Decluttering? How to Decide What To Keep


Normally we’re all about decluttering. Don’t get us wrong, that’s still the goal with any minimalist lifestyle however you wish to practice it. However, today we’re all about holding on! Why? It’s simple. When one gets all caught up in the fervor of minimalism, and you’re diving into your new approach to life; well, it can be easy to get carried away.

So, while we’re all about getting rid of waste and cutting down on excess, let’s face it: some things we need to hold on to. To that end, we’re going to discuss a few things you shouldn’t be so quick to get rid of. Or rather, how to approach those “I dunno” items and make the final call.

Consider Usage

The first line of questioning this suspected item should face is a question of usage. Realistically, how often do you use it? Whether it’s a piece of furniture, appliances, or an article of clothing; what’s the real story here?

Minimal Image

As a general guideline, use the 1-year rule. That is, if you haven’t used it in a year, you can probably get rid of it. This includes furniture that hasn’t been sat on or utilized, outfits that have been in the bottom of a closet forever, etc. For some items, you can lessen that amount of time, depending on what it is. For example…

Just In Case Items

We all have them. You know what they are. Why exactly do you have at espresso maker even though you never drink espresso? Well, just in case you have someone over who does, of course! 

Throw away unused appliances

These situations can be difficult to navigate. After all, they only exist “just in case” so how are you to know if you truly need to hang on to them? As a general rule, start off with the 1-year rule. Haven’t used it in a year? Okay, it’s definitely a “just in case” item at the very least. 

Outside of that, consider the likelihood you’ll need it. Fire extinguisher? Yeah, you want to hang on to those! True emergency items are important! However, that breadmaker you received as a gift four years ago? While we’d hate to think of you in one of those common, everyday scenarios where you’d need a breadmaker and find yourself without one; you’re probably good to let it go.

Try To Conquer Fear

Fear comes in many forms. When it comes to decluttering your home, we could be talking about fear of loss, fear of the unknown, etc. No, most people aren’t scared of doing this; but anxiety-riddled might be a better way of looking at it.

Conquer Fear

Fear of loss can be a powerful emotion. After all, you’ve had that desk for years. Whatever will happen if you throw it out? Well, nothing. It won’t be there anymore. And really that’s all there is to it. 

By all means, if you use that desk with regularity, or if it has sentimental value (legitimate sentimental value!) then keep it! By all means, keep it! We’re not throwing things out just for the sake of throwing things out!  If, however, the item in question is neither beautiful nor functional; sentimental or useful: it can probably go.

You may feel anxious about taking this step, but realize it’s an important one. And at the end of the day, it’s just “stuff” that won’t be there anymore. Case closed.

Try Not To Think About The Money

If you’re looking at something, be it an article of clothing, an appliance, or a piece of furniture, and all you can think about is “I spent x amount of money on this;” try not to do that. Where does this feeling come from? Well, it’s most often some version of “I spent $50 on this and if I throw it out, it’s wasted!”

minimalism on a budget

This feeling is common and completely normal and understandable. However, if you’re considering getting rid of this, here’s the truth: that money is wasted already! Whether it’s in the garbage, in the donation bin, or collecting dust in the garage; the end result is the money spent on it is NOT in your wallet.

Minimalists are careful with their money and how they spend it. But we weren’t always this way, of course. We’ve all been guilty of spending a little too much, buying on impulse, and having a little regret. It’s normal and it’s what makes us human.

Look at it this way: that item can now declutter your space. It can be donated which means it can serve a healthy, functional purpose for somebody else. What’s more, it won’t serve as a reminder of money, waste, or excess every time you walk by it or don’t use it. 

Relax and let it go! 

Consider Donating

If anxiety, guilt, or fear is looming, here’s something that might help calm those nerves: Donating! It’s much better for everyone if you don’t simply throw items in the trash. There are many charitable organizations out there that accept donations of everything from furniture to clothing and housewares. Donating your items is always preferable to throwing them out; whenever possible.

Donate to Charity

Giving away your items may be a little tough; however, it’ll be a little easier if you know that your items aren’t truly gone; they’re simply going someplace where they can be put to better use.

Decluttering can be intimidating. Remember, it’s not the amount you get rid of or even the amount of space you gain. There’s no metric for what a minimalist home “needs” to look like. As long as you’re moving towards your goal of decluttering your life and cutting down on waste and excess, you are on the right path!