Decluttering: 5 Simple Questions That Will Make it Easier


5 simple questions when decluttering feels hard - Jessica Rose Williams

The benefits of living a clutter free life are well documented; better health, more freedom and less stress to name a few. I’m a huge fan of decluttering and still do it on a regular basis. The thing with clutter is that it’s constantly coming into our lives so we need to continually assess it to deal with it in a positive way. The actual decluttering process can be really difficult and it can be hard to know where to start. You can read about minimalism and me and how it all started.

Surprise surprise, I like to keep things simple. There’s a lot of information available on minimalism and decluttering and being the researcher that I am, I have read a lot of it. After all my research and my own personal experiences, these are the five questions I find myself asking when deciding what to keep and what to discard. I’m hoping you find them useful and they will save you some time.


Everything in our lives should have a purpose. If something doesn’t have a purpose, it is useless. Why would you want useless things in your life? The purpose doesn’t have to be a physical use, it can be something that inspires you or makes you genuinely happy. If it does nothing for you however, it’s time to discard it.

It’s shocking how many items we have that do exactly the same thing – I know someone with 4 vacuum cleaners! Duplicates are an easy place to start – they are not necessary. Choose your favourite out of all the items that do the same thing and discard the rest.

If you haven’t used something in the last 6 months or 12 months in the case of seasonal items, the chances are that you never will – bye bye. We keep just incase items but the truth is that we’re planning for situations that haven’t even happened. Taking a more realistic approach will keep your clutter down.


Knowing the answer to this takes a little practice. It is so easy to answer yes to everything you’re thinking about decluttering – but I’d encourage you to take the time to really think about it and be honest with yourself. Go with your gut feeling here and don’t be afraid to compare items. Find the one thing that makes you happiest and compare other items to that.

If you haven’t used something in 6 months then you already know the answer to this one (you never will!) but sometimes we will use things that we could manage without. If you’re not sure, try living without it. My favourite method is to put things in a box, out of sight. If you haven’t opened the box after say a few weeks, you have your answer. When you come to discarding, don’t open the box as you’ll stir up feelings of do I need this again.

I hope these tips help you declutter a few more items. As always, let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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20 comments on “Decluttering: 5 Simple Questions That Will Make it Easier”

  1. These are all awesome questions! I am really digging number 5 in particular. I think so much of what we own is for convenience sake, when we could just as easily do without it (my garlic press springs to mind). If i asked myself this question, i am sure i could find loads of stuff i dont actually need! Thanks for the lovely food for thought!

    1. Ha ha I love the garlic press example. I’m always trying to think of how I can manage with even less and living without something for a while will tell me if I really need it or not. You’re welcome for the food for thought! Love hearing from you x

  2. I love this post Jessica! Question 5 is such a good one. I am DEFINITELY guilty of holding onto things i use but don’t really need. It’s easy to ignore ways we could Simplify our lives just by not aSking the quesTion. your home looks So streamlined and calming Too xoxo

    1. Thank you Emily! So glad you enjoyed it and it resonated with you. Glad you liked the home snap too. I agree, it is so easy to ignore ways to simplify – or make excuses xx

    1. So many! Firstly, don’t use that as an excuse not to declutter yourself. I’m going to do a separate post just on this because a few people have asked now. Watch this space.

  3. I agree completely with what you have said. I try to apply minimalism and simplicity to my life as well (not just for physical stuffs). I only buy and keep the things that can be useful in the long run. It can be a little hard at first. Especially if you have some personal attachment to those stuffs. But, it is for the better. Minimalism is a great way towards simplicity and fight against consumerism. 🙂

    1. Personal attachment was tough for me and I’m going to do a post dedicated to that because it keeps coming up for a lot of people. You’re right though, it is for the better. Consumerism genuinely makes me sad. I wanted off the merry go round a long time ago.

  4. i love what you do in this space. I live in a tiny apartment, so in that way i’m forced to live “minimally” and it has made me realise we re d n that many things in life. hope to see more posts from you on minimalism – i think we could all do with more of it!

    1. Thanks. Plenty more minimalism posts on the way! I could happily live in a smaller space to be honest with you.

      1. Once, while in dire circumstances, I lived in someone’s furnished garage apartment. Almost all of my earthly possessions were in storage for a year and a half. It felt so freeing and simple to live that minimally. I realized that life is not stuff. Life is ME. Wish the lesson had stuck. Here I am with a bunch of junk again. Mostly paper problems. Would you be willing to address paper in a blog post? What to keep, What to toss, how to organize? Talk me out of keeping papers I will probably never reference again. It’s my weakness. Thanks!

        1. That’s so interesting that you loved the feeling of living in a way most people would think unbearable. I have been through the paper problem and I have cracked it so I’d be happy to share what worked for me in a post. Thanks for the inspiration. In the meantime these five questions are definitely applicable to paper.

  5. These are all really great tips! I’ve read a few posts like this that I usually find not helpful/the same, but you’ve put some really good questions that I wouldn’t have thought to ask myself.

    In fact, I could have used these questions during our ‘spring clean’ over the Easter weekend. I’m definitely less minimalist than I’d like, and I think a lot of that is bad habits that (slowly) need to be reformed. There’s a chance we may be moving (I’ll chat to you about that later… and we need to make sure we get a meet-in-person-date in before then!), and I’m hoping that a new place will be my fresh start. Here’s to hoping!

    Eire x

    1. Thanks Eire. These are all the questions I actually use after all the books, blogs etc that I’ve read. They work for me so I thought them worth a share. You can make the change. I’m cheering you on! Look forward to hearing from you x

  6. Sometimes I’ll see something in the house – like the clay paw print of our dog that my daughter made when she was 10 years old, it hangs over the kitchen sink. I say to myself, I would never DREAM of getting rid of that. To me, that is a gut feeling. Anything (other than essential, practical things) that doesn’t invoke that strong feeling can probably go and never be missed. I love your writings. I love that they are succinct and distilled, if you will. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Some things are worth keeping, I FIND IT REALLY INTERESTING TO KNOW WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE. i tend not to keep things on display but i do have a box of treasures.

    1. make sure you let me know how you get on! I love hearing about people’s experiences. You can find me here, on twitter, facebook or instagram x

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