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How do I decide which items to keep and which ones to discard when decluttering clutter your home?

How to Decide What to Keep and What to Discard When Decluttering

Decluttering your living space can be a daunting task, but it is incredibly rewarding. A clean and organized environment can reduce stress, improve productivity, and create a sense of tranquility. However, the process of deciding which items to keep and which ones to discard can be a challenging endeavor. In this article, we will explore strategies to help you make those tough decisions and create a clutter-free living space.

Decluttering is a process that, when done right, can lead to a more organized and stress-free life. The key to success is making well-informed decisions about which items to keep and which ones to discard. Whether you adopt the KonMari method, the 90/90 rule, or other strategies, it’s essential to focus on your goals, functionality, and the emotional value of your possessions. By doing so, you’ll create a living space that truly sparks joy and enhances your overall well-being. Remember that decluttering is a journey, not a destination, and it’s perfectly okay to take your time to achieve your desired results.

Before you dive into the decluttering process, it’s important to set clear goals. Define what you want to achieve with the decluttering project. Is it to create more space, reduce stress, or make your home more aesthetically pleasing? Understanding your goals will help you make more informed decisions about what to keep and what to discard.

Marie Kondo’s KonMari method has gained worldwide recognition for its effectiveness in decluttering. According to Kondo, you should ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” when deciding whether to keep an item. If an item doesn’t bring you joy, it’s time to let it go. This method emphasizes the emotional connection you have with your possessions.

The 90/90 rule is a practical approach to decluttering. Ask yourself, “Have I used this item in the last 90 days, and will I use it in the next 90 days?” If the answer is no, consider discarding the item. This rule helps you focus on the practicality and utility of your possessions.

Another effective strategy is to sort items by category, not by room. For example, gather all your clothing, books, or kitchen items in one place. This allows you to see the full extent of your possessions and makes it easier to compare similar items to determine which ones to keep.

Sentimental items often present the most significant challenge during decluttering. It’s important to recognize that you can’t keep everything. Instead, consider taking photographs of items with sentimental value and creating a digital memory album. This allows you to keep the memory while reducing physical clutter.

Decluttering doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. You can declutter gradually, focusing on one area at a time. This approach is less overwhelming and allows you to give proper thought to each item.

The one-year rule is a straightforward guideline: If you haven’t used or worn an item in the past year, it’s a candidate for removal. This rule is especially useful for clothing, gadgets, and other non-essential items.

When deciding whether to keep or discard something, consider its functionality. Is it broken, outdated, or redundant? If the item serves no functional purpose, it’s a strong candidate for disposal.

The sunk cost fallacy is the idea that you should keep something because you’ve invested time or money into it. However, this type of thinking can lead to clutter. Instead, evaluate an item’s current value and future usefulness independently of what you’ve invested in it in the past.

Sometimes, the decision isn’t about discarding but about finding better storage solutions. Invest in storage containers, shelves, and organizational tools to keep your essentials neat and accessible. This can help create a more organized living space.

If you’re struggling to make decisions, ask for input from a friend or family member. A fresh perspective can help you see your possessions in a new light and make the process less emotionally challenging.

Certainly, let’s dive deeper into each of the strategies and provide more tips to help you make informed decisions when decluttering.

  • Donating items to charity is a wonderful way to give new life to things you no longer need. It also promotes a sense of goodwill and contributes to a greater cause. Be sure to research local charities and their donation guidelines.
  • Recycling is an eco-friendly way to dispose of items like electronics, paper, cardboard, and plastics. It’s important to recycle responsibly to reduce your environmental footprint.
  1. Organizing and Storage Solutions:
    • Sometimes, decluttering is more about organization. Invest in storage containers, shelves, and organizational tools to make better use of your space. Clear and labeled containers can help you easily find and access items when needed.
  2. Seek Input from Others:
    • If you’re having a tough time letting go of certain items, invite a friend or family member to assist you. They can provide an objective perspective and help you make rational decisions.


Decluttering is a transformative process that can lead to a more harmonious and organized living environment. Remember that the key to successful decluttering is making conscious and informed decisions about what to keep and what to discard. Whether you follow a specific method or a combination of strategies, the ultimate goal is to create a living space that brings you joy, minimizes stress, and enhances your overall quality of life. The journey of decluttering is a personal one, so go at your own pace and embrace the positive changes it brings to your home and well-being.

Certainly, let’s address some frequently asked questions related to decluttering and the process of deciding which items to keep and which ones to discard.

A1: Overcoming emotional attachment to sentimental items can be challenging. To make this process easier, consider the following strategies:

  • Take a photo: Take a picture of the sentimental item to preserve the memory without the physical clutter.
  • Create a memory box: Designate a small, specific space for sentimental items so that you limit the amount you keep.
  • Share stories: Share stories and memories associated with the items with family and friends. This can help you feel like you’re passing on the sentiment.

A2: Items in good condition that you no longer need can be responsibly disposed of or given a new purpose:

  • Donate: Consider donating to local charities, thrift shops, or organizations that can benefit from your unused items.
  • Sell: If the item has value, you can sell it online through platforms like eBay or local marketplaces.
  • Gift: Offer the item to friends or family who might have a use for it.
  • Upcycle: Get creative and repurpose items into something new or different to give them a fresh purpose.

A3: Deciding what paperwork and documents to keep depends on their importance and legal requirements:

  • Essential documents: Keep items like birth certificates, passports, wills, and insurance policies in a safe place.
  • Financial records: Maintain tax returns, bank statements, and receipts for a specific period (usually 3-7 years) as required by tax authorities.
  • Shred unnecessary items: Dispose of outdated bills, junk mail, and documents that contain sensitive information by shredding them to protect your privacy.

A4: Feeling overwhelmed during decluttering is common, but there are ways to manage it:

  • Break it down: Divide your decluttering project into smaller, manageable tasks, focusing on one area at a time.
  • Set a timer: Allocate a specific amount of time each day to declutter. Even 15-30 minutes can make a difference.
  • Seek help: Involve a friend or family member to provide support and motivation.

A5: Maintaining a clutter-free environment is an ongoing process:

  • Regularly reassess: Make decluttering a routine and reevaluate your possessions periodically to prevent new clutter from accumulating.
  • One-in, one-out rule: When you acquire a new item, consider letting go of an old one to maintain a balance.
  • Organize and label: Use storage solutions and labeling to keep your items organized and easily accessible.

Remember that decluttering is a personal journey, and it’s essential to tailor your approach to your own goals and circumstances. The ultimate aim is to create a living space that aligns with your vision and enhances your overall well-being.

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