Are you looking to get your cluttered house under control but having trouble making progress? Does it feel like a losing battle?
Check out these three common mistakes and learn how to achieve your home decluttering goals.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you use them (at no cost to you). Full disclosure.
1. Buying things you don’t need
If you’re buying something because 1) it’s cute or 2) it’s on sale,
This is an automatic cue that you don’t need to make this purchase. Your mind is tricking you into thinking it is a good decision, but how many times have you fallen for this trap?
You may get some temporary pleasure from an impulse purchase, but all the things build up over time, creating a cluttered house and mind. It’s more to pick up, more to clean, and more to store.
Get into the habit of visiting stores less frequently, and you’ll be tempted less. If you need to get out of the house or kill some time, make a list of other activities that can scratch this itch. Go for a walk outside, visit a museum or library.
If you do need to visit a store, put your blinders on and only get what you came for. When I go to Target to pick up prescriptions and diaper cream, I’m amazed at how many beautiful things are there peering out at me from the ends of those aisles. But do I really need another set of coasters or a water bottle covered in French bulldogs? No.
What are your biggest temptations? Especially stay away from those stores and sections. For me, it’s home accessories. I could freshen up my throw pillows and hand towels endlessly, but will that really add that much value to my life? For some moms, it may be makeup or clothes.
Just walk away from the purchase. If it’s important enough, you can plan for it another day.
Try a no-spend month. Your wallet and your mental health with thank you.
Exercise control and start buying less to cut clutter off at the source. If you can’t stem the flow of acquiring new things, no amount of decluttering is going to get your cluttered house under control, and you’ll be fighting a losing battle.
2. Breaking the one-touch rule
The one-touch rule seems so simple. Just put things in their place the first time, right? Yet it’s so easy to fall into the trap of setting something down to deal with it later.
Trust me, going for convenience now is going to cost you in the long run.
Suddenly you’re looking around wondering how all the flat surfaces got filled with STUFF. If you’re like me, this can send you into panic mode.
The one-touch rule is something I’m continually retraining the family on. It’s that important to my mom sanity.
Nothing can send a mom over the edge like a pile of clothes on the floor next to the hamper.
I try to explain to each family member (husband included), that if we each set down 5 things a day not in their place, that is 30 things a day! No one, least of all me, wants to spend hours of their evening or weekend picking up all the little things that have been set down without a second thought.
I can certainly be guilty of this too. Trying to find what I want to wear in the morning and leaving out 4 shirts instead of putting them back. Next thing I know, the bedroom looks like a clothes explosion.
I try hard to make sure we have a place for everything. For example, each kid has a coat hook and shoe basket. It’s about setting up the expectation and habit that things need to go in their place, because MOM IS NOT PICKING THEM UP.
Mail is another thing that can just get out of control. Our entryway table can quickly become littered with junk, including the discards from everyone’s pockets, random cups from the car, and stacks of mail. We have a small basket on this table for bills and mail that needs an action. Otherwise, all other paper should immediately go into the recycle bin.
Most of the time it just takes a few extra seconds and steps to another room to put things properly in their place the first time. It has to take a concerted effort from everyone, but it is key to keeping clutter under control.
Tell your family members about the one-touch rule. Make it a game if you have to. Show them that there is a place for each belonging and make it known that you will not be cleaning up behind everyone. Then follow through.
If you make them pick up after themselves rather than doing it for them, they’ll soon learn that doing it the first time is easiest for everyone.
3. Being afraid to get rid of things
The most common excuse I hear is, “I might need it/use it one day.” If something has been sitting in a drawer or closet for months or years, what are the real chances it will actually be used in the near future? Is it worth the physical and mental space it’s occupying, or could you let it go and borrow or purchase one in the future if a real need actually arises?
Common items include clothes that don’t fit, random cords, and books you intend to read.
My advice: just get rid of these things. You’ll enjoy the cleared out space and feel lighter. In my experience, I have yet to miss one of these.
If the hesitation is because you spent money on something, you already spent the money, so getting rid of the item will not change that fact. The money was gone the instant you made the purchase. You may even be able to recoup some money by selling unused belongings.
There is also a concept that your belongings are costing you by occupying limited space in your home. Your square footage has value, whether you rent or own. So you are essentially paying for continued storage of your belongings. Think about whether the items you choose to keep are worth this cost.
Sentimental items can also be difficult to let go of. Obviously you don’t want to be chucking things that are truly meaningful to you, but many things we keep around out of association or obligation rather than their value to our lives. Give yourself the freedom to let them go.
For more decluttering inspiration, check out these books:
Are you ready to tackle these 3 mistakes and enjoy feeling lighter in your space? Say goodbye to your cluttered house!
If you found this helpful, please pin it.