Decluttering your home can be daunting, especially if you have a busy schedule or are emotionally attached to your possessions. It’s not uncommon to come up with excuses that keep you from starting your decluttering journey. But these excuses can prevent you from living a clutter-free life, thus keeping you frustrated and distracted.

As a professional, I’ve heard every excuse in the book and so nothing you say will shock me. That’s why I thought it’d be a good idea to share the five most common decluttering excuses I hear and how you can overcome them so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Excuse #1: “I might need it someday.”

Many people hold on to items they haven’t used in a long time because they fear they might need them in the future. This is a common excuse, but it’s also one of the easiest to overcome.

What’s the simplest solution? Ask yourself some tough questions.

Start by asking yourself whether you’ve used the item in the past six months. If the answer is no, ask yourself if you’re likely to use it in the next six months. If the answer is still no, then it’s time to let go of the item. 

Don’t hold on to something just because you might need it someday. If you really do need it in the future, you can always buy it again or borrow it from someone. The Minimalists like to use the 20/20 Rule, which means that if you can replace the item for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes, then it can be decluttered. 

Excuse #2: “I don’t have enough time.”

It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering your entire home. This is especially true if you work full-time and then have a family to take care of when you get home. You claim you have no time to declutter. This excuse is understandable, but you can overcome it with some simple strategies.

The solution? Break it down into smaller tasks.

Rather than trying to declutter your entire home in one day, break the task down into smaller chunks. Set aside 30 minutes each day to work on decluttering a specific area, such as a closet or a drawer. You’ll be surprised at how much progress you can make in just 30 minutes. 

Author and professional organizer, Shira Gill, created the #15minwin challenge to show people how much they can get done in a short amount of time. You set a timer for 15 minutes and declutter or tidy up one area of a room. 

Another strategy is to enlist the help of a friend or family member. Decluttering can be a fun and productive activity to do together, and it can also make the task feel less daunting. To get children or teens involved, gamify the act of decluttering. Whoever declutters the fastest gets an extra 15 minutes of screen time.

Excuse #3: “I paid good money for it.”

You might feel guilty about getting rid of something you spent a lot of money on, even if you no longer need or use it. This excuse, like the one before, is completely understandable. But it’s important to remember that you have already spent the money, and holding onto the item won’t bring that money back.

What’s the solution? Sell or donate the object.

If the item is in good condition, consider selling it. You can use online marketplaces like eBay or Craigslist to recoup some of your money. And there are countless apps at your disposal for selling just about anything. You can sell clothing on Poshmark, thredUp, or the RealReal. Books can be sold on PangoBooks and you also have Facebook Marketplace or Let It Go.

If you’re not comfortable selling the item, consider donating it to a charity or a thrift store. Someone else might be able to put the item to good use, and you’ll feel good about decluttering your space. Check local consignment shops or churches. They’re often looking for specific items, though they may take whatever you have. The Vietnam Veterans of America offers free donation pickups in many parts of the country so look into them as well. 

Excuse #4: “It has sentimental value.”

It’s common for people to have a hard time letting go of items that have sentimental value, such as gifts from loved ones or things that remind them of a particular time in their life. While it’s understandable to have an emotional attachment to certain objects, holding onto too many sentimental items can lead to clutter.

What’s the best solution? Keep the memories, not the items.

Rather than holding onto the item itself, try to find a way to preserve the memory. Take a photo of the object and create a scrapbook page about it. You can do this physically or create an album in your phone and label it “Sentimental Items.”

You can also consider passing the item along to someone else who will appreciate it, like a family member or a friend. Remember, the memories associated with the item will stay with you, even if it’s no longer physically present. 

Allow yourself time to relive the memory when holding the item. You may also want to consider keeping a notebook nearby so you can journal or note down feelings about that memory. This is another great way to preserve the memory but remove the clutter. Need a bit more help with this stage? Check out this blog post about how to declutter sentimental items.

Excuse #5: “I don’t know where to start.”

Decluttering can be overwhelming, and some people don’t know how to begin the process. They may feel paralyzed by the thought of making decisions about their belongings.

But the best solution to this excuse is simply this: start small and be intentional.

The key to overcoming this excuse is to start small. Choose one area of your home to focus on, such as a single drawer in your kitchen or a small closet like your linen closet. Set a goal for the area, such as getting rid of anything that hasn’t been used in the past six months. As you work through the space, be intentional about the items you keep. Only keep things that serve a purpose or bring you joy.

Starting small helps build your decluttering muscles. Marie Kondo gets you to start with easily replaced items like clothes so you can get used to the idea of decluttering. She, like any other professional, knows how difficult it is to let go of stuff. Then, as you make your way to more complicated things like sentimental objects, you’re in a better position to let them go.

Decluttering your home can be a challenging but rewarding process. By identifying and overcoming common decluttering excuses, you can create a clutter-free space that brings you peace and calm. 

Remember to be patient with yourself and take the process one step at a time. Whether you’re a busy person with limited time or someone who struggles with sentimental attachment to belongings, there are solutions that can help you overcome your decluttering excuses.

So, start by asking yourself some tough questions, breaking the task down into smaller chunks, selling or donating items, preserving memories, and starting small and being intentional. By following these tips and overcoming your decluttering excuses, you’ll be well on your way to creating a more organized and stress-free home.

And, as always, we’re here to help. We thrive on teaching our clients how to overcome common excuses and get their home to a state of tranquility and calm. If you’re ready to begin your decluttering journey, contact us today and let’s chat. 

Decluttering Tips for Busy People: Overcoming These 5 Common Decluttering Excuses

April 4, 2023

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