Common mistakes to avoid when decluttering


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If you’re on a minimalist journey, you probably found yourself needing to declutter your home to simplify your life. However, I see many people making common mistakes that I think we should avoid when decluttering, as they are preventing us from making any progress.

If you are making these decluttering mistakes, it’s okay. You’ll do better next time, minimalism is a journey. I have made several of them as well, but I’ve learned from them.

So now, I want to share my experience with you to prevent you from making them!

Reading about these 8 common mistakes to avoid when decluttering will help you declutter fast and efficiently and grow on your minimalism journey. 

8 common mistakes to avoid when decluttering

Mistake #1 – Taking on too much at once

I think this is one of the most common mistakes to avoid when decluttering!

When we are decluttering an area of our home, it is easy to start tackling another area at the same time.

Maybe you’ve just started to sort through your cupboards and you’ve found some books, and then find yourself decluttering books at the same time?

It can happen but I think that you can get overwhelmed very quickly if you take up new decluttering projects.

When you’re decluttering, your room or home can easily look as if a tornado hit. And it is even worse if you’re doing too much at the same time.

Also, try to be realistic about the time it will take to declutter a certain area. Give it extra time, because chances are it will take longer than expected.

Don’t try to overachieve because you might lose your motivation and feel anxious. Take one step at a time and focus only on one area at the same time.

Taking up small but regular decluttering projects is the best way to declutter efficiently over time. Minimalism is a marathon, not a sprint!

Mistake #2 – Postponing decluttering

I think that most of us suffer from procrastination in many parts of our lives. I wrote a full blog post on how to stop procrastinating.

We constantly need to fight to avoid postponing things and take action to do what needs to be done.

Procrastination can also happen when we are decluttering. Maybe you want to declutter, but you are feeling anxious because it seems like too big a task to handle?

You might end up postponing this decluttering project before even starting.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or if you don’t have the time to tackle a project, just try to commit to going through one drawer.

Choose a very small area to tackle that could be done in 5 to 15 minutes. When you achieve it, you’ll feel motivated to maybe declutter even more.

That’s a great way to gain momentum and take up bigger decluttering projects.

But try to avoid postponing decluttering. Postponing means you’ll have more work in the future.

Just sort through one small area if you cannot do more. That’s still progress and you’ll thank yourself for that later.

Postponing decluttering is one of the most common mistakes to avoid when decluttering.

Mistake #3 – Thinking that decluttering is the same as organizing 

Many people make this mistake when trying to practice minimalism. I used to do it several years ago.

I used to think that organizing would make my room look tidier and that it was the way to go.

Of course, organizing does make a difference in how your home looks. It feels like you have things under control and that everything has its own home.

However, if the only thing you’re doing is organizing, chances are you may still have too many items cluttering up your space.

It means that in a few days, in a few weeks, you’ll need to go through your belongings again. Organizing doesn’t remove any clutter and excess from your home.

If you’re organizing, but you own way too many things, you will struggle to maintain your home and keep it tidy.

The best thing to do is to completely remove the excess from your home. Organizing and decluttering are two different things.

So first focus on decluttering, then on organizing the remaining things.

Read more: How to develop a minimalist mindset? 13 simple tips to think like a minimalist

Mistake #4 – Not getting rid of decluttered items right away

When you declutter your belongings, I highly recommend that you get these items out of your home as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you or your family members might start going through the donation bags again. You’ll be more likely to take those things back to your home.

You might second-guess what you got rid of, which is not what you want to do if you want to live more minimally.

This is probably one of the most common mistakes to avoid when decluttering!

Try to take the donation bags to the thrift store as soon as you finish decluttering. That way, these items will be out of your home, and out of your mind.

If it’s too late in the day for you to do it, place the bags in the trunk of your car. It will be ready to be donated the next day.

If you intend to sell your items, list them for sale the same day. And then, hide them away in a closet, out of sight.

Doing that will help you experience the benefits of a decluttered home and you’ll feel great that you did it.

However, don’t keep things you have listed for sale for too long. If you see that an item doesn’t sell for weeks or even months, chances are you’ll never be able to sell it.

It isn’t worth keeping them for ages. It’s taking up space, so donate it after a certain time. Learn to let go of things.  

Mistake #5 – Decluttering just for the sake of decluttering

If you’ve started your minimalism journey, chances are you want less and you’ve experienced a rush to declutter and get rid of things from your life.

You feel lighter afterward and enjoy many other benefits of minimalism. Decluttering means that you are making progress, but sometimes, you may be overdoing it.

At times, it is possible that you get rid of something, just to get rid of something. Because you felt the need to.

But acting like that, you might accidentally let go of something that you use or that you love. And you might need to repurchase it in the future.

So when decluttering, try to think about the reason why you want to get rid of an item.

If you have a good reason, that’s great, you’ll probably never regret this decision and you’ll feel good about letting it go. But be intentional.

Of course, I don’t want to encourage you to keep too many things. Just make sure that you aren’t decluttering things out of impulse, just for the sake of decluttering. 

Decluttering just for the sake of it is a common mistake to avoid when decluttering

Mistake #6 – Only following rules set by others 

When decluttering, it’s great to look for inspiration online. There are so many amazing resources out there that help you minimize and give you ideas on how to do it.

But the thing is, minimalism is different for each person. You don’t have the same lifestyle as other people.

So, listen to others’ advice, but try to make your own minimalist rules. Don’t exclusively apply others’ tips without adapting them to your life and your home.

Some tips may work perfectly for people, but maybe those aren’t the best thing to do for your lifestyle.

Take the best of those tips and adapt them according to your needs. Minimalism should add value to your life.

So, nobody should tell you that you cannot own a given item or that you need to only have 30 pieces of clothing. Those are very common minimalism myths I see, especially on social media.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to be real with yourself so that you don’t end up decluttering something you’ll regret. 

Mistake #7 – Being too sentimental

A mistake we may be making while decluttering is to be too sentimental. We shouldn’t be sentimental over every item we own.

It is especially hard when you have a memory attached to an item or when it belonged to a loved one who passed away.

I’m sometimes guilty of it and I think many people are. But, we can quickly accumulate an excessive amount of sentimental items.

Of course, as a minimalist, you definitely can have sentimental items. And I do think that’s amazing if you do.

Sentimental items can bring you a lot of joy and remind you of wonderful memories. These are things we need to cherish.

But to minimize the excess, we need to keep in mind that our memories are inside of us, not in these things.

Taking a picture of the item is a great thing to do if you’re struggling to declutter it.

Also, I sometimes found myself feeling sentimental over an item, just because I had it for a long time. But the item didn’t even have any meaning to me!

So when we own way too many things, we need to be ruthless otherwise we may never succeed to have a simplified home.

Sometimes, we just own too much stuff, and we need to understand that only decluttering will help us minimize the excess.

Mistake #8 – Moving unused things to another spot in your home

While decluttering, you may stumble upon items that you don’t use, but you may have clutter blindness and not realize they’re clutter.

Or you’re convincing yourself that you should keep them. You find reasons, even if you don’t use them.

Another common situation is that you may not know what to do with an item. So you are keeping it because you can’t make a decision.

In both situations, you end up keeping things that don’t add value to your life.

So to have them out of your mind, you might relocate them to another area in your home. Maybe it’s a closet, a cupboard, or a drawer.

But moving unused things to another spot and hiding them in a closet won’t make you use them.

By doing that, you are just hiding what you don’t want to think about. You aren’t simplifying your home if you find yourself doing it often.

Moving excess things somewhere else doesn’t remove them from your home. They’re still there so you’re not making any progress.

Try to make a decision right away and believe in your gut. It usually doesn’t lie.

Those were 8 common mistakes to avoid when decluttering! I hope that you got something out of this blog post!

I think that a lot of us fall into those mistakes when we are trying to simplify our spaces. The thing is, they may be preventing us from letting go of stuff efficiently.

Again, if you made one of these mistakes, it’s okay. Minimalism is a long journey. You live and you learn. Isn’t it what we say?

To help you declutter even more, don’t forget to check my best decluttering hacks for minimalist living.

Now, let us know in the comments, what are some other common mistakes to avoid when decluttering?

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  • Kathy

    I like this content. It’s very useful : your research is deep. I am sure that everyone can take advantage of your tips. Thank you for everything.

    • Eva

      Thank you!! 🙂
      Don’t feel guilty about this! I think it happens to everyone, especially when we’re not in the mood to declutter. 😉

    • Eva

      Please don’t feel guilty if you’re not doing things perfectly. The most important thing is that you’re making efforts to do better! 😉
      And don’t forget decluttering gets easier with time and practice!

  • Karen

    These are awesome points, I never even thought of some of them! Love to clean while putting on a podcast or a sermon, it makes it such a productive event x thank you for sharing!

    • Eva

      Thank you so much!! 🙂
      I love podcasts too, it makes cleaning the house a lot less annoying, and you learn so much at the same time!

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