Americans have a huge problem with clutter. Look around any neighborhood and you will see cars parked outside and the inside of the garages filled with wall to wall clutter. Most of the clutter in those garages hasn’t been touched or looked at in years, yet it remains. You can bet if the garage looks like that there must be areas inside that are overflowing with clutter too. If this describes your home you may have hit a clutter roadblock. While it may seem impossible, you can overcome even the biggest piles of clutter. Here are 3 easy ways overcome your biggest decluttering roadblocks.
Problem #1: You Feel Completely Overwhelmed and Don’t Know Where to Begin
If you look around your home at all the clutter surrounding you, you might feel completely overwhelmed. Believe it or not this is a normal feeling even for people who are organized. It often just takes less stuff to overwhelm those of us who are organized. Whether or not it is a pile on a counter or a garage filled with items, clutter can truly be emotionally overwhelming. This is especially true if you don’t know how to even begin to get the area organized. The more stuff that you have and the bigger the space the more overwhelm you might feel.
Solution #1: Break it down into small steps
If you feel overwhelmed by the task of clearing all the clutter, break it down to make it easier. Start yourself off by simply clearing away one pile, emptying one small box, one small bag or even clearing one item. This may seem super slow, but every item you clear away will give you motivation to continue and do more. Even if it takes weeks, you will begin to see the progress that you are making as you clear away small piles of clutter.
Problem #2: You have Decision Fatigue
The phrase decision fatigue may sound like it is made up or a fake term. In this day and age of technological devices, decision fatigue is real. If you don’t believe me, then do an internet search for that term. One of the first items that will come up is that researchers found that we make over 35,000 decisions a day. If only I had a dollar for every one of those! Seriously, think about it, think about all the decisions you have a make on a daily basis. Think about all the decisions you have to make just from opening email. Keep or delete? Read or don’t read? Click on that link or don’t click on it? No wonder our brains get tired of making decisions. No wonder the thought of dealing with the stuff in our homes and making final decisions about it is exhausting. So how do you fight decision fatigue when you are decluttering?
Solution #2: Take a Break
One of the best ways to fight decision fatigue when you are decluttering is to take a break from the process. Even if it is only 5 minutes, go for a walk, listen to music, or just sit silently in a quiet space in your home. I don’t recommend picking up your phone and scanning through it, because that will lead to more decision fatigue as soon as you open social media or your email. Once your head is clear go back to decluttering. If you get stuck on a particular item, set it aside and continue on with stuff that does not require difficult decisions. Start with easy items that allow you to make a quick decision.
If you struggle with decision fatigue on a daily basis, I recommend that you listen to the podcast The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman. It is a wonderful and short podcast that frequently deals with the problem of decision fatigue. Ms. Freeman has a wonderfully soothing voice and is a word artist the way she lyrically tells her stories and gives advice. She gives you great thoughts to ponder and helps you learn how to give yourself grace. I always feel refreshed after listening to this podcast. I should note her podcasts often include a daily prayer, spiritual quote or Bible verse. If you are not very religious, I would still give her podcast a listen anyway. You will be glad you did.
Problem #3: You Struggle With Guilt When Decluttering
When you begin to declutter your home you will find that there are pieces of clutter that are difficult to part with because of guilt. You may encounter emotional guilt, financial guilt or both. Emotional guilt is more difficult to get past than financial guilt. You may feel emotional guilt because the item is part of your past that you are struggling to let go of. Another reason you may feel emotional guilt is because the item came from a family member and you feel bad getting rid of it. You feel financial guilt when you know you spent money on an item, but you didn’t get your money’s worth out of it. It is perfectly normal to feel any or all of these types of guilt.
Solution #3: Let it Go
I know it is not as simple as they say in the song from the movie “Frozen”, but ultimately at the end of the day, it’s time to let the clutter go. If your stuff is causing you to feel overwhelmed and fatigued you have too much stuff. That doesn’t mean that you have to let go of every item that has sentimental value, but it does mean that you have curate a collection of the items that mean the most. After that, let go of the rest.
If you are feeling guilty about decluttering an item that someone else gave you. Remember if they passed it on to you, they ultimately didn’t want it either. Once it is in your home, it is belongs to you. You have the final say on what to do with it. Now, if it is a family heirloom, you may want to consult with family before you discard it. If the item is just a random item then feel free to make the final decision on it.
While financial guilt is not as bad as emotional guilt over an item. Financial guilt can cause you to struggle with making the decision to let an item go. The more you spent on the item and the number of times you used it may factor in. It’s best to accept that the money is gone and that unless the item is extremely unique or one of a kind you can always replace it should you need to.
When it comes to letting go of items that you feel financially or emotionally tied to, I like the method Marie Kondo uses. She believes in thanking an item for it’s service before you put it in the discard pile. Remember that if an item is useful and you donate it, it can still benefit someone else in the future. When a piece of clutter is taking up space in your home. It is no longer blessing you, it is overwhelming you and stressing you out.
Decluttering is not an easy process. The more stuff you own the more difficult the process can be. Once you identify your decluttering roadblocks you can start to work around them and make progress. Even if you only do a little bit at a time, eventually you will get your time and your space back. You will clear your home and your mind at the same time. That will be worth far more than the cost the clutter is causing you now.