keep those things. For example, a collection of crystals and figurines may be lovable but if you have to constantly dust it and worry about it breaking then you might discover that the difficulty it adds to your life is worth letting go of.

7.     Does this make me or my home look stunning? We should keep those things that make us feel best about ourselves. If you have a dress that you don’t wear that often but it truly makes you feel great about the way that you look then go ahead and keep it. If you have a dress that’s been hanging around but it makes you look a little chubby then by all means, it’s time to ditch it. The same is true of things that make your home look great … or not so great.

8.     Does this item match where I’m at in life now? There are so many things that we keep around our homes because we remember when they really resonated with who we were. The lava lamp that we couldn’t live without in college, the stack of children’s books that we treasured when we received them for Christmas back in kindergarten … but if these things aren’t relevant to your life anymore, it’s not necessary to keep them. Keep one or two items, take pictures of items, do something to pare down the stuff and surround yourself with things that really matter to you today.

9.     How does this item make me feel? Be honest with yourself about the feelings that different things evoke in you. Do you feel joy when you hold your favorite chipped tea cup? Do you feel pressure when you look at the crock pot that you’ve never used. Your feelings about your stuff are great clues to what’s going on inside of you and they’re also good indicators about what to keep and what to ditch.

10. What would happen if I got rid of this? Is the item replaceable if you change your mind about it? If you did get rid of it, would you feel a pang of missing it that would probably pass or would you be filled with regret? Would someone be upset with you if you got rid of the item? Looking at these issues helps you to figure out why you’re hanging on to stuff and can make it a lot easier to make smart choices when purging your home.


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  • profile image

    Jon 5 years ago

    Great Article! I plan to apply these questions to many things that are cluttering my garage

  • profile image

    Rebecca 7 years ago

    Very good questions but you are missing the one that would (if answered) actually get me to get rid of those things - how do I remove this item without feeling guilty?!! I find it so hard to get rid of something when it can't be donated but is still in working order and / or was given to me by someone else. Throwing those things away - I really find it hard. I know it's silly, but I always imagine so much work was taken to create that item and the fact that someone was thinking of me when they bought it. It becomes a big problem!

  • profile image

    Kolls 7 years ago

    Paying for storing and moving stuff across the country are the worst :D

  • profile image

    ericsomething 7 years ago

    Kathryn, you've raised some excellent questions. There's a sense of security in things, but a sense of liberation, of danger, in casting away things. I think the older I've become, the less attachment I've felt to stuff; a breakthrough for me because I've always been a pack rat. My yardstick is, if I haven't used something in a year, I can safely get rid of it. If I haven't even thought of it in a year, then I probably already should have gotten rid of it.

  • William F. Torpey profile image

    William F Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

    I've just moved into a smaller place and had to face this kind of problem, Kathryn Vercillo. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out what to do about my clothes closet. Thanks to this hub, I will take a new approach toward solving this Dilemma.

  • M.S.P. profile image

    M.S.P. 8 years ago from Montana

    Why is it that we are so attached to "stuff"? Great article, helped motivate me to tackle my closet.

  • KillMeCutie profile image

    KillMeCutie 8 years ago

    I like this, this is a great article, I admit I have been putting off cleaning up my closet and throwing out the things I don't use, need, pay attention to, or haven't seen in years.

  • serialkisser4u profile image

    serialkisser4u 8 years ago

    Dear Kathryn, this is one more thought provoking hub from you...I wonder hw do u get this kind of ideas? Interesting 2 read and pretty simple language...waiting for some more interesting topics from u...wishh u good luck dear.

  • Springboard profile image

    Springboard 8 years ago from Wisconsin

    The sad reality is that the wife and I have quite a few of those plastic totes in the basement that need these very questions posed to them. It so much easier to just throw them in a tote and stack 'em up to the ceiling. But we really need to do it once and for all.

    We're actually planning a big, family BBQ/garage sale late

    Might have to print these questions out for very near future reference. :)

  • fishtiger58 profile image

    fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

    Questions I would never have thought to ask myself. I have to much stuff and need to get rid of it. A yard sale or maybe eBay. Thanks for the great read.

  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 8 years ago from UK

    Perhaps one should judge requirements as if one were to live on board a small boat? :-)

  • Katrina Ariel profile image

    Katrina Ariel 8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

    Excellent questions. I think for some things the decision is easier than others, so for the items where you're just on the fence, having those extra questions could help. Great hub.

  • shanekruger profile image

    shanekruger 8 years ago

    Nice though to address this question :)

    I would go only for question 1, 2, 9 and 10. This should answer if I keep it or not.

    Nice anyway.

    Would you like to join me on hubs too. I am comparatively new but learning to grow more on hubs.

    Thank you

  • sheila b. profile image

    sheila b. 8 years ago

    Very good questions.