How do I decide what to declutter?

sentimental items

Some people find decluttering really easy and once they’ve finished one room or area of their home, can’t wait to move on to the next. Others find it so tough they never really get started in the first place. Whatever your starting point, decluttering always means you’re keeping some things and letting other stuff go. But, how do you decide which is which? To simplify the decluttering process, check out my post on how do I decide what to declutter?


Some people do find it really easy to sift through their possessions and work out what they want to keep and what they don’t.

It may be natural to some of us. We may just prefer a more minimal (without necessarily being minimalist) aesthetic in our homes. Some people don’t really attach much importance to material possessions, preferring experiences over physical items.

Or you may just be naturally organised, methodical, neat and the thought of clutter and stuff everywhere makes you dizzy.

You may have moved home several times, so you’ve gone through the contents of your home regularly and maybe decluttered as part of your house move.

Minimalist home - deciding what to declutter


Others find the thought and process of getting rid of our much-loved possessions too traumatic to even contemplate.

They may place huge sentimental value on material things including gifts, keepsakes and souvenirs. If you struggle in this area, check out my post on how to declutter sentimental items.

It may be that you haven’t moved home for many years so never really thought about how much stuff you actually own.

Or sometimes, the clutter builds up without us noticing until the day comes when we think we should have a sort-out. And then it’s only to find there’s so much clutter that you don’t know where to start and so you don’t get started at all.

For some people, too much clutter is a symptom of a more deep-seated emotional vulnerability. Maybe you ‘hide’ behind your clutter or you feel ‘safe’ with a barrier of familiar stuff around you.

Maybe you prefer to live in the past with keep-sakes and sentimental items all around, rather than making your home suit you and your family right here, right now.


Wherever you are on the decluttering spectrum, either starting out for the first time, or a seasoned declutterer just doing a maintenance declutter session, I think you should keep it simple.


Decluttering is meant to be a liberating way of freeing up your time and space.  You’ll defeat the whole objective if you overthink it or make it too complicated.


If you overthink what you’re doing or spend too much time planning and procrastinating, then you’re likely to get side-tracked or put off before you’ve even started. Don’t make decluttering into something more time-consuming or difficult than it needs to be. After all, decluttering is meant to make your life simpler and easier! It’s not meant to add to your long list of things to do or be yet another challenge for your day.

Keep it simple - deciding what to declutter

The simple answer is that you ask yourself 3 easy questions each time you come to an item you’re thinking of decluttering.

1. Do I love it?

Maybe it’s something you love to look at, or it reminds you of something that you love to do, a place you love to be or someone you used to love. Or it could be something that you love to use or to wear.

If you LOVE it, then keep it. Liking something isn’t good enough. You have to LOVE it.

2. Do I need it?

Is the item useful? Does it have a purpose and do you use it often enough to justify keeping it? If it’s a high value item that you use, but not very often, and would be expensive to replace, then keep it. If the item’s not useful, doesn’t serve a purpose or you can easily buy, borrow or rent a replacement, then let it go.

Think carefully about how many items you keep back ‘just in case’ and work out whether you have enough of those ‘just in case’ moments to justify having to look after the item for the rest of the time.

Only keep things that you REALLY need and do actually use.

3. Do I want it?

This last question is about whether the item adds value to your life. It might not be something that you love, or you need, but it’s something that you really, really WANT. Ask yourself whether your life is enhanced by having this item in your life and would your life be any less if this item wasn’t in it?

Minimalism is not about stealing the joy from your life and it’s not about sentencing you to a life of scarcity and deprivation.

Instead, Minimalism is about enabling you to have more of the things that are most important to you, without the fog or confusion of any extra clutter.

If you really WANT it, then keep it. Just be mindful that you can’t want everything!

If you find yourself with this dilemma then sort out your WANT pile and prioritise it. Keep the three most important things and let the rest go. You don’t WANT them badly enough or you’d have put them at the top of the list!

How Do I Decide What To Declutter

Remember that whatever item you keep, it requires you to look after it, clean it, store it. Do you LOVE it, NEED it or WANT it enough to justify the effort and expense it takes to keep it?

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