You know the drill. Keep, sell, toss. Only keep what you truly love or find to be useful. Ask yourself if your stuff sparks joy. All of these mantras to help you declutter, and yet we still struggle with getting rid of our excess stuff.
7 Mistakes People Make When Decluttering
Everyone is decluttering. And everyone is talking about how good it feels to do it. You save money when you know what you have and where it is. If you haven’t read the The Joy of Less yet then you are missing out, as it literally changed my life and perception of “things” that we hoard and keep. But keep in mind, that decluttering is a lot of work. And it’s easy to make mistakes like the ones mentioned below.
Starting out overwhelmed.
You cannot look at your entire house filled with stuff and think that you’re going to tackle it in a day or even a weekend. Starting out overwhelmed with the process will just lead you to quit that much sooner. You need to start small. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! The same thing goes for decluttering. Start with one room – or even one closet or one drawer and then move on to the rest.
Failing to start with a goal.
Why are you decluttering? Is your goal to make more space in your home? Are you trying to raise some cash by getting rid of stuff? Start with an end goal in mind. You will have an easier time decluttering if you know you are working toward an achievable goal.
Getting rid of too much (or not enough).
You not only need to set goals for the process, you need to have a plan for your stuff. You need to determine exactly what it is you need. How many sets of bed sheets do you really need. How many years do you need to keep that old paperwork? You may only use some items once or twice a year during the holidays, but if they are an important part of the celebration, make sure you keep them. There is a fine balancing act between getting rid of too much and keeping too much. Find out what you need to achieve your goals and feel comfortable with the results.
Money Beagle says
Your first point is a great one. My basement is in horrible shape and I know that I need to do something about it. I actually plan to segment off the basement using painters tape on the floor so that I can concentrate on one area at a time. Sometimes that’s the only way!
Christina Brown says
I love the idea of using the painter’s tape to mark off areas. That would also be helpful for sorting stuff, too!
Emotion always gets the better of me. Every time I attempt to clear out the understairs cupboard, I find something that brings back a memory or two and convince myself I’ll use the item again. It’s not decluttering – its more like stocktaking my clutter.
Christina Brown says
I’ve definitely been there before, John! Sometimes I find it helpful to have a friend or family member help me go through that kind of stuff. They can help “talk some sense into you.”
I find that keeping my end goal in mind helps with this part, too. I remind myself of the “why” I want to declutter – Marie Kondo reminds people in her book that the possessions should support your preferred lifestyle. That idea helps me get over the emotions. Guilt, anxiety, wishing, and hoping I’ll use my clutter is totally different than owning things that support the lifestyle I really want.
WHEN THIS HAPPENS TO ME I TAKE A PICTURE OF THE ITEM AND STORE IT AWAY IN A FOLDER ON MY COMPUTER MARKED MEMORIES.
Ardyce Wiemers says
Great ideas. I read somewhere (apologies to the writer) a suggestion to gather all like things together; all picture frames, all plastic food containers,etc. Choose the ones you want to keep..get rid of the others. This seems logical. Other wise, you keep running into picture frames, or plastic containers where ever they are stored in your home.
This is an idea my friend and I have come up with for my downsizing move! I also have a plan in mind to get everything organized when I get moved. I will have boxes marked and go through other boxes putting things in their place or their marked box. I know this will take awhile but I have more time than money! Thanks for putting the idea on paper in a good place for all.
Christina Brown says
It sounds like you have a great plan in place! Good luck on your move!
I wild love some ideas on how to declutter or organize a room that has multiple purposes. Mostly computers, electronic cords, books in bookcases, two desks for computers, a printer, router, tons of photos to organize and a sewing machine. Help!!!!
Christina Brown says
First, start with purging everything you don’t absolutely need. (Even photos!) Then, work on creating zones for things – craft items in one area, computer/tech stuff in another. It takes some time, but I find that emptying all the stuff out and starting with a clean slate (so to speak) can really help you gain perspective.
Lilli Torbert says
What if you live with a pack rat/hoarder who, as your trying to declutter and clear out, they are freaking out over you throwing away an envelope from a paid three month old reoccurring bill? Or a ripped pair of jeans he hasn’t fit into in 6 years? I’ve tried to reason with him , but all I ever hear is I don’t throw your stuff away! Help!
Anne Boutilier says
I have the same problem as Lilli Torbert, but from a slightly different angle.
I am the packrat/collector, much nicer than hoarder.
I have just learned that I don’t have to keep papers. The only ones are got and house, special ones. That is so freeing. I’m going to ask some friends to bring their shredders and we’ll have a shredding party.
I am a crafter, seamstress, jewelry maker, knit/crocheter, woodworker, and anything else that strikes my fancy, oh yeah, things for fairy gardens too. So, I have tons of stuff in my house. PLUS memories of my family, antiques etc. Is there hope for me?
Where I get tripped up is the paragraph about upcycling, selling, or donating. Everything I have to get rid of could fall into one of these categories. I think, well this item I could maybe do something with later so it stays. This item I could make a decent return on if I sold it, so it stays. If I’m going to try to sell this one, I may as well sell that one, so I won’t load up for donations just yet. A yard sale sounds overwhelming right now though, maybe next spring. I’ve listed and sold online and that is another time-eater answering a million questions, asking for more pictures, trying to schedule a meet up time………and there it is. Nothing gets done but a shuffle and I give up.
Mary Ann Akana says
In dealing with an enormous amount of things, I start by completely emptying out the room. Yes, furniture & all! I give the room a face lift with fresh paint too and a new ceiling light fixture if necessary.
Then I bring in the main furniture . Decorate and select only the bare essentials. I keep focused on a picture on hand with the end desire.
The rest gets sorted out later. But at least the room looks great.
I’ve had a hard time getting rid of things/clutter for years! When I say hard time, I mean absolute packrat! ? Then I had an incredible breakthrough mind shift. I started volunteering with Meals on Wheels & was awakened by the amount of poverty and need there is right in my little town! I knew it was there but I had not seen it first hands. I started looking at my “one day I might need this” stuff and thinking “someone needs this RIGHT NOW”. Everytime I start to declutter I think “does someone NEED this more than me”. “Would it serve them better than just collecting dust for me.?” The answer is almost always YES and it feels SO GOOD to know my clutter is someone else’s treasure.
I think, “Can I afford to go buy another if I really found I needed it?” (almost always yes). “Could they afford to buy it AT ALL? “ (almost always No) Thinking of others before myself, imagining their joy & graditude makes all the difference. Then I donate my items to a LOCAL charity or resell center. That lets me know it will positively impact my community & the people in it. If you haven’t thought about decluttering in this way go drive through the poorest parts of your town. Look at children with nothing living in shacks and then go home and try decluttering. I can almost bet you that drive will make all the difference you need to see your clutter in a whole new positive light! ?