5 Things To Do When You Get Stuck Decluttering

Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

1.  Don't give up just because you're low on motivation.

So you ran out of steam.  Lots of things are like that -- writing this blog can be like that.  Sometimes I write for hours and lose track of time.  Sometimes I'm tweaking three or four posts at a time for future publication.  Other times I'm stuck for ideas, or nothing I write seems valuable.

It would be easy in those circumstances to pay attention to thoughts like these:
  • What was I thinking?  I'll never be a writer.  (I'll never clear all of this clutter.)
  • Who do I think I am?  Why would anyone want to read what I write anyway?  (I've always lived with clutter, disorganization, and overwhelm, and I always will.)
  • Why do I bother?  I knew I wouldn't be very good at this.
Think of it like this.  If you had a discouraging week at work, would you decide to just quit?  If there was some tension in one of your closest relationships, or you were having trouble with one of your kids, would you just give up?

Of course you wouldn't, because those things are too important.  And removing all of the clutter that saps your time and energy and gets in the way of your best life is important too.

It's okay to feel unmotivated at times.  We all do.  Accept it when it comes, and let yourself rest before continuing.

2.  Celebrate your progress so far.

Don't downplay your success!  Focus on how good it feels to live with less stuff, whether it's as small as one less junk drawer and a cleared-out coat closet, or as big as your entire kitchen and the garage.  Really feel the lightness and lack of stress, and use it to encourage the next step of the process.

3.  Remind yourself why.

What got you started on this journey in the first place?  Maybe you were tired of spending so much time and money and energy cleaning, repairing, insuring, upgrading, arranging, and rearranging the things you own.  Or maybe you'd been feeling weighed down by your possessions for years, desperately longing for the freedom that comes with clearing out all the extras.  Maybe you felt you were chasing goals that no longer mattered to you, that you wouldn't choose if you could do it all over again, and you needed the space and clarity to figure out what you really wanted.

Whatever your why is, return to it.  Write about it in your journal, talk about it with a friend or family member, post about it on Instagram, or whatever will make it fresh in your mind.

4.  Pay attention to what you bring home.

While you take a break from decluttering, be sure to watch your consumption so old habits don't take you right back to square one.  Think before you purchase or take a freebie.  Be a vigilant doorkeeper, because staying clutter-free is as much about what comes in as about what goes out.

5.  Start again with baby steps.

When you're ready, don't let negative thoughts be in charge.  Believe that baby steps are enough.  Declutter one small area at a time, and enjoy every accomplishment along the way.  With bite-size tasks, you will eventually get where you want to be.  So set a timer, and start to work for just 15 minutes.  But don't be surprised if you feel a surge of energy and motivation to keep at it for longer!


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