Why a decluttering purge doesn’t work

In a nutshell: big decluttering purges get rid of stuff in the moment but they can make you overwhelmed and exhausted and they generally don’t stick

It sounds great in theory – pull all your clothes out, lay them on the bed, spilling onto the floor if needs be then start to go through them one by one – making boxes or piles for ‘keep’, ‘bin’ and ‘donate’. In reality though I’ve found it a bit different.

I get overwhelmed

When faced with a huge pile of things to sort through I have a tendency to shut the door on it and run away. It’s all too much, seeing it in a huge pile paralyses me and even though I know how to start (just start) I can’t do it. I get stuck.

I get over enthusiastic

Going through a huge pile of paperwork once I started to just chuck out handfuls, including my birth certificate. It’s a pain having to get a replacement when you need one.

I forget

I’ve done deep declutters in the summer and totally forgotten that I need jumpers in the winter. I realise this sounds like I am stupid but I got carried away in the process – asking myself – have I used it recently resulted in a ‘no’ and my brain told me to put it in the charity shop bag.

I repent

Faced with a large number of bin bags for the charity shop I am likely to avoid taking them for so long that I forget what is in them. Then I’m at risk of going through them in case I’ve changed my mind.

I reclutter

I try to avoid them for this very reason but the very sniff of a car boot sale results in almost instantaneous recluttering. Bargains are hard to resist.


I feel resentful

In the judging process when I’m going through my things and working out if I ‘should’ keep them or not I start to feel resentful on many levels. Why shouldn’t I keep it? Why can’t I live a minimalistic lifestyle like they do on the internet? Why do I have so much stuff?

The solution

The reason behind all this is because I’m not a minimalist and never will be. I love my stuff and yes, I should be able to keep it if I like it, even if it’s not at all useful, slightly broken and doesn’t look that nice – If I genuinely like it then yes, I should keep it. My home is filled with things that mean something to me, that have happy memories, that are used often and that I like.

The solution for me is to make decluttering a habit. I’m continually filling up a box for the charity shop by adding just a few things a day. I do my best to operate a one in 2 out principal (especially with books) and when the box is filled I get it out of the house as soon as possible

Decluttering doesn’t need to be horrible. It can be easy, painless and even fun. Make a game of it, reward yourself frequently, give yourself stars for getting rid of just 5 things for 5 days a week. It mounts up to thousands of things over the year and this way sticks.

For step by step instructions, printable worksheets and pretty pictures please click here to start the easy way to less stuff.