You’ve finally started to delcutter your home. You’re doing great, you found your groove, and all of a sudden – a single item stops you in your tracks. You, my friend, have hit one of the decluttering roadblocks. Whether it be a sentimental item or an item you spent way too much money on, it can feel easy to get stuck and want to completely stop decluttering.
But don’t give up! I have personally experienced these five decluttering roadblocks and I’ve overcome them. Sharing these tips with you today will hopefully get you un-stuck and back to decluttering in no time.
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5 Decluttering Roadblocks (+ how to get over them)
Feeling overwhelmed is easily the first decluttering roadblock we encounter. It can feel so overwhelming when you even think about decluttering. Thinking about the amount of stuff you have to go through or about how much time it will take to get it all done. But you’re thinking of a more simplified and clutter free life. That should get you pumped! … and maybe a little scared of the work that lies ahead.
Tips to overcome becoming overwhelmed:
- Just start. Start with the smallest part of your life – your car! Move on to other small areas like the junk drawer, under the kitchen sink, and your makeup bag. Once you start, you build up your decluttering strength and it will carry you through. For room by room guide, check out my Ultimate Decluttering Guide.
- Set goals. Set a goal over when you want to finish your decluttering project and how you want your decluttered life to look.
- Set a schedule. Schedule in your decluttering time. An hour a day or every other day is a good amount of time. Maybe you want to decluttering on the weekends only, that’s okay too. Just schedule it in and stick to it.
- Take before and after pictures. Taking pictures is the one thing that I wish I would have done when we started decluttering. But I was way too embarrassed to! So take some pictures. You don’t have to share them with anyone but yourself. And when you feel like you’ve gotten nowhere, take a look back at those photos and you’ll see the difference.
- Be realistic. You probably won’t declutter your entire home in a weekend (that’s kind of a recipe for hitting as many decluttering roadblocks as you possibly can).
Related reading >>> 9 Tips to Get Started Decluttering
Guilt can become a decluttering roadblock for a variety of reasons.
- Hard-earned money was spent
- It was a gift
- Sentimental in nature
- It was once really loved by you or someone you love
- Still perfectly good
Those are all really good reasons to keep an item… BUT has that item done it’s job? Is the item still serving you today?
I used the example of a wonderful, black evening dress on my blog last year. I loved that dress. It was picked out by my husband, worn to several weddings, and to many more formal events. But then I had a baby, lost weight, and my body just didn’t look the same. Yet, I held onto the dress for more than a year without wearing it again. All those points above? It ticked all those boxes when it came time for me to pass it on. So I took a picture of myself in the dress, thanked it for doing its job, and passed it along.
Tips to overcome delcuttering guilt:
- Using an item one last time before discarding it can be a helpful reminder of why you’re decluttering. Like my dress that didn’t fit right, you too might have items lurking in your wardrobe that don’t fit or ones that don’t look right no matter how hard you try. Try it on one last time as a reminder. Same goes for cookware, movies, books – try to use it one last time and you’ll be reminded of why you are discarding it.
- Say “thank you” to the item before you let go. This is straight from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Expressing gratitude towards the item that no longer suits you and your needs is a wonderful way to let go. I practice this method every time I let go of baby clothes. A quick “thank you for keeping my baby warm” keeps me from hanging on to those cute baby items I no longer need.
Sentimental items are a hard decluttering roadblock for me. I think they are for a lot of people, too. Most of my sentimental items have come from grandparents who have passed or from my parents. While I still have quite a few sentimental items in my home, I have also let a few go.
I held onto a large side table for years before I finally returned it to my parents house (who also found it in the way and eventually sold it to someone who appreciated it). It protruded into our living room just enough that it was in our way 90% of the time. I started to dislike the item. So I decided that it was time to let go. Having the memory of that table and how it was decorated in my grandparents’ house is more valuable to me than the table itself.
How to let go of sentimental items:
- Take pictures of the item. Before you let go of the item, take several really good pictures. Save them to your computer or a cloud storage app. Taking pictures of that sentimental item you’re letting go of can help you revisit memories tied to that item.
- Memories use little space. If you’re holding onto an item to remember a person by, you’re taking up valuable space in your home. The memory of the item and of the person attached to it will serve you better if that sentimental item is physically in the way of your daily life.
- Give the item to someone who will appreciate it. It is a lot easier to give a sentimental item to a friend or family member who will appreciate the item than it is to donate the item. If you’re getting rid of something sentimental, ask family and friends if they would like to have the item first. If no one takes it, then donate it.
- Don’t put a monetary value on the item. What is could be super valuable to you, may not be to a prospective buyer. When selling sentimental items, look up the market value (on eBay or just a quick Google search) and price it accordingly. But again, try giving the item to someone you know first.
But if you absolutely don’t want to get rid of a sentimental item…
I have lots quilts made by my grandmother who recently passed. She made them for me throughout my life. They’re so special to me that I cannot even fathom getting rid of any. But I also have lots of store bought blankets and comforters that were getting more use than these precious handmade quilts.
So instead of getting rid of the quilts (which won’t ever happen), I decided that it was time to put them to good use. We are now in the process of giving away our store bought blankets and using the quilts in our daily lives – not storing them under the bed and out of sight.
If you are in the situation too where you can’t fathom getting rid of a sentimental item, but it’s in a storage spot in your home, consider bringing it out and using it in your daily life. If it’s decorative in nature, find a special place to display it and get rid of some of the store bought decor in your home.
But It Would Be Wasteful…
If you look an item while you’re decluttering and think “It would be such a waste to get rid of this item!”, this decluttering roadblock you need to pay special attention to.
There are a few reasons we feel wasteful when decluttering certain items:
- Hard earned money was spent on the item
- The item is still perfectly good
- It’s practically brand new
But here’s the thing about feeling wasteful when decluttering – the useful life of an item is wasting away in your home if you aren’t using it.
Think of a brand new piece of clothing. You get it home, hang it up, and then never wear it. Months go by and it’s still on the hanger. It might gather dust, stretch a little due to being hung up, and maybe even get eaten by moths. THAT would be a waste of a good item.
Tips to overcome feeling wasteful:
- Sell the item instead of donating. Be realistic about the price you list the item at – you aren’t going to get back what you paid for it. But you’ll get some money back in your pocket.
- Give the item directly to someone who will actually use it. Whether you ask friends and family if they would like it or if you go through your Buy Nothing Group, giving the item to someone who you know will use it is very rewarding.
- Donate the item to a specific organization rather than a general donation center or thrift store. Organizations like women’s shelters, animal shelters, and other non-profits would love your items you feel wasteful getting rid of. Call around to different organizations to see if they could use your items and donate accordingly.
- If you still have the receipt and the tags are attached… try returning the item. If it is within a reasonable amount of time, some stores will let you return the item for store credit or exchange. Read store policy or call the store before attempting to return an item.
But I might use it… someday!
This decluttering roadblock is especially hard. We all see the potential in certain items to be useful one day. That ball of yarn – I might take up knitting! 20 screwdrivers – but they’re all different! The formal dress – but I can go fancy places!
But in reality, we won’t use that item within the next year. Or maybe ever.
Here are a few reasons this roadblock is tough:
- Your kids might use it, wear it, play with it, etc.
- The item might be back in fashion one day or you might have an occasion to wear it again
- You used the item a lot back in the day, but haven’t gotten around to using it again in some time
- It was once really, really useful
Tips to overcome the “but I might use it someday” roadblock:
- When was the last time you used this item? Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t used it within the last year, it’s time to let it go.
- Will you use it within the next year? Think of your snow boots, that beach umbrella, outdoor items, season decor, and other things that might be seasonal. Do you plan on using them in the next season? If you didn’t use them last year, you probably won’t use them this year.
- If your kids don’t play with it now, they won’t play with ever. When decluttering kids’ items, you might think they use it in the future. That might be true if you were gifted or purchased toys that weren’t quite age appropriate yet (we’re guilty of that). But if you are holding on to toys that are age appropriate and are always left in the toy bin unplayed with, then it’s time to let them go.
- Create a list of those “someday” items that you declutter. When you get rid of an item you were on the fence about, write it down and the date you got rid of it. If you do need to purchase that item again or if you feel like you need to purchase that same item, refer to your list. When did you get rid of it? If it is only used once or twice a year, could you borrow it instead of buying it?
We all have our personal struggles when decluttering our whole home. These are just five of the decluttering roadblocks I’ve encountered. What struggles have you had when decluttering?