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A 3-Word Mantra To Help You Declutter

Deciding what to keep and what to let go of when decluttering can feel overwhelming. A great starting point is the three-word mantra “Use, Need Love”: do I NEED it? Do I USE it? Do I LOVE it?

It seems obvious, but success is determined by HOW you use these three words. Read below for tips to use this simple decluttering mantra meaningfully to get honest with yourself, stay focused, make decluttering easier, and get the results you want.

Do I USE it?

Use - A 3-Word Mantra To Help You Declutter

Items falling under this category are ones you use with some frequency, whether daily, monthly, or yearly. Things like dishes, linens, clothes you wear, games and toys that are played with, seasonal décor, serving ware you use to entertain, sporting and exercise equipment you use and so on. 



The key to making proper decisions about items in this category is to only keep items you ACTUALLY use, not ones you think you might need “someday,” things you’ve been meaning to use but haven’t, duplicates that aren’t necessary or are being kept “just in case.” 

For “someday” items, ask yourself whether your “someday” scenario is probable or merely possible . If it requires more than moderate changes to your current situation/lifestyle, it’s not probable and you should really consider letting the item go.

A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in the last 6-12 months, you can probably let it go. For more detailed tips on dealing with “Someday” clutter, click here.

Do I NEED it?

Need  - A 3-Word Mantra To Help You Declutter

I’m sure you’d consider some items listed in the “Use” category as “Need” items, like dishes, linens and clothes. While you do “need” these things, the focus for this category is a bit different. 

Here, the focus is on items you need but don’t use frequently. I know this appears to fly in the face of what I just said above, but this category includes important documents such as Wills, Marriage and Birth Certificates, mortgage and tax documents etc., and items like a fire extinguisher, a fire escape ladder and a plunger.  

Although you don’t use these things frequently (or hopefully ever in some cases), they’re items you need to keep because they have specific legal, lifesaving or home maintenance purposes. Keeping them is different than keeping the ice cream maker you haven’t used in 2 years because you’re holding on to the belief you might one day.


“Need” items are things you keep even though you may never use them because there would be challenging and negative consequences if you did need them and didn’t have them. Whereas the consequence of letting go of the ice cream maker you last used two years ago is you must go to the store and buy ice cream if you want it. So, you can see how that’s different!

Do I LOVE it?



Love - A 3-Word Mantra To Help You Declutter

Lastly, these are items that bring you joy. Items falling under this category include your Harry Potter collection, the broaches you inherited from your great aunt, your child’s schoolwork, the concert ticket stubs from your youth, your late grandfather’s fishing gear, and so on.   

You don’t “need” any of these things for any specific purpose, and you don’t “use” them in your daily life, but you love the memories they represent and they genuinely make you happy. These sentimental items should be kept.


But there are two caveats. First, you should only keep items you currently love and bring you joy. Although you may have loved your collection of troll dolls as a 12-year-old, let them go if they don’t speak to you in the same way now.


Second, only keep items you can properly honour and store. Keeping things shoved in a box at the back of your closet or the basement is not bringing you joy or honouring the memories.  

Keeping everything lets your past take over your home, and the most meaningful keepsakes don’t get to truly shine. Letting go doesn’t erase the memories or experiences; you’ll always have those. What it does is make room for the person you are today. 


When you only keep the most meaningful items, it’s easier to properly honour and appreciate your past in alignment with the life and space you have now. For creative ways to celebrate your past in alignment with your present, click here.


Conclusion - A 3-Word Mantra To Help You Declutter

Deciding what to keep and what to let go of when decluttering can be challenging. This simple three-word mantra to get honest with yourself guides you through the process, keeps you focused, makes decluttering easier, and helps you get the results you want.


What category is most challenging for you? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you liked this post, please share it!



Happy Organizing!