I was going to write about new and creative ways to organize, but while I was looking for inspiration, I saw this phrase: “Why organize when you can declutter?”

When I was a senior in high school, my mom read a book about decluttering. The following Family Home Evening on decluttering was traumatic for all of us, a family of pack rats, but it was especially traumatic for me, as I knew that going off to college soon meant I would have to do some serious decluttering.

I remember cradling each of my books (more than 120 in total) in my hands, bawling, and asking myself, “Does this spark joy in me?” and if it didn’t, I hesitantly placed it in a pile destined to end up at the local thrift store.

Now, I’m terrible at decluttering (I only threw about 6 books out), but I can see how necessary it is when space is limited, and things are just getting too hard to organize.

I think that one of the problems I encountered when attempting to declutter so long ago, was that I only had the one question to base my decluttering on, “Does this spark joy in me?”. Joy is defined as a feeling, source, or cause of great happiness, not just something that you’re used to having. This makes things hard, because some things you just have to keep, even if they don’t bring you joy. Conversely, some things that you may think bring you joy just have to go.

William Morris said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” So how can you decide what is clutter and what is not, with so many vague parameters? I have compiled a list of questions you can use to evaluate.

  1. Do you know what it is? (I’ll give you a hint on this one: if the answer is no, just toss it.)
  2. Does it have sentimental value?
  3. Does it work?
  4. If not, can you fix or repurpose it?
  5. If you can, do you have a realistic plan to do so?
  6. Does it take up a lot of space?
  7. Have you used it in the last year?
  8. If you were shopping right now, would you buy this?
  9. Do you have a similar item that serves the same purpose?
  10. Does it spark joy in you? (If your item answered yes for 6 and 9 and no for all the others, be very strict about the definition of joy in this question.)

I encourage you to use these questions to aid you in your decluttering. And maybe if you do, decluttering won’t be as much a traumatic experience (like it was for me), and more of a joyful experience.

BY CARI AVERETT

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash