Conquer junk forever! Storing your things in closets or boxes only organizes your clutter; these nine questions will help you completely remove them from your home. Use this list when you sort through your stuff, leaving only what brings you joy or improves your quality of life. You’ll have more space, and yet feel that you have more—because finally, your home and your office reflects who you are, what you love, and what you need to achieve your goals.
1. Does it work?
Why are you holding on to things that are broken? They obviously serve no use for you, and according to feng shui experts, they may even attract bad luck because they symbolize obstacles and negativity. Or, if you don’t believe in feng shui, consider this—wouldn’t you rather have something that works?
Put everything that’s broken into box. This includes appliances and gadgets, clothes that don’t fit, toys with missing parts, rusty pots and pans, etc. Then comb through it, removing things that 1) can’t be fixed, 2) cost more to fix than replace, or 3) are inconvenient to fix. And remember this rule of thumb: if you haven’t fixed it in more than a year, than chances are you never will.
2. Is it really or just potentially useful?
You probably have loads of things that could be useful, but you never actually used. This includes fancy kitchen gadgets, extra glass jars, and 99% of the things you bought off the home shopping network. How do you know when it’s time to let go? Ask yourself, ‘If this gets lost, would I buy one exactly like it?’ Chances are you won’t, because you know you don’t actually need it. So if you don’t need it, why do you keep it? And if you don’t need it now, what makes you think you’d need it in the future?
3. Why am I saving it?
Strangely, we never use what we really like: favorite stationary, expensive soap or perfume. But keeping it in a drawer is just as wasteful as throwing it out, or even tossing the money we spent on it into the furnace. Use it or lose it, because either way you deserve the best, or deserve the space.
4. Is it outdated?
Unless you’re a museum curator, it’s best to replace frequently-used or very essential items with models that can serve you better. One classic example: old appliances. Your old refrigerator or airconditioner may be so broken down that it’s consuming more electricity than the newer, energy-efficient ones. Upgrade it; if you really use it, then the purchase pays for itself. (Once you buy a new appliance, read this article on how to make appliances last longer.)
5. Is it accessible?
An item may be ‘neatly’ put away in an inaccessible area, so you never actually get around to using it. Store items where you can find them and use them when you need them. One professional organizer’s secret: identify ‘prime real estate’ in your home. These are cabinets or shelves that are easy to reach because they’re at eye level or located near your work area. Keep your most frequently used items here. For example, use the drawer nearest the oven for holding all your cooking utensils. Or, put your most important work references in the shelf nearest the computer.
6. What memories do these mementos represent?
We hold on to many things for ‘sentimental value’ and the memories they trigger, but think: do these memories matter? Hold the object and see if you get a real emotional response from the experience you associate with them. For example, your child’s first shoes are definitely a keeper if they bring images of her first steps, or her pink toes. But do you really need to hold on to every Halloween costume she’s every worn?
7. Do I enjoy using it?
Some things are practical, useful, and work just fine—but we hate them anyway. Some examples: the ugly plates that were a wedding present from your mother in law, or the sofa. Change it. You deserve it. Life’s too short to waste on things that make you unhappy.
Photo from happinessstrategies.com