Time, physical strength, emotional energy… there are a lot of factors that go into decluttering our homes. While I’ve covered some organizing “don’ts” before (including my post on harmful organizing solutions), the batch of don’ts in this post is focused on decluttering.
If you’re planning to clear out some of your clutter some time soon, this list is a must-read! By avoiding these time-wasting and energy-draining decluttering don’ts, you’ll have your home in tip-top shape in no time at all.
7 Decluttering Don’ts That Will Save You Time And Energy
1. Don’t Try To Do It All In One Day
Be honest with yourself—do you really have the mental and physical stamina to spend all day organizing, or the emotional fortitude to sort through all of your stuff in a single sweep? For most of us, the answer is likely an emphatic “No.” (If you said “Yes,” then color me impressed!)
If you try to spend an entire day organizing, you’ll likely end up feeling frustrated and burnt out by lunchtime. Instead, spread your decluttering tasks out over several days by dedicating an hour or two to each section of your house.
2. Don’t Hold A Yard Sale
Traditional yard sales are time-consuming, frustrating and not nearly as lucrative as they used to be. If you’re more interested in getting rid of stuff than you are in making the most possible money, skip the part where you spend all day outside watching your belongings not sell.
Instead, list your big-ticket items for sale on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or your local equivalent, then donate the rest.
3. Don’t Start Without A Goal In Mind
If you don’t know why you’re decluttering, you’re going to find it a lot harder to get rid of the things that are taking up space. Ask yourself why you want to get more organized. Do you want to spend less time cleaning, or do you need more space?
Revisit your motivations throughout the decluttering process, especially in moments of frustration or uncertainty. Reminding yourself why you’re going to all this effort will help you refocus and make better decisions.
4. Don’t Take Detours Down Memory Lane
Sifting through boxes of old photos can be really enjoyable — it’s why we keep them around, after all! But an unplanned trip down memory lane is ultimately a waste of your precious decluttering time.
If you feel tempted to start flipping through photos or memorabilia, remind yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and set them aside. You can always find a more appropriate time to look through them and reminisce.
5. Don’t Declutter Just Once
Decluttering is just like any other skill — the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. When you begin your decluttering efforts, do it with the mindset that this is your first sweep.
Then when you’re in need of another decluttering session down the road, you can think back to the stuff you went back and forth about the first time and have a better idea of how often you really use them. Keeping clutter at bay is an ongoing project, so you’ll benefit from thinking of it like one.
6. Don’t Aim For Perfection
Realistically, there’s next to no chance the picture-perfect closets and pantries you see on Pinterest are actually that clean, pretty, and organized all the time. The goal of organizing is to make your home more functional and comfortable, rather than getting it featured in Southern Housekeeping magazine.
Keep your expectations realistic. This applies both to your own organization efforts, as well as the ongoing maintenance it will require to keep things clean and tidy. Setting the bar too high for yourself never ends well.
7. Don’t Let Guilt Be Your Guide
A lot of us struggle with guilt when it comes to getting rid of things that cost us or someone else a lot of money, or that was given to us as a gift. If you find yourself struggling with this sort of guilt while decluttering, try to focus on the practical value of the item, rather than its emotional or monetary value.
If the item is mainly just taking up space, give yourself permission to let go of it — and any feelings of guilt along with it.
What other “decluttering don’ts” would you add to this list?