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7 Decluttering Mistakes + What to Do Instead

7 Decluttering Mistakes + What to Do Instead

After a lifetime of decluttering experience (seriously, I’ve been happily decluttering since I was a small child), I’ve learned that there are some decluttering mistakes that can keep you from achieving the fabulous results that you want.

I want you to be successful as you work to declutter your home, so I’ll let you in on seven mistakes that could trip you up and, most importantly, what to do instead.

So let’s dive in!

Sidenote: If you want to jumpstart your decluttering, sign up for my 4-Day Declutter Challenge below!

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7 Decluttering Mistakes + What to Do Instead

1. Waiting For More Time

It definitely sounds ideal to have a big chunk of time to be able to go through an area in your house. But it’s not necessary at all! You can make great decluttering progress in 15 minute chunks of time.

Waiting until you have a free weekend often turns into an excuse not to take action. And let’s face it: you’re never going to have a totally free weekend, and even if you do, you have other things you’d rather do with it! 

What to Do Instead:

Start now! Small, consistent efforts will give you great results.

Spend 15 minutes tonight going through one drawer. Or drag a box of stuff to your living room and sort through it while you watch Netflix. Go through the stack of papers on your kitchen counter while you wait for the oven to preheat. Make it happen! 

2. Deciding What to Get Rid Of

“Huh?? I thought decluttering meant getting rid of things.” True, but I’ve found that deciding what you want to get rid of is not nearly as effective as deciding what you want to keep. 

If you look in your closet and as yourself “what do I want to get rid of?” and then “what do I want to keep?”, I’m guessing you’ll end up with two very different answers.

“Curate” your belongings so that you are left with the good stuff — the stuff that is right for you. 

What to Do Instead:

As you work through each area, ask yourself “what do I want to keep?” It allows you mentally un-own everything and start fresh with what you would choose if you had nothing. 

3. Starting Sentimental

Keepsakes, heirlooms, and other sentimental stuff is just hard to go through. If you haven’t built up your decluttering muscles, this stuff can stop you in your tracks and keep you from making any other progress.

What to Do Instead:

I recommend that you start with the easy stuff first: your junk drawer, sock drawer, or office supplies.

Have some solid success and start to feel how good it is to live in a less cluttered home. Then tackle the sentimental stuff. 

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4. Starting With Other People’s Stuff

I know, your spouse’s and kid’s stuff is much more obnoxious to you than your own.

Many people get motivated to dive into decluttering and want to start with other people’s stuff, and it’s just not a good idea. How would you feel if your spouse came home and told you they wanted to get rid of your stuff all of the sudden. It would probably make you defensive and maybe a bit angry. 

What to Do Instead:

Start with your own stuff. Declutter every area of your home that is under your control first. That means your clothes, shoes, and hobby supplies. If the office or kitchen are mostly your domain, declutter those areas as well.

You’ll lead by example, which may inspire your family members to declutter all on their own. Your family will also start to feel the benefits of a less cluttered house, which may motivate them to take action with their stuff.

The Daily Cleaning Checklist

Even if they are still declutter-resistant when it’s time to go through their stuff, at least they will know that you are not putting them through anything you weren’t willing to do yourself. 

5. Exploding Everywhere

It’s so easy to lose energy part-way through a decluttering project. You start out all motivated and pull crap out of every drawer and closet, then quickly get overwhelmed and don’t have the time or energy to deal with it all. I’ve totally been there! But you want things to look and feel better when you’re done, not worse, right? 

2 Minute Tip Video: Contain Your Enthusiasm (the decluttering tip you need right now)

What to Do Instead:

Work in small sections and completely finish each area before moving on.

You may have to hold yourself back a little bit because it is so tempting to go big. You can always keep going and do more after you finish the section you’re working on, but don’t pull out too much at once. 

6. Forgetting to Reflect

Unfortunately, decluttering isn’t really a “one and done” activity. Stuff keeps entering your home, so you keep having to deal with it.

But you can make this a whole lot easier by taking some time to reflect. 

What to Do Instead:

Every time you declutter, take a look at the pile of stuff you’re getting rid of and analyze it for a minute. Where did it all come from?

Did your kids simply grow out of the clothes they were wearing or did you buy more than they needed? Or did you accept hand-me-downs you didn’t need? You can change how you act going forward to keep the excess stuff from making its way into your house. 

I recently decided to stop shopping at thrift stores after I decluttered my closet and realized that half of what I was getting rid of was clothing from the thrift store that I didn’t quite love. I just don’t make great purchasing decisions at the thrift store and it ends up turning into clutter, so I’ve changed how I shop going forward to eliminate the clutter. 

7. Leaving It In the House

This is a big one! How many times have you gotten together a pile of stuff you don’t need and then it sat in a pile in your guest room for the next year? Ugh!

The job is not done until the stuff is out of your house. 

What to Do Instead:

Leave yourself time at the end of each decluttering project to finish up. Throw out the trash and put bags of stuff to donate in your car or by the front door to drop off somewhere in the next 48 hours.

Only save stuff for a garage sale if you actually have a garage sale date scheduled on your calendar. If you want to sell some items individually, give yourself a deadline to do it by. If you haven’t done it by then, donate them.

It’s still your clutter until its gone, so get it out! 

I hope can see how each of these mistakes could cause you to be less than successful when it comes to creating a clutter-free home. Are there any that you have made before?

As you work through each area of your home, be sure to keep these in mind and follow the tips for what to do instead. You’ll be seeing fabulous results in no time!

7 Decluttering Mistakes + What to Do Instead

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