8 Common De-cluttering mistakes: are you making them?

Common Declutter Mistakes

When inspiration hits and you're ready to tackle your clutter, you could find your time, energy and efforts wasted if you don't know the correct philosophy and technique to effective de-cluttering.

As children we are often not taught how to effectively de-clutter.  Instead, it is a skill we need to seek out and learn for ourselves as pro-active as adults. 

These are the 8 most common de-clutter mistakes I see happening all the time; have you made these in the past?

Buying Storage 'Solutions' First

Do not start your de-clutter efforts with a trip to the shops! Pretty containers and baskets are very alluring and fun to pick out; but they are also a magnet for clutter, often expensive and in almost all cases, completely unnecessary. At the core of de-cluttering philosophy is happily living with less; buying more things is entirely counter-productive.

Organising before de-cluttering

Before we organise and store, first we must curate and discard.  On average, people only use 20% of their items 80% of the time.  Which means we are all buying, moving, cleaning, storing and managing a lot of things we rarely or never use.  This costs you space, time and money.  Instead of becoming a storage facility and stuff manager, remove what does not contribute to your home. Only then can you effectively organise what remains.

Keeping things ‘just in case’

'Just in case' is storage of stuff with no determined use or end in sight.  It is entirely hypothetical and highly unlikely to come true. Just in case is a soft reason we tell ourselves when we find ourselves unable to make a decision. If 'just in case' is your reason to hold onto something, chances are you'll be better off without it.

De-cluttering for other people without their knowledge or consent

We should only ever de-clutter items that we have sole ownership or responsibility for. If you want to de-clutter items belonging to someone else, including children over 4, or that you have shared ownership with, enlist their participation. Never throw away something behind someone's back, or risk losing their trust and and disengagement from your whole de-clutter operation.

Assessing things in their place of storage 

If you to assess items properly, do not do it while they sit in the cupboard, drawer or on the shelf. Get everything out of their storage space. You cannot make a true determination with them in their usual spot.

Keeping things out of obligation

When people gift you items, it is to show their love and care for you.  The effort which has been made and the giving gesture is the gift itself.  Recognise and appreciate the effort for the intention and care; but if you don't like the item, don't feel obliged to keep it indefinitely. 

Letting others question your de-clutter decision

Once you have done the hard work of deciding what to de-clutter, don't let your Mum, Sister or Best friend come over and look through your released items.  If they do, you run the risk of them challenging your efforts, attempting to overturn your decisions with their own opinions and bias.  The only person who you have to justify your decisions to is yourself.

Making your clutter problem someone else

Don't try to relieve your own guilt of buying and keeping something that you didn't use by foisting it onto other people.  This makes your clutter problem their clutter problem; and people will often feel obligated to take your unwanted items, wondering what to do with the items themselves! I also find children often become the dumping ground for things that adults no longer want but don't know what to do with.  Sell or donate the item instead.