We all want to declutter so why don’t we? At its core, decluttering is not hard. All you have to do is remove things. The physical act of picking something up and taking it out of a house is something a puppy can do. What is it about decluttering that makes it so tremendously difficult to actually do?
The need for decluttering is blocked by doubts and concerns. You can rationalize these excuses, you can truly believe them and you can defend them even if they don’t have much merit. The only way to start decluttering is to face our objections to it first. By looking at your objections you can see they are not brick walls but merely hurdles you need to leap over.
Here are three objections to decluttering and how to overcome them…
1) First Objection to Decluttering – “I have no time to declutter”
The time objection is the most common and can easily be justified. You are busy. You work, take care of the kids, look after the home. You try to be a good partner, friend, community member, world citizen and even attempt to sleep occasionally. Fitting in a decluttering venture seems like an absurd item to add onto your already overflowing to-do list.
Truth time: yes, you will have to make time to declutter. However, it probably won’t take as long as you think, you can fit it into your life in a way that suits you best, and you don’t have to do it to perfection.
I know the latest binge-watch sensation is more tempting. I know decluttering doesn’t sound enjoyable. I know that you are tired. But a one-off decluttering project will take far less time in the long run than constantly rummaging in your handbag, standing in front of your closet not finding a thing to wear and picking up toys from around the house to stuff back into the overfilled toy box.
2) Second Objection to Decluttering – “I spent money on it”
You spent money on that treadmill / waffle maker / designer skirt. Keeping items around because you believe they have monetary value seems valid but is actually deceptively flawed thinking.
Truth time: the money you paid for your things is gone. You may have spent a large chunk of your hard-earned money on something expensive. But there is no point thinking of items in terms of their monetary value now. If the only reason you are holding onto something is to prevent negative emotions from not using or wearing it from landing, then let it go and free up your mental space. Feel the feeling of guilt or loss and move on.
If it makes you feel better, arrange to sell it and recoup some of your costs, but don’t leave an item hanging around because you have fallen into the sunk cost fallacy—the tendency to continue to invest time, money and energy into a dud.
3) Third Objection to Decluttering – “I may use it someday”
Keeping things around because you may use them or you think you will regret it if you got rid of them is a popular reason to hold onto stuff. It can cover a broad range of items and because it is so pervasive it seems like a genuine reason. It can apply to duplicates or when you think you have to hold onto something just in case. And it is brought up when you think of your ‘someday’ self when you have the spare time to exercise on that rower / play the guitar / knit.
Truth time: ‘It may come in handy’ is scarcity mentality wrapped up in procrastination. If you add it up, holding onto stuff costs you more in time, energy and money (storing or maintaining) than getting rid of the item and buying another one in the future. There is a difference between something being useful and actually using something.
There is a slim chance that you may have regrets if you throw something away. But is this more stressful than keeping something hanging around ‘just because’?
This objection is tied up with the money excuse above, but it is more than that. When deciding to discard, you are not only saying goodbye to money but to your fantasy self who gets on the rowing machine daily, strums the guitar on quiet Sunday afternoons or finishes knitting that sweater.
If you are not quite ready to give up a particular hobby, then use the item. See if you actually enjoy rowing, playing guitar, or knitting. See if you want to continue trying to improve at it. Close that door if you need to. You have one life, so isn’t it better to pursue things that bring you the most fulfillment and that are true to who you really are?
Challenge Your Objections to Decluttering
You may believe you don’t know how to declutter but the act itself is not difficult. Sure a few tips and strategies come in handy, but you probably know best how to declutter your own home.
What is more important is to challenge your objections to decluttering such as, “I have no time”, “I spent money on it” and “I may use it someday”.
By facing down your objections to decluttering you invite a mindset shift. Then when you do declutter, you will know with absolute certainty that your world will not fall apart.
If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my latest book, Clutter-Free Forever.