Learn To Say No! How To Declutter Your Home and Life

red sign with big white color NO.

Learning to say “no” plays a significant role in decluttering not just your physical space but also your mind. Learning to say “no” is a great way to declutter your life and focus on the truly important things like family, self-growth, and reflection can be empowering and transformative. 

I read a novel years ago by Elizabeth Berg and the opening of her story has stayed with me.. A scene in the book described the first time she went food shopping after her children were gone and her divorce from her husband. The author said she walked into the grocery market and just stood there looking around because she had no idea what foods she wanted for herself. 

You see she had always bought groceries based on the likes and dislikes of her family. She had no idea what she liked. This made me feel sad.

Learn to say no and make the time to learn your likes and dislikes.

Learn to Say No

You don’t need to provide lengthy explanations or excuses when saying “no.” The best way is a simple and polite “no”. Making lame excuses is silly because we all know the excuse is just that. Use “No” as a Complete Sentence

Practice Saying No

Saying “no” can be challenging at first, especially if you’re used to saying “yes” to everything. A good first step is to practice in low-stakes situations and gradually work your way up to more significant commitments. It’s okay to prioritize your well-being and goals.

Say No to Distraction

Did you know that each time you are distracted it takes you 23 minutes to refocus your attention to the task you were working on?

When I am at work and a call comes in that I have been waiting for, I make a clear and concise note of where to pick up what I am working on before I answer my call. If I don’t do this it can be a big waste of time trying to find where I left off.

Another thing I do when I have been interrupted is I physically get up and do something like refill my water or pet my pups, something that only takes a couple of minutes and offers a clear delineation between the interruption and my back to work mode.

If it has been a day of many interruptions and I feel myself getting frustrated, I grab the dogs and go for a quick brisk walk to reset my mind. When I get back to work I make a deal with myself to just start where I left off and work for 5 minutes. If I want to stop at 5 minutes it is ok.

I never by the way stop at the 5-minute mark. I always continue to finish the task – or until the next disruption!

Allowing distractions is a big robber of time. If you are distracted 3 times a day you are losing about an hour. I can’t afford to lose an hour a day!

Identify Your Priorities

Is going to the movies with your friend a priority to you? If it is go and have a wonderful time! If not though, if the whole time you are sitting in the theatre thinking of all the other things you would rather be doing learn from this experience and say ‘no’ the next the invitation is extended to you.

Take some time to reflect on your values and what truly matters to you. Determine your top priorities, such as spending time with family, pursuing personal growth, or engaging in activities that bring you joy, fulfillment and reward.

red and white graphic text with main word Goal and other like minded words


Journaling is a great tool to use to find out your likes and dislikes! Writing has been a life saver for me. I am not talking about writing ‘official’ writing like researching and writing articles. I am referring to stream of consciousness writing or brain dumping writing.

The magic of free form writing is your ticket to excavating all the information buried deep inside of you.

Set Clear Goals

Are you inclined to let others tell you your likes and dislikes and what you should and should not do? If this sounds familiar as it does to many women this would be a good time to learn what you want. 

Once you’ve identified your priorities, set clear and specific goals related to them. Having well-defined goals will help you stay focused and make it easier to say “no” to commitments that don’t align with these priorities.

Practice Self-Awareness

Be aware of your limitations and how much time and energy you have available. Recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stretched too thin, and have less time to spend on other’s desires. Acknowledge that it’s okay to say “no” when you need to take care of yourself.

Establish Boundaries

Learn to set boundaries with others. Communicate your limits respectfully but firmly. Be honest about your commitments and let people know when you can’t take on additional tasks or obligations.

I once heard someone say he puts in his calendar all the events he has declined. This way when the day of the event arrives, that he will not be attending, he celebrates the fact he declined the invitation. I love this!

Be Respectful and Kind

Saying “no” doesn’t mean you have to be rude or dismissive. Be respectful and kind in your response, showing understanding for others’ needs while honoring your own. This will cause less stress all around.

Delegate or Decline Non-Priority Tasks

If due to your present  commitments and responsibilities you find you simply do not have enough time delegate. Practice delegating tasks that others can handle or decline non-priority tasks that don’t work for you.

Decision Making

When you say “no” to unnecessary commitments or distractions decision making becomes more straightforward and less overwhelming. This clarity extends to your daily routines and habits, making it easier to keep your home and mind organized.

Learning to master your decision making skills is a game changer!

Learn to Let Go

We all are given the same 24 hours in any given day. Know that it’s okay to let go of certain commitments that no longer serve you or align with your priorities. It may be challenging, but saying no to these obligations can free up valuable time and energy needed to do the really important stuff.

Schedule “Me Time”

Make self-care and self-reflection a priority by scheduling dedicated “me time” in your calendar. Women I know are very hesitant to schedule their own needs ahead of others. By doing so you may just find you are better equipped to deal with the myriad stuff you deal with day in and out.

An effective way is to schedule this time in your calendar and treat this time as sacred and non-negotiable, just like any other important commitment.

Be Patient with Yourself

Learning to say “no” to contribute to your peace of mind is a process that takes time. New habits do not come to fruition overnight, Be patient with yourself as you develop this skill. Celebrate your progress and remember that it’s okay to stumble along the way. Toxic people in your life will sabotage you every chance they get! It is your job on a daily basis to not allow this. 

Say what you mean, mean what you say and don’t be mean when you say it is some of the best advice I ever got.

Act as if

Saying ‘no’ can be really hard until you build confidence. This is where ‘act as if’ comes in handy. This is kind of like ‘fake it til you make it’. You can’t gain confidence until you assert yourself in situations that are uncomfortable.

It is difficult to assert yourself until you gain confidence. It is a tough thing and acting your way into confidence is a proven way to get there. 

You will strike a balance that aligns with your values and overall well-being with practice

Reducing Material Possessions

When decluttering your home, you might come across items that you no longer need or use. Why do we save old magazines? How about sentimental items that are a noose around your neck?

Instead of holding onto old relics out of guilt or obligation, saying “no” to unnecessary possessions allows you to let go and create a more organized and minimalist living space.

I love my simple life! My clutter-free lifestyle offers me fewer distractions which means I am far more productive in less time. Having less stuff is the easiest way I know to achieve a simple life.

Avoiding Impulse Purchases

By saying “no” to impulse purchases, you prevent clutter from entering your home in the first place. Be intentional about your shopping habits and only bring in items that serve a purpose or truly bring you joy.  

If you find yourself bobbing about in a sea of too much stuff and having a tough time, reducing the number of things you bring into your home is a good idea.

Learn to Say No Thank You

Learn to say “no” to gifts or items offered by others that don’t align with your values or needs. Politely decline items you don’t want or have space for, helping you maintain a clutter-free environment. This way you will eliminate the torture of having to get rid of a lot of things you never even wanted.

Say No to Negativity

Saying “no” to stressful situations or toxic relationships is essential for mental well-being. By setting boundaries with people and circumstances that drain your energy, you create space for positive thoughts and a clearer mind.

Letting Go of Mental Clutter

Saying “no” to areas of your life including negative and self deprecating thoughts, self-doubt, and excessive worry helps declutter your mind. Embrace mindfulness practices that allow you to acknowledge thoughts without dwelling on them.

My go to tool to unclench my teeth etc is to breathe deep cleansing breaths. I breathe in for 8 counts and out for 8 more counts. It doesn’t take a long time for me to start settling down once I add a little bit of focus on destressing. 

Enhancing Focus and Productivity

Decluttering your home and mind through saying “no” enables better focus on tasks and goals. With reduced distractions, you can concentrate on meaningful activities, whether it’s spending quality time with loved ones or pursuing creative endeavors.

Cultivating Gratitude

By saying “no” to constant desire for more, you can focus on appreciating what you already have. Gratitude helps shift the mindset away from accumulation and encourages contentment with a clutter-free and simpler lifestyle.

Creating Space for Growth

Letting go of physical and mental clutter creates space for personal growth and self-improvement. Saying “no” to stagnation and embracing change fosters a sense of renewal and possibility.

The key to life for me is to love all that I have and not want for more stuff! I do not measure success by monetary value. Enjoying peace, freedom and contentment is important to me. Doing the things I love to earn a living, having a handful of awesome friends I consider family in addition to my family makes me one happy lady. Throw my beautiful puppies in the mix and I am one rich lady!

pic of author

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutterer 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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