Easy Solutions to Overcome The Obstacles To Decluttering

white walls, green floor plant on left side, simple desk and chair with clutter free surface and modern streamlined desk lamp

Decluttering is often emotional for a number of reasons. Many of us find ourselves surrounded by too much stuff and have the habit of not letting go of anything. All this clutter can have a negative impact on us. It can be extremely hard to focus, and also distracting to sit in a sea of clutter.

Volumes have been written about the psychology of cluttered spaces holding back our dreams. This is because sadly we form an emotional attachment to our stuff, especially sentimental items. Consider the following solutions before you set your decluttering goals. 

The biggest challenge to a clutter-free home is our emotional attachment to our possessions. The good news is there are steps to take before you begin your decluttering journey. This is a great way to set yourself up for a decluttering win!

ocean scape, blue sky, hand letting sand fall through.

We resist letting go of our possessions.

I more or less stick to buying and keeping only functional stuff I use often. Holding on to stuff for decades that we no longer use or find beautiful can negatively impact our mental health.

The decluttering challenge can be really hard work if we let it. If you have too much clutter learning why will remove much of the decluttering paralysis. This is what generally holds us back from achieving our goal of a decluttered home.

Around 10 years ago I challenged myself to get rid of all the things I would not take to a new home if I were moving. Because I got rid of so much stuff I felt a big burden lift, a burden that I never even knew I had. I felt lighter and freer.

lady on beautiful beach wearing a gauzy sundress flowing in the wind with her arms extended up toward the birds in a dance of feeling free.

Is it functional or beautiful?

I see no reason to keep stuff that has no practical purpose. I remember all that paper clutter we used to have around! That was so messy!

Today we scan any paper documents and file digitally for safe keeping. The documents are easy to find, safe from fire and natural disasters and can be shared quickly when needed.

Why do you keep all the stuff you have if it is not functional or so aesthetically pleasing you cannot part with it? Is it because you don’t know what you would fill these sparkling clean empty spaces with? Do we try to just not think of this because we get overwhelmed?

the words spelling there is always a payoff on green background

What is the payoff for keeping material possessions?

We need to figure out what our payoff is for keeping this stuff. There is always a payoff for everything we do, sometimes a good payoff and sometimes not so much. 

Some of us feel emotionally attached to our stuff. This clutter can hold us back and is an obstacle preventing us from moving forward. Comfort zones do not necessarily provide the comfort we seek. On the contrary comfort zones can be traps that keep us stagnant. 

If you have been debating with yourself to get your life decluttered and want to start today try the following exercise. 

the letter Q in a red bubble and the letter A in a blue bubble connected the the plus sign on yellow

Answer these questions for clarity

Pick up one thing in your home and ask yourself the following questions.

Is this item functional or beautiful?
How does this item serve you or do you serve it by caring for it and getting nothing in return?
Does this item fall in the category of sentimental items?

sentimental items shown in a jewel box

Describe what you like about this thing.
Do you keep objects for fear of offending another’s feelings?
Are other’s feelings more important than your feelings?
Are your concerns financial, did this item cost a lot of money?

Emotional attachment

If you are finding the process of decluttering to be distressing recognize how you feel and go easy on yourself. You are getting to the core of what has been holding you back in many instances, for many years. 

red heart symbol with self love spelled out in blocks

Be good to yourself, you are doing the very best you can. Do not beat yourself up! You are teaching yourself how to move beyond some often very uncomfortable things. Your resistance to learning these things is an obstacle that has prevented you from moving forward.

Find someone to talk to if this process is too much for you to deal with alone. A friend or therapist is often all the support you need to get unstuck and move forward. You deserve this freedom.

Focus on the positives

We can all find positives in our lives no matter how miserable we may feel. A great daily routine is to list some things you are grateful for.

Envision what you want and hold on tight to this image. Tell yourself you are moving forward and will no longer be a hostage to all the stuff in your head and the excess of physical objects surrounding you.

a text medly of positve terms in aqua blue and white with Big dream highlighted in green

Picture your stresses becoming less as you move beyond your obstacles. Feel the lightness that is coming when you and your space are organized. 

There are many benefits to decluttering. Keep all these benefits in mind as you declutter, If decluttering only one object a day is the pace you choose this is awesome! All you need to feel lighter and freer is consistency.

Do you need to keep your physical objects?

Clutter holds us back. Please read that again. Clutter holds us back. Back from what? How often have you said ” I want to do, go, or have x, y, and z” and made an excuse why you can’t? The physical and mental clutter keeps us locked in position. 

If you feel it is time to move forward start moving forward by decluttering. Clutter can be related to our well-being and we all deserve the best mental health we can achieve.

You have likely heard the phrase ‘when one door closes another will open’. This rings true in my life. Here are some suggestions to ease you through the process…

your journey starts here spelled out on a black board

Start here and start now

Start by answering the questions I presented to you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When you start the actual decluttering of physical objects the best way is to start with a small area, especially if you have a lot of stuff in a large space. The best way to start is with 3 trash bags, the heavy-duty black contractor’s bag. I label them each – trash, donate and sell. 

Here is a Resource Guide I put together to help you donate pretty much anything you have for free or very low cost. This applies to work out equipment, large furniture, and most things. things. This is a neat resource to hang onto!

Quick wins!

For a quick win the junk drawer most people have in their kitchens is a great start. 

Empty the contents and pick up each item one at a time. Throw out the things you don’t recognize, along with the scraps of string and old worn elastics that have been in the drawer since the beginning of time. Only return the items to the drawer that you regularly use. 

3 black trash bags labeled with red text - donate- sell- discard

Trash, donate or sell

Another easy win is to bring the 3 trash bags over to your linen closet or the space where your linens and towels live. The next step is to pick up each item, one item at a time, and decide if each item is trash, or good enough to donate, and items you may wish to easily sell. 

After you curate each item place directly into one of the assigned trash bags. At the end of this decluttering session, your space is clean and the stuff is ready for removal.

Take a picture of the memorable object(s) before you discard it, if this makes the process easier for you.

simple spiral bound photo album

You can also do the same with the piles of photos you have been collecting for years. Get creative and make a digital scrapbook or photo album to keep your memories in an organized space-saving manner. Or scan and save images digitally and you can easily share the pictures with your family and friends.

Express gratitude for the role this object or memory served you. You can then discard the physical objects with a grateful heart.

The psychology of decluttering 

The psychology of the decluttering process is about identifying the emotional attachments we have to the things that surround us daily. Being aware of our feelings, focusing on the positive benefits, and having a grateful heart will teach us how to create the spaces we are meant to have. 

a heart shape pendant with words I am grateful with a teeny red heart on the larger heart

I will bet your new clean fresh space prompts new positive feelings which may lead to who knows where. I have gone from being stuck to places I never even knew existed!

Your decluttering journey

Above all please remember decluttering is a process. If you are like many you have spent too much time beating on yourself for allowing the clutter to accumulate.

Do not waste your precious energy on looking back. Take your decluttering plan and your specific goals and go boldly into the different areas of your physical space and one item at a time fill your 3 bags.

peaceful image of large flat smooth stepping stones in blue water

Start today with your new decluttering plan, remember the main reasons you are decluttering your household items and that decluttering is a continuous process.

You did not acquire all your stuff overnight. Decluttering your life and removing the obstacles that have been holding you back will be well worth the time it takes and will likely open amazing new doors for you to walk though!

Take advantage of my new free SHIFT INTO ACTION! course to help you get started today on your decluttering journey!

author pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

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