The Critical Question To Ask to Get Rid of Clutter

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Most of us have too much stuff. Some of it we bought ourselves. Some of it was given to us. Some of it is inherited or because we started yet another collection. However it comes into our lives, most of us look around one day and ask, “Where the heck did all this mess come from?” The other question we ask is, “How on earth do I get rid of all this clutter?”

Critical question to ask to get rid of clutter

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I’ve had an up-close and personal battle with “stuff” and clutter for quite a while now. You may know that I’ve recently moved back to my hometown and in to my father’s house. My mother was a collector extraordinaire. And she had a lot of beautiful pieces. But that means that I’ve moved MY stuff into a house already stuffed with THEIR stuff!

But you know what makes it even worse? Added into the mix is the fact that a lot of stuff that belonged to my grandmother is still on the property and needs to be dealt with. In other words, I’m three generations deep in “stuff”.


Now before we sold our other house and moved out here I held two garage sales. I’d been working my way through my mother’s “stuff” for a couple of years and knew that in order to move in, we’d have to pare down.

And we did. Some of the stuff we sold, donated, gave away, and tossed was easy. Some of it wasn’t.

It’s funny how attached we get to our stuff.

Now, you’ve probably seen all kinds of books, blog posts, courses, TV programs, etc. that promise to help you get rid of your clutter. Downsizing seems to be all the rage these days. Frankly, I think anything that helps us deal with the stuff in our lives is a good thing. One resource I particularly like is the Conquer Your Clutter bundle. Another resource I’m diving in to I’ll tell you about in a few days.

The problem is that even when you get rid of a lot of stuff, clutter has a way of creeping back into your life when you’re not looking. I know – I’ve been there.

I’d collect stuff, get frustrated, toss, donate, and sell, and then one day I’d open my eyes and my house would be just as full as it was before I did the last big decluttering.

But one day the answer hit me like a bolt of lightning. And I think it’s the question we need to ask ourselves before we bring any more items into our house and as we’re going through belongings we already own.

Here it is….

Ask this question to help you get rid of clutter…

Do I love this item enough to want my children to have to deal with it after I’m dead?

That’s it. And it probably seems pretty harsh. It probably also sounds morbid. I mean, who wants to think about life in terms of what will happen when we’re gone. But I bet that once you begin to think about your “stuff” as something your kids will have to clean out after you’re gone, you’ll start to think about it in a different light. The question will force you to really focus on items that bring you joy and that you love.

You see, I’d just returned from a session in which I’d been dealing with my mother’s possessions. I was in the middle of cleaning my own house when the realization dawned on me that one day my own children would be doing exactly what I’d been doing – going through  stuff and trying to figure out what to do with it.

It was crystal clear that I didn’t want to leave as much “stuff” for them to deal with as had been left to me.

Granted, there is a certain amount of stuff in our house that our kids will have to deal with when we’re dead. We cant live in houses that are totally bare. We need pans to cook in, plates to eat off of, knives, forks, and spoons to eat with.

We need bath towels to dry our bodies. We want a bed to sleep in and places for company to sit. There is a certain amount of stuff that’s associated with being alive. And that’s okay.

But there is a limit.

Be thoughtful and intentional about your possessions

My new criteria for bringing items into my home doesn’t imply that we should get rid of every single item we own and live in a house with no furniture, no decoration, and that doesn’t please us. But it does mean asking ourselves the hard questions when the impulse to buy that “gotta have it” item kicks in. Have you ever bought an item that you later regretted and then wondered why you’d wasted the money?

If we look at items and think, “Do I want my kids to have to deal with that later?” instead of, “Ooh, I like that”, we’re likely to be more discerning in our purchases. That saves us money, space, and reduces the stress our kids will have to deal with later.

It’s a pretty good gift to give your kids.

I’ll have a new post on the topic of clutter next month (tentatively set for May 15). If you’d like to be notified when it comes out please sign up for my weekly email. Every Wednesday you’ll get links to what’s new on the blog as well as exclusive content, offers, and other information. What you won’t get is a ton of emails – one a week and that’s all.

I hope you’ll return to join me in June. Each Monday I’ll add a new post on clutter, dealing with stuff, and organizing.

Have you had a clutter problem you had to deal with?

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