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For me, decluttering and downsizing makes space for something new. This “something new” can be energetic, white space, or a physical new thing. Also the less you have, the less you have to clean up. Which makes my heart sing since I love having a clean home and I also love having time to do the things I want to do.
I think we all pretty much know the benefits of downsizing and having less stuff (check out my post on why you love to own less stuff), but it’s following through to the end that seems to be very challenging for most people. Especially, with our time cut so short with work all day, then commitments after work, then all-the-things on the weekends. I am not going to lie, sitting down and decluttering can be a daunting task when you barely have time for yourself.
This is why I believe you need to create a “why” first, some kind of goal, or basecamp if you will, to keep you going when the motivation
declines and the discipline needs to kick in. Because this will happen! You will get tired of sorting through your junk, you will get sick of looking and scanning paperwork, you will find bags of thrift store donations in your car but you don’t want to drive it to your thrift store. So if you are tired, my friend, then rest but don’t give up. Finish up what you are working on (like taking those last few bags to the thrift store), and rest. Give yourself permission to rest, to take a break from what you are doing, then go back to your why a
nd remember the reason you started this journey. This why your why needs to be so juicy so tempting – like Eve to an apple – that every time you say it you get excited about what it’s like to accomplish that goal.
So with that in mind, here are a few questions I ask myself as I declutter any part of my life.
Do I really use this?
Be honest with yourself here. I think this question is so easy to just pass up and say “yes I use this!” yet it hasn’t been used in years. I find I ask myself this question several times to finally get honest with myself. Your first reaction may be you do use it, then you ask “when was the last time I used this?” and you realize it has been a full year. I am one who usually says listen to your gut but your old habits might jump in and convince you otherwise. So asking yourself these questions multiple times and listening to yourself, is the best route.
Am I hanging on to this for the “just in case”?
We’re all scared of loosing what we have – I get it. I know I have been in situations like Houston floods and tornados in the RV where I had to walk away from my home with the possibility of returning to nothing. I was one of the fortunate ones who did return back to their home, but a lot of people didn’t.
The thing is, the “just in case” is fear based. Fear of not having in the future what you have now. For me, this is where my savings and faith come into play. I have worked hard to get out of debt and create a savings for a rainy day. My savings is for a lay off, a medical expense, tragedy or just putting food on the table when work is slow, it’s not for traveling or if I need a new TV. It takes time to build a savings but the peace of mind with knowing you can cover your own emergencies is so liberating.
The other part of this is more of my woo-woo side, but I truly believe God/Universe/Divine Energy is constantly looking after me. Even through my most desperate times, I was blessed to have food in my belly (even if it was ramen noodles) and a place to sleep. I am always taken care of, and this is a mantra I say out loud every time a fear based thought pops up. I believe God wants to have our backs, and if you are truly open to it amazing things happen. I have no science or anything to back this up but ever since I have fully trusted 100% in God I have never lacked a single thing in my life.
Have I used this item in the last 6 months to a year?
I love this one since it’s so simple. Be honest with yourself about how long it has been since you have used a particular item. With the little bit of clothing I hang in the RV, I turn the hooks to face the opposite direction (open part of hook faces you) and after I use the article of clothing I turn the hook around (open part of hook faces away from you). Then when I am ready to shed or downsize, I can clearly see what cloths I have worn and what I haven’t. It makes the decision of thrifting the clothing much, much easier!
Do I have a similar item that serves the same purpose?
I call this double trouble. We buy and collect things that have the same purpose. In our house, we starting whittling down to items that have multi-use only. For example, I have hand towels I used for drying hands as well as an oven mitt. I don’t own an oven mitt anymore since the towels do the same job. Or I have one mason jar that is used for food storage or a flower vase. In my mind, there is no reason to have an extra flower vase when a glass jar can have the exact same purpose.
Am I holding on to something broke to fix in the future?
This one is a tough one for me, because my frugal ass doesn’t like buying new things. However, there comes a point when I have to determine if the time (AND usually money) to fix something is worth it. For example, I may have some pants with a hole in them that will take me less then 20 minutes to mend. I already have the sewing supplies so it won’t cost me extra or a lot of time to fix this. Sometimes your time costs more than money, so you’ll need to determine which one is a priority for you. When I was getting out of debt, I sacrificed a lot more time to save money. You might be in a situation where you lack all kinds of time, so you sacrifice money. The great thing about downsizing or minimalism – it can ebb and flow with your lifestyle so don’t be so hard on yourself.
One last comment – Be honest with yourself if you are actually going to fix it. If the item has been sitting in your garage for 6 months waiting patiently to be fixed, you probably won’t fix it, my friend. So get rid of it so it’s our of your sight, and especially out of your mind.
Am I holding on to this for the fear of wasting money?
As you can probably tell I don’t like to waste my money, other people’s money, food, time, or things. I believe the solution to this problem starts at when we are buying or gathering. Becoming more intentional and honest with your buying from the start will prevent items in your home to eventually be wasted. This also goes for free things people give you, learn to say no! Otherwise it’s just going to sit in your closet or garage and then you have to declutter it again.
So those are my questions I ask myself as I declutter. Again, I want to stress this isn’t a race. When choosing where to start, start with a small space like one section of a kitchen counter or one drawer (even though these can be so overwhelming – junk drawer anyone?). Then as you become more comfortable with letting things go, try bigger areas. This is an emotional process so be gentle on yourself. There is nothing wrong with starting small, we all had to start somewhere.
Create a delicious why, find a small space to work on, and get to work! Tell me in the comments what questions you ask yourself when you declutter.
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