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How to Make Decluttering Easier with One Simple Question

How to Make Decluttering Easier with One Simple Question

Today I’m sharing one simple idea/question to make decluttering easier and simplify the whole process of creating a clutter-free home!

Decluttering your home can be a lot of work. When you’re facing years worth of clutter, sometimes it can even feel overwhelming.

Or maybe you’re making good progress decluttering, but are finding it difficult to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

Or maybe you are ready to go deeper and declutter more than just the obvious, easy stuff, but the harder stuff too.

What takes up your space, takes up your time

The idea that can make decluttering easier is this:

What takes up your space, takes up your time.

Everything you own takes up not only some of your space but also some of your time, energy and attention.

Yes, that’s right. Every. Single. Thing. in your home.

Just think about it for a minute. Everything you own requires that you earned the money to buy it (or even go into debt because of it). Then you had to go out and buy it. Once you get it home, you have to put it away, clean it, clean around it, pick it up, maintain it, organize it, repair it, look for it, etc.

When you think about each item individually, it might not seem like much. But when you add up all the time ALL the items you own take up collectively, it really adds up!

How many items are in your house?

Let’s take the throw pillows on your couch for example. How many times a day do you pick up, straighten, fluff, rearrange, etc. your throw pillows? Even something as simple as a throw pillow requires some of your time and energy. Even if it’s only a few seconds or minutes a day.

But now multiply that by the number of items in your home.

Studies show the average American home contains as many as 300,000 items. That’s a lot of time, energy and attention to simply keep up with and manage all the things you own!

Make decluttering easier with one simple question

I want to share one simple question that can make decluttering easier and help you declutter more effectively.

The question is:

Is each item in your home worth the space, time and energy it takes up in your life?

The key to decluttering and simplifying your home is deciding which items are worth the time, space, energy and attention they take up. And then, getting rid of any items that aren’t worth it.

Ask yourself: given each item you own takes up some of your time, space, energy and attention, is each one of them worth it?

Reframe decluttering decisions and make decluttering easier

This is my favourite way to reframe decluttering decisions. Recognizing that everything you own takes up some of your time, space and energy, allows you to decide if each item is worth the time, space and energy it takes up.

It shifts my perspective from trying to convince myself why I should keep an item. And instead, makes each item earn its place in my home. If it’s not worth the time, space and energy it takes up, it’s not worth keeping.

Living an intentional life

“How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives”

~ Annie Dillard

This quote has always hit home for me and inspired me to continue simplifying. The way we spend our days, adds up to the way we live our lives.

Our lives are not made up of the things we do once in a while or every so often. Instead, the sum of our lives comes from the habits and routines we repeat every day, day after day.

How do you want to spend your days, and by extension, your life? Are your daily habits and routines adding up to the life you want to live?

I don’t think many of us would say we want to spend our days/lives picking up “stuff” or managing the things we own.

How much of your day do you spend managing “stuff”? This includes everything outside of actually using and enjoying the items you own. For example, picking up, putting away, organizing, fixing, looking for, cleaning, etc.

Less stuff = more life

By choosing to simplify and declutter your home, you will spend less time taking care of things you don’t really use, love or even need. And as a result, have more time to spend your days/life on the things that matter most to you.

Imagine what you could do with all the time and energy you use managing all the “stuff” in your home. Maybe you could spend more time with the people you love. Or maybe you’d have the time and energy for a hobby you love but can never find the time to do.

It really is a simple as this: the less you own, the more time, space and energy you’ll have for things that matter most to you.

The goal is less, not nothing

Of course, no matter how much you simplify and embrace minimalism, we will all still have some “stuff” to take care of in our lives. Not only the necessities for life like food, clothing and shelter. But also, the things that we use to make life easier and enjoyable. As well as the things we love and enjoy having in our homes.

Simplifying and minimalism are not about owning nothing. Instead, the key is only owning the things that add value to your life by either being useful or bringing you joy. Then getting rid of the clutter, the excess and the distractions filling your home.

What adds enough value to your life?

Here’s the most important part: The things you choose to own must add enough value to your life that you feel ok giving them the time, space, energy and attention they require.

An item adds value to your life when you either use it regularly or you love it and it makes you happy.

This will look different for all of us because we all value and use different things. But the key is to start assessing if the things in your home are actually pulling their weight and earning their keep.

Are they adding enough value to your life to make the time, space, energy and attention they take up worth it?

A key part of that question is “enough”. Sometimes while you’re decluttering, it’s easy to get hung up on items you sometimes use, or kind of like, and are having a hard time deciding what to do with.

But when you think of each item in terms of taking up your time, space, energy and attention, it can make decluttering easier. Ask yourself if the item is adding enough value to justify keeping it.

Decide what adds value to your life

Going back to the example of the throw pillows. Maybe you love your throw pillows. They make you happy and you love snuggling into them when you sit on your couch. In this case, they are likely adding enough value to justify the time and space they take up.

But if the thought of having to pick up and arrange the pillows one more time makes you want to scream, maybe they’re not worth the time and space they take up.

Finding your own version of enough

We will all have different ideas about what the right amount of stuff to keep is. Which is completely ok!

Remember, simplifying and minimalism aren’t about following someone else’s rules or standards. Instead, it’s about figuring out how much stuff feels right to you. Then working to remove the excess and the clutter from your home and your life.

Here’s an example from my own life (sticking with the throw pillow theme)

If it was up to me, I’d have no throw pillows on the couch.

I rarely lay on the couch or use a throw pillow when I’m sitting on the couch. Although I like how they soften and warm the space, to me, they don’t add enough value to my life to justify how many times a day I pick them up.

(Why is it that they never seem to stay on the couch!?)

My husband on the other hand feels very differently.

He loves relaxing on the couch at the end of the day and uses the pillows on a daily basis. He has very strong opinions about what kind of throw pillows we have – not for looks, but for comfort. And he would be horrified if we didn’t have any throw pillows on the couch.

Clearly, our ideas of how many throw pillows are enough are different.

In the end, we compromise and have a minimal number of pillows. Two per couch to be exact. It’s enough for him to enjoy when relaxing on the couch. But not so many that I can’t stand it.

That’s what we’ve settled on for our version of enough for one type of item.

Assess the value added to make decluttering easier

When decluttering, the key is to first look at each item you’re choosing to keep and ask yourself if it adds value to your life. Do you use it and/or love it?

Then, decide if it adds enough value to justify the time, space and energy it takes up in your home and your life.

As you are decluttering and simplifying your home, ask this question for each item you’re keeping. Make sure everything you decide to keep passes this test.

This question will make decluttering easier by helping you ensure anything you decide to keep is adding value to your life. Not just taking up your time, space and energy!

Have you ever thought of the things you own as taking up your time, energy and space? Does asking yourself this question shift your perspective and make decluttering easier?

How to Make Decluttering Easier With One Simple Question
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

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Cheryl Maras

Monday 3rd of January 2022

Hi, What I really need is an article on what papers to keep? Other items I have no problem clearing out of my life...but paperwork we always need. Is there any articles that you have on that?

Simple Lionheart Life

Thursday 6th of January 2022

Hi Cheryl. Paperwork can be tricky for sure. My best suggestion would be to Google how long you need to keep paperwork in your area. It sometimes varies by country or region, so I'd hate to give you advice that doesn't apply to your area. Sorry I can't offer more specific help, but I hope that will give you somewhere to start!

Carole Stanitzki

Friday 18th of June 2021

Many thanks and much appreciation for your kind advice.!!!

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 18th of June 2021

You're very welcome! I'm glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading :)


Sunday 31st of March 2019

Hi, Melissa!

Thank you for the one simple question to make decluttering easier. I internalize and apply it every time I monitor my areas here. It's truly worth it. Rewarding. Empowering.

More blessings coming, Succor : )

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 1st of April 2019

I'm so happy to hear this question has helped you on your decluttering journey! That's so great to hear. Thank you for sharing and for reading :)


Friday 18th of January 2019

I love this! I found myself just nodding along???

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 20th of January 2019

Thanks, Olivia! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading :)


Thursday 17th of January 2019

Hi Melissa,

I loved your post! I had three old canning jars with lids that I liked but I was always moving them from one location to another for display purposes. After pondering your simple question, I decided they took up too much space, care, and time. So here's what I did. I am using two of them as vases for fresh flowers, and the two vases I had I gave to Goodwill. They now serve a purpose and I have the nostalgia of having something antique. Thanks Melissa for all your ideas! PATTI

Simple Lionheart Life

Thursday 17th of January 2019

That's so wonderful Patti! Good for you for being so intentional about the things you keep. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I love how you used this question to help you decide what would add the most value to your home and life!

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