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What are you doing instead of decluttering?

Everyone wants to be organized but no one wants to declutter because it’s overwhelming. You take one look at the guest room and you just want to close the door and make it all go away.

You cede the space to your clutter and take yourself out of the house as much as possible.

When that’s not possible, if there’s a pandemic or something, you remove yourself mentally. Phones are great for that, as are podcasts, YouTube, Netflix, DVDs, books and CDs.

We can occupy ourselves from morning to night with a steady stream of entertainment and turn a blind eye to the state of our spaces.

Huddling on the edge of a couch, scrolling through Facebook for hours at a time, we’re still aware on some level that the clutter is there. Numbing out by reading for hours and hours still means that when we finally put the book down, we’re dropping it on a pile of laundry or an ocean of papers.

That makes us feel bad, so we turn once again to the phone, the book, a movie or take another nap. Or we start doing something very noble that’s undeniably helpful to a cause other than decluttering our space.

Some of us have made hundreds of masks in rooms that sorely needed decluttering

You get praised for donating masks, you get very little in the way of positive feedback for dealing with your clutter.

Telling someone you’ve decluttered a pathway in your living room can feel like telling someone you took a shower and brushed your teeth this morning. You don’t tend to get a lot of high fives for doing what everyone thinks is the baseline.

How to face decluttering

Know where you’re going to start and what you’re going to do. If the guest room is giving you the most stress, open the door, survey the scene and pick a corner.

Set your timer for twenty minutes. What can you do in that time? Can you take out any obvious trash?  Can you start grouping things into categories so all the unopened bags go in one spot, all the bedding goes in another?

If twenty minutes feels like too much, try ten minutes.

Take whatever amount of time feels like you could manage it and do half of that.

READ MORE >>> How to stop organizing overwhelm

Even if you only let one thing go before the timer rings, that’s one less item to deal with. You’re building your decluttering muscles in a sustainable way so you don’t burn out.

When the timer rings, reward yourself with some time on Facebook, or a chapter of your novel. It’s going to feel so good to have earned it. You want your brain to associate decluttering with good feelings, whether that’s the satisfaction of having made some progress or the lift from a little sanctioned social media.

READ MORE >>> How to declutter and organize

by Lucy Kelly


  1. Clutter can be that elephant in the room. But when we’re willing and ready to take that tiny next step in a space, as you suggested, like removing the “obvious trash,” or grouping like with like, the mental stress and overwhelm begins to dissipate. The small action creates enough positive movement forward to make more decluttering possible. Rewarding work with a fun activity is a great idea too, and works effectively for many.