The 2 key questions to ask while decluttering
In the poll I had in my sidebar last week (I’ve got a new one there, by the way), I was somewhat surprised to learn that most of you find organizing to be the hardest part of your home management. I wasn’t surprised because I think it’s easy, but because you said it was harder than money management, menu planning, cleaning, or juggling parenting in the mix of housekeeping. None of those tasks are easy.
Photo by Molly
“Stuffitis” can clog our clarity, productivity, and peace to the point of exhaustion. It makes organizing our homes so much harder. When we have so much stuff that those items are no longer useful or provide enjoyment because the mere having it causes added stress – it’s time to rethink its purpose in your home.
One of our unexpected benefits of moving to the other side of the world last year was forced downsizing. Because we were limited in how much stuff to bring, we literally questioned every single item we owned. It either went with us, it moved into a very small storage unit (for those items we wanted to keep but not risk a major overseas move – like family keepsakes), or it left our home and went to another (via garage sale or donation).
And when we inventoried our belongings, the two main questions we asked – sometimes unconsciously – were:
1. Is this item useful to us?, and
2. Is this item beautiful to us?
The answers could be quite subjective, but it pointed us to an overall theme in our life and in our home that I hope we now keep lifelong. It’s this simple quote that is now my homekeeping mantra:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris
Sounds extreme, and in a way, it is. But I like it because it validates the things you do have in your home, and it gives you the freedom to truly enjoy having them pass your threshold. Rather than making that collection of candles on top of your TV cabinet feel pointless, you can enjoy having them there because you’ve made a conscious decision that they were worth being there. They passed the test, in other words.
It helps us that our home isn’t too big. We live in a very urban high-rise condo, which provides about 1,300 square feet of living space. We have one closet, which is actually pretty unusual here, since closets are a rather American concept. Our bedrooms have wardrobes which serve as ample space for all our clothes.
Most families won’t have a major international move to force them to downsize. But I highly encourage you to quickly ask yourself an object’s purpose or beauty in your home the next time you declutter. If it merits neither, then maybe it shouldn’t even belong. Perhaps another family would find a better use for it.
And you might be surprised to learn how little you’ll miss the thing once it’s gone.
2nd photo by karly b
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