#1 Which ones do I want to keep?
When I started decluttering I would open the cupboard up and I would think like, oh, which items should I declutter?
Maybe I’ll declutter this one and declutter this one.
And then I would close the cupboard up and I would be so disappointed because it didn’t seem like I ever decluttered enough.
Everybody said, “just get rid of a bunch of stuff, and then your life will be freer and everything will be easier to organize!”
But I wasn’t seeing that myself.
When I changed my approach to opening up the cupboard, pulling everything out, and then looking at it right in front of me and asking, “Which one do I want to keep?”
The question was flipped and I ended up keeping only a handful and let go of all of the excess that was still sitting on the counter.
#2 Does this make my life easier?
So many gadgets in our kitchen are supposed to make our life easier, our cooking easier, our meal prep easier, our storing easier.
Years ago I loved Pampered Chef and I remember buying one of those onion choppers.
I thought “this is great! I don’t really like chopping onions and that’ll make it so much faster!”
The bad part was I didn’t own a dishwasher and I hated doing the dishes. So by the time I got around to doing the dishes, there was dried onion stuck on that onion chopper.
And it was not easy to clean.
So I would end up pushing it aside and leaving it and waiting for weeks before it actually got washed and put away. After all that, was it really making my life easier?
#3 Is this tool causing me more work in the end?
I always admired those beautiful kitchens with the pretty KitchenAid mixer sitting on the counter, but every time I left things on the counter they got dirty, they got dusty, and I had to wipe them off continually or move this heavy machine just so I could wipe underneath of it.
And the truth is, I didn’t use those appliances that sat on my counter that often.
I touched it more often to clean around it than I actually used it!
#4 What was I hoping to accomplish with this item when I brought it into my home?
And is it accomplishing that for you?
Did it meet your expectations?
#5 Is it adding enough value to my life that it is paying for the space it takes up?
When we were buying our house we looked at the price per square footage of the house, right?
All the stuff in our house is taking up that square footage… so it should justify the space that it takes up.
If we’re saving something to use later and it’s been sitting there for the last five years just waiting to be used, it’s not adding value to our life.
It’s not paying for itself.
It’s taking up that space rent-free!
#6 Is this something that my past self used, needed, and/or wanted, and am I the same person?
12 years ago our family was on a specialty healing diet and I had all kinds of equipment to help me cook that way.
But after going through that and getting the results that we wanted and moving away from cooking quite so intensively there were a lot of tools that I no longer needed.
Yes, I had invested in them and yes, they were really useful for me at that time, but if I’m honest with myself, I don’t want to go back to that.
I’m very content with the way we eat right now and if I just held onto those things I’d be holding onto them for the rest of my life without using them.
#7 Is this something my hoped-for future self wants, needs, or uses, and am I likely to be that person?
Back when I got married we still registered for china and got crystal bowls and serving trays.
And thinking back then to my early twenties, I wanted to be that person that had elegant Christmas parties and served hors d’oeuvres with glasses of wine.
But the truth is I have never had an elegant dinner party and when our family does get together with friends it’s very relaxed and low key.
If I’m honest with myself, I don’t want to change that.
So what’s the point in hanging on to crystal and fine china if it’s just going to sit in my cupboard and take up valuable real estate that I could use for something that really benefits my life?
If on the other hand you look at that item and think, yep, I am definitely going to use that in my hoped-for future life, great.
That brings us to question number eight.
#8 So if I’m going to use it, when am I going to use it?
If you have an extremely busy life right now and you think, I’ll use it when I retire.
When are you going to retire? How long away is that?
Is it really going to save you anything if you hold onto it for that amount of time?
And if it’s some kind of specialty equipment, maybe it’s tart pans or a cake decorating kit and you so desperately want to use those things, then give yourself some kind of deadline.
For example, you can say “I’m going to declutter the kitchen this week, I’m going to get completely streamlined, and then Sunday I’m going to reward myself by baking a cake and using that cake decorating kit.”
Then when you get to that day and you sit down to use your cake decorating kit you can discover for yourself, do I really enjoy this?
Is this something I want to continue? Or is this just a fantasy that I had of the person I wanted to be?
And if it’s not relevant for your life, let’s get it out.
#9 What about just in case items? Shouldn’t we save things just in case we need them?
As a mom of six, I had a lot of things that I could save just in case I needed them.
Some things made sense: If I had duplicate spices, maybe chili powder, yes, our family uses that spice enough that I can keep that in the pantry and it will be useful to me in about six months and I can use it up.
But there were also a lot of things in my home that I found I was holding just in case because I was afraid of being caught unprepared.
I was afraid of having to do without.
The truth is it’s easy for us to acquire things.
If you think about the coffee cup, so many of us keep extra coffee cups!
“Well you know, we can use them just in case one breaks.”
But do we really need to hold on to 20 different coffee cups just in case one breaks?
If we break one coffee cup a year for the next 20 years, has that stash of extra coffee cups saved us very much money?
#10. Do I really want to keep all of this stuff and struggle and shuffle all of it around or would I prefer to let it go and have easier everyday living?
So many of the things that we keep just in case we need it or to save us money, get in our way and are a burden because we have to work around them all day long.
When we let go of extras, the dishes are easier to put away, the cupboards are easier to get into, I don’t have to stack and shuffle and push and shove.
Everything is based on ease of use.
No more stacking pots and pans and getting the step stool so I can reach into the tallest cupboard every time I want to use a rice cooker.
Getting rid of the excess was not easy at first, but it sure made my life easier in the end.