Why Your Decluttering Failed

When I found minimalism, I went through three rounds of decluttering before finally figuring out how to declutter correctly. These are the mistakes that I made on my journey to a clutter free home.

Why Your Decluttering Failed

When I started my decluttering journey, I made a list of every single place in my house that I wanted to declutter. I broke this list down into tiny little places that would take me 15 minutes or less to declutter, so I could easily tackle one space a day without getting overwhelmed. It seemed like a good enough plan of action, but after about a month of consistent decluttering, I was over it. I didn’t want to spend even 15 minutes a day decluttering anymore.

I am the kind of person that goes all out when I do something. If I wanted to clean out my closet, I’d spend a good 9 hours taking everything out, organizing and cleaning and replacing. I am not the type to do things slowly and methodically over a long period of time.

When I tried to convince myself that my 40 day, 15-minute-per-day plan was the best, I didn’t take into account my personality and behavioral habits. I probably would have done better with a solid three days of decluttering my whole house.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #1: You didn’t find a plan that works for you.

A few months after my first semi-failed attempt at decluttering, I decided to try decluttering again. I knew the end result would be worth it, so I gave it another go, in a much less methodical way this time. My weekends and some weeknights soon became filled with decluttering time. I took it one room at a time this turn around, which worked out much better for me. I put everything I wanted to get rid of in boxes, and put the boxes in my car to donate.

Six months later, the boxes were still in my car. I’d decluttered a lot of my house, most of it was in the post-declutter stage. Boxes full of stuff to donate were now in my garage and car, and sometimes when I was too lazy to do a load of laundry, I’d go out to those boxes and find some clothes or dish towels to bring back in.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #2: You didn’t donate the excess right away.

Eventually, I got rid of those boxes. I finally took them to the thrift store, where they could find new homes with people who actually needed these things. I felt happy, content, and finally had my weekends back. But now that my decluttering was finished, and my house was clean and clear, what would I do in my spare time?

I resorted to my old favorite hobby: Target. I made a decision; now that my house was clean and empty, it was time to define my style with some updated and “grown up” homewares. I started spending my weekends at Target, stocking up on throw pillows, bed ruffles, new sheets and duvet covers, and even researched the internet for over 40 hours to find the perfect headboard.

Why Your Decluttering Failed

The problem was that my “style” would always be changing. Sometimes I wanted a boho bedroom filled with plants, dreamcatchers, and crazy amounts of pillows, and sometimes I wanted a clean and minimalist look where everything was white and had some purpose to it. Because my style would change so often, I was constantly updating my throw pillows and home decor.

Reason Why Your Decluttering Failed #3: You kept bringing stuff in.

Eventually I realized what I was doing. I made another decision, this time a much healthier one. I was going to become a “minimalist,” give up trying to define my style, and stop spending all of my time and money at Target.

You don’t have to become a minimalist to be successful at decluttering. I just had to stop bringing stuff in, which just meant a simple change in my lifestyle. I started going for hikes when I was bored instead of going on Pinterest or heading to Target. I’m pretty sure I’ve made all of the mistakes possible in the decluttering process, but I’m happy to say I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Your Turn!

  • What decluttering mistakes have you made?
  1. My problem with completing my decluttering is that I’m a creative person who loves a good project. So I always think to myself, I’ll hold onto this or that because I can use it for a future project. And sometimes I do use these items, and often I don’t. But it’s difficult to predict what I will use and what I won’t…My other problem is that, with my kids heading off to college soon, I think, oh he might use this in his dorm, or she may use that in her first apartment. It’s not so much a matter of clutter in my every day living spaces – but you should see my basement and my attic! Both are full of “someday” projects and “someday” necessities for by kids. And although I don’t visit the attic or basement daily, knowing all that stuff is there weighs me down.

  2. The biggest fail to staying decluttered and minimalist long-term is people don’t address their consumer therapy problem. If you declutter and start bringing more shit in, you ‘ll fail. Or like you said, they never got rid of enough in the first place.

    My main goal in decluttering and minimizing was to make it easier to keep my house clean. That was it. I didn’t have any aspirations initially other than that. If I could get rid of the floordrobe, get rid of the mountain of tchotchkes and other crap that kept me from cleaning all the surfaces, I would be happy. If I owned so little stuff in the kitchen that the countertops were always clear after a meal, I would be happy.

    I went deeper into minimalism to stop “thinking” so much. If I owned as few garments as possible, it was easier to dress every day and not think about what I should wear. If all of my linens and dishes were white, it was easier to make or buy replacement pieces. Again, less thinking required.

    Doing a capsule wardrobe was probably the most radical thing I did. I started wearing the same dress every day in March and plan to go to next March, when I’ll make a different dress and wear that for a year. I was inspired by this woman:

  3. I definitely have fallen into the trap of not getting rid of excess things right away. I don’t have a car, so I would often use that as an excuse for not donating things, so then bags of things to donate starting seeping back into my closet.

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