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8 of the Most Common Decluttering Challenges and How to Overcome Them


Decluttered and organized closet

Decluttering can be an overwhelming and daunting task, especially if you have a lot of possessions that you need to go through. It is not uncommon to feel stuck or unsure of how to start or proceed with the process. In today’s post, we thought it would be helpful to explore some of the most common decluttering challenges and provide tips on how to overcome them so you can achieve a clutter-free home.


Here are 8 of the most common decluttering challenges and how you can avoid them when starting your journey


Challenge #1: Overwhelm


One of the most common decluttering challenges is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that needs to be organized and sorted. It is tough to know where to start, and even harder to maintain momentum when there seems to be so much to do.


The best way to overcome this challenge is to break the task down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Instead of trying to declutter your entire house in one weekend, start with one room, or even one area of a room. This approach can help you make steady progress and feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.


It is also important to be realistic about the time you have available for decluttering. If you only have a few hours a week to dedicate to the task, that's okay! Set small goals for each session, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you do not get everything done right away. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to decluttering.


Challenge #2: Attachment to possessions


Another common decluttering challenge is feeling attached to your possessions. Whether it is a sentimental attachment or a fear of regretting your decision to get rid of something, letting go can be tough.


One way to overcome this challenge is to approach decluttering with a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. Try not to focus so much on what you are getting rid of. Focus on what you are keeping and the benefits of a clutter-free space. This shift in perspective can help you feel more positive and motivated about the process. It will also help you feel more accomplished in letting go of things that no longer serve a function or purpose in your life.


You can also try setting a rule for yourself, such as the "one-year rule." If you have not used or worn something in the past year, it is time to let it go. This can help you make more objective decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. But be careful that those items do not continue to sit in your home as that defeats the purpose of decluttering.


Challenge #3: Lack of organizational systems


Without a clear organizational system in place, it is challenging to keep things tidy and clutter-free. This can lead to a cycle of decluttering followed by more clutter, making it seem like you are not making progress at all.


To overcome this challenge, it is important to develop an organizational system that works for you. This might involve investing in storage solutions, such as shelves or bins, or creating a designated space for everything in your home. For example, you might designate a specific drawer for all of your office supplies or a particular shelf for your book collection.


Having an organizational system in place can make it easier to maintain a clutter-free space over time. You will know exactly where everything goes, which can help you avoid the temptation to pile things up in random spots around your home.


Challenge #4: Difficulty making decisions


Making decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of can be one of the hardest parts of decluttering. It is easy to get bogged down in the details and start second-guessing yourself.


You can overcome this challenge by approaching decluttering with a clear set of criteria. Start by creating a set of questions to ask yourself for each item in your home. Some good questions to ask yourself are:


  • Did I use or wear this item in the past year?

  • Is it in good working condition?

  • Is it something that brings me joy?


If an item does not meet these criteria, it is time to let it go. Remember that letting go of things does not mean you are letting go of memories or experiences. You can hold on to the memories and let go of the physical items that are taking up space in your home. More on that in the next challenge.


Challenge #5: Emotional attachment to clutter


For some people, clutter can become a source of comfort or security, and letting go of it can feel like a loss. This emotional attachment to clutter can make decluttering a challenging and even painful process.


To overcome this challenge, it is important to recognize the emotional attachment you have to your possessions and acknowledge the feelings that come up when you think about getting rid of them. Try to honor the memories or emotions associated with the items without holding onto the physical objects. For example, you might take a photo of an item before letting it go and then create a memory book or scrapbook of items with sentimental value.


It can also be helpful to remind yourself of the benefits of a clutter-free home, such as reduced stress and improved focus. By focusing on the positive aspects of decluttering, you can motivate yourself to continue with the process.


Challenge #6: Time constraints


Decluttering can be a time-consuming process, and many people struggle to find the time to dedicate to the task. Between work, family, and other commitments, it is hard to make decluttering a priority.


The best way to overcome this challenge is to find small pockets of time throughout your day or week to work on decluttering. Even if all you spend is 15 minutes tidying before bed, you will be amazed by the short-term results.


Work through small areas of the home and do one room at a time. If you are able, dedicate an hour or two on the weekends to declutter a specific space. By breaking the task down into smaller, more manageable chunks, you can make steady progress over time. Another way to overcome time constraints is to plan a decluttering weekend with the family.


Pick a weekend and make sure nothing else is scheduled. Divide and conquer, having each member of the family work on a room or area. This will expedite the process and can make for a great activity to do together. At the end of the session, have everyone explain why they are getting rid of certain things as an added bonus for accountability.


Challenge #7: Lack of motivation


Decluttering can be a tedious and laborious task, and it is not uncommon to lack motivation or feel like giving up halfway through. It is tough to stay focused and motivated when the end goal seems so far away. This is especially true if you have never decluttered before and you feel surrounded by stuff.


To overcome this challenge, try to make decluttering more enjoyable or rewarding. You might listen to music or a podcast while you work, or treat yourself to a small reward after each decluttering session. You can also enlist the help of a friend or family member to make the process more fun and social.


Constantly remind yourself of the benefits of a clutter-free space and the progress you have made so far. By focusing on the positive aspects of decluttering, you can motivate yourself to continue with the process.


Challenge #8: Lack of knowledge


Some people may not know where to start or how to properly declutter and organize their spaces, making the task more challenging. Without a clear plan or strategy, it can be tough to make progress and achieve a clutter-free home.


Before you embark on your journey, do some research and educate yourself on the best decluttering and organization strategies. There are plenty of books, articles, and online resources available that can provide helpful tips and advice.


You might also consider hiring a professional organizer to help you develop a personalized plan for your space. Here at Imagine It Done, we offer virtual and in-person consultations and help you create the best strategy for your home.


By recognizing and addressing these common decluttering challenges, you can overcome them and achieve a clutter-free space in no time. Remember to be patient with yourself, and focus on the positive benefits of decluttering as you work towards your goal.


And if you are interested in hiring a professional organizer, be sure to read our “Client Tells All” series to get a feel for how we work and why we believe in the power of organization, and the transformative effects it creates in our lives.


But first, let us know in the comments: Which one of these decluttering challenges do you face the most?


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