How To Make Decisions During The Decluttering Process

One of the hardest parts of decluttering your life is the decision-making involved in the process. This article will show you why it is challenging to make decisions during the decluttering process and how to move beyond this and learn how to make decisions.

Improving decision-making skills is a valuable asset in both decluttering and life in general. 

Making an informed decision can be challenging for many people, and it’s a common experience to struggle with making choices at various points in life. I run into this frustration and it makes me nutty! Making a major decision can be scary because important decisions can have important consequences.

It is extremely frustrating when my goal is to complete a task and I get hung up on making a decision. I decided to be a faster decision-maker and have been studying and practicing this for a while. 

Several factors contribute to the difficulty individuals may face when making decisions.


Some decisions are inherently complex, involving lots of facts, possible solutions, trade-offs, and question marks. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with tough choices and often the next step is procrastination or kicking the can down the road.

Risk Aversion

Your level of risk-taking is commensurate with your decision-making skills. Imagine if you had all the money in the world or Jeff Bezos’s kind of money, deciding money related issues would be easy. If you make the wrong choice you can simply submit another payment for the other one.

When decluttering people tend to hold on to things because they spent money and need the item in the future. It seems illogical to me that if I have not used something in 10 years I probably won’t need it in the future. Others see this differently.

People are still hesitant to take risks, even when the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Ah! The devil we know is often preferable.


outline of 2 heads talking with talk bubbles between the 2 faces

Uncertainty about the future or the outcomes of different choices is another challenge when decision-making.

How many times have you heard people say, ‘I am going to wait until after the election’? When there’s no clear answer or predictable outcome, we can struggle to make a confident decision.

Emotional Factors When Decluttering

Emotions can play a significant role in decision-making and often cloud judgment or influence choices based on feelings rather than rational analysis. Strong emotions such as fear, anxiety, or attachment to certain outcomes can make it difficult to make objective decisions.

Decluttering sentimental things is the biggest challenge most folks face when making decisions during the decluttering process.


women at desk with laptop eye glasses in one hand rubbing her face with her other hand gesturing fatigue

Analysis paralysis, or overthinking a decision, can hinder the decision-making process. Spending too much time weighing options, considering potential outcomes, or seeking additional information can lead to more confusion and procrastination.

I can get knocked down with analysis paralysis. Because I am aware of this now I am on the lookout for it. I limit how much information I look at because it is too easy to fall down a rabbit hole and when I climb out I am no closer to a decision.

Going out for a quick walk as a way to break a cycle of TMI – too much information, is my tried and true solution.

I have made good decisions when limiting the amount of information I have used to research. The key is to know where the valuable information you need is and I am good at finding this.

Decision Fatigue

Making multiple decisions over a short period can zap your mental energy thus impair decision-making abilities. Sometimes when I am tired and frustrated I just make a fast decision to be down with it.

Decluttering in small and quick increments is always a winner! Set a timer for 10 minutes and zoom into one small area like a kitchen utensil drawer.

When I am contemplating a big decision I look at the facts, weigh the options, and then let it go until I feel comfortable I am making the best choice I can at this time with the information available to me. This works well for me when the decision does not have to be made quickly.

If you struggle when making decisions, it’s important to recognize that decision-making is a skill that you can develop and improve with practice.

By using strategies like setting clear objectives, gathering necessary information, considering alternatives, and managing emotions, you will get better at decision-making. You will learn to navigate choices more effectively. 

Decide if you need help from trusted advisors or if you are confident enough to know what information needs to be gathered.


a time piece witht he word procrastination on the face of clock

One thing is for sure- if you procrastinate the issue is not going to go away. It is my experience that stalling making a decision is usually costly. I find this to be true a lot of the time when finances are involved. It is best to just bite the bullet and pull the trigger after you have studied the choices.

Do any of the descriptions sound familiar to you?

Here are some strategies to help you become a better decision-maker and make the decision-making processes more manageable for you.

Gather Information

Part of the decision-making process is to make sure you have all the relevant information before making a decision. One option is to consider multiple sources and perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

This may confuse you even more though. Generally, when we ask for opinions and advice from others we are seeking confirmation of our own opinion.

Clarify Your Objectives

If you are embarrassed to have friends in your home because you are living in a cluttered environment your goal should be to declutter a lot of items from your home so you will be able to make an inviting and comfortable home you are proud to invite people to.

The first step is to get rid of as much stuff as possible. Get rid of all the duplicates, unwanted, broken, and unnecessary objects you have.

There are no other options that will get you to your goal. You can’t use the illusion of organizing stuff to solve the whole problem. This is a mistake I see often. Don’t get me wrong there is a time for organizing and this time follows getting rid of stuff.

Anything less is shuffling clutter around.

The decision you have to make is simple, in theory, get rid of stuff so you are comfortable inviting friends into your home, or keep the stuff and don’t invite others into your home.

Evaluate Risks and Benefits

a board balanced on a round wood ball with a big re heart on one end and coins on the other. Like a see saw.

I can’t tell you how many times I could have made better decisions had I known the right questions to ask.

It is tricky because if you knew the subject well enough to know the right questions to ask you could probably make a quicker decision. Because I don’t know a subject I have to research it and while I am researching I have to be focused because if I am paying attention likely questions will pop up.

These questions inform where I will look for more information. Gathering information isn’t as straightforward today due to a lot of misinformation and disinformation.

By gathering information I can assess the potential risks and benefits associated with each option and if there are possible alternatives.
Consider the potential consequences of your decision and weigh them against the potential rewards.

Consider Alternatives

Explore different options and alternatives before making a decision. Brainstorming and considering various possibilities can lead to more creative and effective solutions. Sometimes there just are no good choices in which case it is imperative to accept this fact.

Trust Your Intuition When Decluttering

While it’s important to gather information and analyze options, don’t ignore your intuition. I have learned to listen to and trust my gut instincts. My past experiences show me the times I got hurt when I did not listen to my gut.

It takes practice to act confidently when your inner voice is informing you. Just look at your history for evidence.

Be Honest

Learning to be rigorously honest with yourself will help you a lot in your decision-making. If you have a closet full of clothing that hasn’t fit you since high school do you think the day will come you will wear these clothes again?

Seek Input from Others

2  ladies having a convo weighing the pros and cons

If you know you have certain biases it may be worthwhile to seek input and advice from others, especially those with experts in the field you need help with. Talking with others and professionals can provide valuable insights and perspectives that you may not have considered.

Manage Emotions

Be aware of how your emotions may influence your decision-making process. Take a step back and consider the situation objectively, even if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. 

An example of this may be when a loved one dies and you are faced with tough decisions it is recommended if possible to delay this decision-making process for a year. Your emotional responses today will likely be different over time.

Learn from Mistakes

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as they can provide valuable learning opportunities. Reflect on past experiences, identify areas for improvement, and use them to inform future decision-making.

Ask yourself the simple question ‘What is the worst thing that will happen if I toss these chipped mugs and broken utensils’.

Practice Decision-Making

Like any skill, decision-making improves with practice. Take every opportunity to make decisions, both big and small, and learn from the outcomes.

Analysis Paralysis

What often works against me is having too much information because this leads to analysis paralysis. This frustrates me no end because I have spent time researching, may feel more confused, and am no closer to making a final decision.

I do much better with fewer options. This is exactly why I prefer to shop in smaller stores or a website with really good filters because the easiest way for me to make quick decisions is to have fewer options. I seldom have regrets operating in this manner.

dark green background, white outline of head and different arrows offering all sorts of choices

Often the best thing for me is to aim for a quick decision and make the best possible choice because I know I tend to overthink everything. Sometimes I make the wrong choice and the best way for me to get beyond this is to let it go.

I reinforced the idea I made the best decision I could at the time with the information I had. Beating myself up is the wrong thing to do. Live and learn.

Consider Long-Term Consequences

Look beyond immediate outcomes and consider the long-term implications of your decisions. Think about how your choices will impact future goals and objectives.

Using the example we used earlier about wanting to have a comfortable clutter-free home to entertain guests consider how much better you will feel than the alternative of being cluttered and alone.

Decision Making Tree

A decision tree is a more targeted type of pros and cons list. While searching for risk assessing tools I stumbled across a less involved example of a flow chart or decision tree from Hubspot.

a decision tree used in the decsion making process with several tiers of choices.
Top tier is alternatives, uncertainty and high risk consequences
next tier interpersonal issues and complexity

Stay Flexible

Recognize that circumstances may change, and be willing to adapt your decisions accordingly. Stay open to new information and be prepared to adjust your course if necessary.

By incorporating these strategies into your decision-making process, you can become a more confident and effective decision-maker in all aspects of your life.

Coin flipping is an often used strategy too, because if you agree with the coin toss outcome the decision is made. If you disagree you are often ready to agree with the other choice and make a timely decision this way.

I know someone who says her best option is to toss a coin.

hand on blue background holding a coin

As decision makers it’s helpful to realize sometimes with all the information you have making good decisions is not always guaranteed. 

Here’s how the coin toss strategy works:

Assign Choices

Start by assigning each option to one side of the coin. For example, heads could represent Option A, and tails could represent Option B.

Flip the Coin

Flip the coin and observe the outcome. Let chance determine which option the coin lands on.

Assess Reaction

After seeing the result of the coin flip, pay attention to your immediate reaction. Do you feel a sense of relief or disappointment? This initial reaction can provide valuable insight into your true preferences.

Reflect on Feelings

If you find yourself disagreeing with the outcome of the coin flip, take a moment to reflect on why you feel that way. Are there underlying reasons or preferences that are influencing your decision?

2 feet on grey bricks with arrows pointing in different directions

Make the Decision

My most effective decision-making strategy for everyday decision-making is to go for a quick decision.

I just ran into this with a contractor. He gave me 3 price points for an item. He started telling me all the comparisons of the 3 things. I don’t know enough about this so I asked him, whom I trust, if he would recommend the middle choice. He said definitely and my decision was made.

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. If you find that you’re hesitant to accept the outcome of the coin flip, it might mean that you have a strong preference for the other option. In this case, go with your gut feeling and choose accordingly.

Coin Tossing

The coin flip strategy can be particularly useful when you are torn between two decent options or when you are feeling indecisive. Introducing an element of randomness can help break decision-making paralysis and prompt you to make a choice.

Keep in mind the tossing a coin strategy is not suitable for all decisions, especially those that require careful consideration or have significant consequences. I would not flip a coin for an important medical or financial decision.

Flipping a coin is best used as a tool to aid decision-making rather than a sole determinant.

white background, young lady, white sleeveless shirt, arms extended in a happy pose with sunlight behind her.

My decision making process starts at the point I consider bringing anthing into my home. I am drawn to living minimally and therefore have no desire to own a lot of  tchotchkes. I never have because I learned life is easier with less stuff.

One thing is for sure, when my decision is made I feel lighter and brighter, and you will too!

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.

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