Do any of the following hurdles resonate with you?
Keeping things “just in case.” One common reason I used to hold onto things I didn’t use or need was out of fear, hidden behind stress-provoking “just-in-case” thinking. The fact is you can likely find a way to talk yourself into keeping just about anything. Maybe you say that you should keep that stack of towels you never use “just in case” you have 13 house guests all stay with you at the same time. Or “what if” you decide to go skiing for the first time this century and need your skis? You want to be prepared. Maybe keeping the extra stuff makes you feel like you are safe or stocked up. Meanwhile, this scarcity mindset ends up filling your home with unloved and useless clutter.
- What to do about “just in case” clutter. The best way to get rid of “just in case” clutter is thinking through each “just in case” scenario that arises. How likely is the scenario to happen? Has it ever happened before? What could you use instead, if you didn’t have your extra “just in case” items? Could you rent or borrow what you’d need? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you got rid of those things? Often, when you think through the “just in case” thoughts, you’re able to see the fear driving them. Then make more logical choices about what you really use and need. Using a “maybe box” is a great way to overcome “just in case” feelings. Put anything you’re worried about needing in a box, seal the box, put it out of sight and add a reminder in your phone for a few months in the future. If you haven’t needed anything from the box when the reminder goes, toss it!
Guilt. Many people keep clutter in their homes out of guilt. Maybe you feel guilty about the money you wasted on something that you never really used or even liked. You may keep an item you don’t use or love because it was a gift and you feel guilty tossing it. Or, maybe you feel obliged to keep an unwanted family heirloom because it was passed on to you.
- What to avoid keeping stuff out of guilt. To avoid keeping clutter out of guilt, set boundaries for yourself. After all, you are the one who gets to decide what things fill your space. You not need keep items that just take up your time, space and energy, just because you feel guilty getting rid of them.You won’t feel less guilty by keeping them longer. Indeed, you’ll still feel guilty whenever you see the unwanted or unused item around your house. Get rid of those items now, let go of the guilt and move on. If you feel guilty about the money you spent on something you’re getting rid of, know that keeping the item won’t recoup the money you spent. Get rid of whatever you don’t use or love and use it as a lesson to make more intentional purchases in the future. If you feel guilty getting rid of a gift, tell yourself that the purpose of a gift is for someone to show how much they care about you. Once the gift has been accepted and the love behind it acknowledged, it’s up to you to decide what to do with it. Should you opt to get rid of a gift, know that it has already served its purpose so you need not feel guilty about getting rid of it.
3. Sentimental clutter. It’s easy to attach feelings, memories and emotions to stuff you own. It’s okay to have things that hold sentimental value. The problem arises when you attach sentimental value to too many things and end up with too much sentimental clutter.
- What to do about too much sentimental clutter. The first step in dealing with sentimental clutter is recognizing that your memories aren’t in the items themselves. Those items remind you of an important memory, but you will always have the memories, regardless of whether you keep the item or not. Next, remind yourself that the more sentimental items you keep, the less special they all become. Their value becomes diluted because you have too many special things. When you keep a few highly sentimental items, you will appreciate them more. If you can find ways to display sentimental items in your home, you can appreciate them on a regular basis. For everything else, set space limits for your sentimental items. Decide how much space feels right to you and use that limit to keep your sentimental items under control.
4. You’ve become clutter blind At times you’re so used to seeing all the stuff in your home that you don’t even notice it anymore. You become clutter blind!
- What to do when you’re clutter blind. Get a fresh perspective of your home by taking pictures of your rooms and studying them. Seeing your home in pictures gives you more objectivity. Take a step back and see your home from a different perspective. Another ideal way to overcome clutter blindness is to pretend that you’re listing your home for sale. Take pictures of each room or walk through each room and consider what you would do if you were actually listing your home for sale today. Look at it from a buyer’s perspective as well to see what you would notice about the space if it wasn’t yours. It can be tough to totally overcome clutter blindness, but the more objectively you can see your home, the easier the clutter is to identify!
5. You have no time to declutter. Another common reason for too much clutter in your home is feeling like you have no time to spend decluttering.
- What to do when you have too much clutter & no time. If you feel like you have no time to declutter, clearing the clutter from your home is even more important! The less stuff you have in your home, the more time and energy you’ll give yourself. Simply because your home and the stuff in it will take less time and energy to manage.
If you feel like you have no time to declutter, start small. Try spending 10 minutes a day looking for things to declutter. Or always keep an eye out for things you can discard as you go about your day, like when you’re tidying up, cooking or doing laundry. These efforts will works toward success in your decluttering success when you actively clear the clutter from your home consistently.
6. You don’t know where to start decluttering. If your home is filled with too much clutter, you will likely feel completely overwhelmed and not even know where to start decluttering. Overwhelm and indecision can be huge decluttering roadblocks.. What to do when you’re overwhelmed or don’t know where to start decluttering. Just like when you feel like you have no time to declutter, the best way to start decluttering when you feel overwhelmed is by starting small.
The toughest part of decluttering is getting started. When you start small, it’s easier to get started and stay inspired to keep going!
Try to spend 10 minutes a day decluttering. Or find 10 things each day to get rid of. Or tackle one drawer at a time. If you don’t know where to start decluttering. Start somewhere easy. Picking a small neutral space without sentimental items makes it asier to declutter.
The bathroom, pantry and coat closet are all great places to start. Not only are the decluttering decisions easier in these spaces. But you’ll make progress quickly and get a quick decluttering “win”, which helps motivate and encourage you to keep going!
Pus, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much clutter, the more you declutter, the easier your home and the stuff that fills it will be to manage. Reminding yourself of this when you feel overwhelmed is how to stay motivated to keep going.
7. You don’t know what to do with the clutter.. Another common reason people keep clutter they don’t use or love is simply because you don’t know what to do with it!
Maybe you’re not sure where to take the clothes you never wear. Or what to do with outgrown toys, unused kitchen stuff or the books you’ll never read again. It seems easier to just keep the clutter instead of figuring out what to do with it.
What to do when you have too much clutter & no idea what to do with it
It’s easy to put off figuring out what to do with the stuff you’re decluttering because it seems like a lot of work. But in reality, a few quick google searches will give you a good list of options of local places that take the clutter you’re getting rid of. And when you spend a few minutes figuring out what to do with the stuff you’re decluttering, it can make the whole decluttering process quicker and easier. You’ll get rid of a huge decluttering roadblock when you know exactly what to do with the stuff you’re getting rid of. Check out this post for a great list of what to do with stuff you’re getting rid of.
8. Keeping aspirational clutter for your fantasy self
At times people keep stuff in their homes because it represents a version of the fantasy self they aspire to be. Maybe you love the idea of a scuba diving so you collect equipment and supplies for it, but never actually use the stuff. Or maybe you wish you were someone who needed a certain kind of wardrobe and keep buying clothes for that kind of lifestyle. But in reality, rarely or never wear those items in your daily life. It’s even easy to link the stuff you own to your identity. Maybe you feel like if you own certain things you’ll be perceived in a certain way, regardless of if you actually use them.
- What to do about aspirational clutter. Getting rid of aspirational clutter requires some self-reflection. If you are serious about clearing the clutter from your home, it’s important to honestly assess what you actually need and use versus what you wish you needed and used. Being very honest with yourself is a crucial part of decluttering and simplifying. Aim to keep the things you use and love, and get rid of the things you rarely or never use, even if you love the idea of them! Remind yourself that you are defined by what you do in life, not what you own. Don’t fall into the trap of linking your identity to the stuff you own. Show the world who you are through your actions, not your stuff!
9. Keeping clutter from your past self. Just like aspirational clutter, you can also keep clutter from your past self and who you used to be. Life is constantly shifting and changing. Your needs and interests change, the season of life you’re in changes, your lifestyle changes, your family changes, etc. What you used, loved or needed in the past isn’t always what you use, need and love today.y
- What to do about clutter from your past self. Just like with aspirational clutter, it’s important to identify what you use, need and love in your life right now. Even if it is something you used or loved in the past, it doesn’t mean it is still something you use or love. Be honest about how your needs and lifestyle have shifted and changed, so you don’t end up keeping clutter from a version of your past self.
10. Keeping “someday” clutter. Another common source of too much clutter is “someday” clutter. These are the things you might use, need or do someday. It might be the workout equipment you might need someday.. Or the scrapbook of your child’s first year that you’ll finish someday.
- What to do about too much “someday” clutter“Someday” clutter also requires being brutally honest with yourself. How likely is “someday” to happen?
Give yourself deadlines to start using your “someday” clutter. If the deadline comes and you still haven’t used or needed the items, get rid of them and recognize that you’ll likely never use or need them.
11. Overbuying. One common source of too much clutter comes from overbuying or buying things you didn’t use or need.. Overbuying can occur when you see a good deal and want to stock up. Problems arise, however, when you frequently overbuy and end up with more than you can possibly use.
- What to do about clutter from overbuying? Reducing clutter from overbuying can require a change in your current habits and shopping behaviour. It helps to remind yourself that even if something is a good deal, it doesn’t always make sense to stock up. You will have to give up space in your home to store the items and time in your day to manage those extra items. Even if it’s not as good of a deal, it might make more sense to buy in smaller amounts to save time and space. Let the store worry about storing the extras and only buy more when you need it. And even if you have space to store the extra items, it doesn’t mean you need or will use them. Just buy what you need, then buy more when you run out.
Identify why you are holding onto clutter you don’t use, need or love, then start clearing the clutter to enjoy the benefits of a clutter-free life!