Are you making these decluttering mistakes?

Decluttering can be easy and rewarding when you know the right things to do and more importantly when you know what not to do. Unfortunately, most people are making three huge mistakes right out of the gate. Mistakes that will zap your energy, lead to poor decision making, or make you think you need an expert. Even popular decluttering and organizing ‘experts’ will show you processes that end up flattening the efforts of the everyday person.

When the single biggest source of overwhelm in our home is clutter, the last thing you want is to have your efforts overwhelm you more. The point is to make your life easier. Learn what you might be doing that is making this critical home-keeping task harder than it has to be by finding out these three common mistakes below.

By avoiding what I call “declutter-killers” and making my quick adjustments, you will learn how decluttering can be a quick and easy process that results in a clutter-free home that you love almost instantly.


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Decluttering mistake #1

Deciding what to keep/discard one item at a time.

The most common approach to decluttering is opening a drawer, a closet or a room and making decisions one item at a time. This happens because we either don’t know where to start or we are trying to be very careful and deliberate with each item. The problem with this approach is that it ushers in decision fatigue within minutes, and decision fatigue is a decluttering killer.

Pile of clothes on beige chairWhat does that all mean? Simply put, the more decisions you have to make, the more your brain fatigues and the quality of your decisions weaken, resulting in compromise, trade-offs and procrastination. Sadly, this results with discarding items you may later regret, or decluttering too little and remain in a suffocating and cluttered condition. Instead, follow an approach that supports sound, brief and confident decision making.

I recommend taking the “what do I need approach.” For example, before you start, you ask yourself, what are the basics that you need to function. Once you see how few you need, the rest is extra and you can choose from there what you can store without feeling cluttered. Everything else needs to be decluttered. This technique allows you to make significantly fewer decisions and therefore avoid decision fatigue. I promise you will make more significant and long-lasting strides.

Decluttering Mistake #2

Complicating the decluttering process

Imagine this scenario. You just bought the cutest baskets for your bathroom closet, and you have visions that it will look and feel like a spa every time you open the door. When you get home you are so excited and dig in right away.

Basket with clean towels on bathroom counterTo your dismay you find they’re not quite the right size, your belongings take up more space than you thought and you still need a place for the hairdryer. Tired but finished you find that the end result is very similar to when you started but with the addition of the cute baskets. Not exactly the spa vision you had in mind. Sound familiar?

The common mistake is a result of doing the wrong things in the wrong order and complicating the declutter process. Decluttering is always the first step before organizing or using storage containers. Unless you are a pro, this will lead to confusion and waste both your time and money. Instead, set your sights solely on decluttering, and leave the other processes for later.

Decluttering Mistake #3

Not doing it at all

Clutter can be most simply defined as having extras. As we acquire items we bring them into our homes. The more items we have the space in our homes fill up. When our space fills and things are left strewn about, the more difficult it becomes to function in our homes. This results in low chronic stress, i.e. overwhelm. When overwhelmed we often think, it will wait for another day. Herein lies the problem.

You don’t have room in the house, things are tossed around haphazardly and you are still shopping! So more and more items gradually keep coming into the home but nothing is going out! So your clutter, your stress and your frustration with your space slowly grows and your home functioning declines.

Stressed woman in messy baby roomClutter is a problem that won’t fix itself. The worst part is when you are so overwhelmed that thinking of decluttering overwhelms you even more. Therefore, it’s important to be sure that you are using techniques that give you long term results and instant gains. The first step is making the decision to stop delaying and act before it gets worse. Start by going for the low hanging fruit and doing what I call a 5-minute purge.

Here’s what you do. Grab a bag and without overthinking, for five minutes begin filling your bag as quickly as you can with items around the home that are broken, have missing parts, don’t fit or are otherwise unused. Bag it and put it by the door to go out immediately.

This quick and easy 5-minute purge will give you instant gratification. It’s amazing how light, calm and focused you feel when you do this once per day. You may likely even become motivated to go deeper. Just be sure you are avoiding mistakes and using the right techniques. A calm and clutter-free life doesn’t have to be minimal, just in balance.

Deciding to act, and keeping the process clear and simple will deliver you the calm life you crave. You deserve to love your home and love living in it. Avoiding these common mistakes will put you on course for declutter success.

Just know this, you don’t have to have money, lots of time or special skills to get there. You just have to know how to do the right things and in the right order. When you do, voila, you will be thriving in your home before you know it. If you would like more help or information, you can access my Living Calm & Clutter-Free Training for a comprehensive whole house declutter so your efforts are one and done.

Here’s to happy home living!