As you probably already know from experience, decluttering, as freeing as it can feel when you’re all done, can be a challenging process. It’s hard to get rid of your things! What if you need it some day? What if it has some sentimental value but you never use it? How do you get rid of gifts from other people without feeling guilty?
There are tons of tricks for rethinking the way you look at your things to make the whole paring down process a little bit easier—the 10/10 Exercise, for example, helps get you into the right frame of mind for decluttering and letting go of your attachments to things by helping you prioritize what matters to you, while the 90/90 Rule helps you look at your life and habits a little more practically.
So that’s the real secret to decluttering: It’s all about asking yourself questions! And if you’re still having trouble deciding what should stay and what should go, there’s one more tool you can add to your arsenal—it’s called the Ex Test.
How the “Ex Test” Can Help You Declutter
We all have an ex—be it an old romantic partner or a former friend—who we aren’t on good terms with or with whom things maybe ended badly (and if you don’t, the Ex Test won’t apply to you, but also, consider yourself lucky!).
It’s simple, really—think about an item you’re struggling to part with, and then ask yourself: If your most-hated ex had it in their possession, would you contact them to get it back? If the answer is no, then it’s not that important to you and you can get rid of it.
Maybe you won’t part with everything you’d hesitate to contact your ex for (you probably wouldn’t contact them to get a toaster back even if you use it all the time, so maybe don’t let that be the thing that makes you toss your toaster), but just asking yourself that question can help you nail down which of your things truly matter to you, and what you’re not really that attached to after all. An old t-shirt you barely wear and that has no sentimental value? You wouldn’t call your ex, and it can totally go in the donation pile.
With the Ex Test in mind, you might just have an easier time parting with things you don’t actually need or want, and you’ll have a better perspective on the stuff you actually love.