DECLUTTERING MINDSET TIPS: HOW TO GET INTO THE RIGHT MINDSET TO DECLUTTER
Most of the actions and decisions we make and take come down to our mindset and how we feel and think about something. In this article I explore some decluttering mindset tips and how to get into the right mindset to declutter with confidence and ease.
WHAT IS DECLUTTERING?
Decluttering is the process of getting rid of stuff in your home and life to create space, time and freedom for what matters. Less clutter means less stuff to manage, look after, move, tidy, clear and clean. There are many benefits to a decluttered home that make it easier to run, a calmer and more peaceful sanctuary from the busy world outside.
WHY DECLUTTERING ISN’T EASY
However, the actual process of decluttering isn’t easy. We often come up against common decluttering problems such as:
- Lack of time
- Lack of motivation
- Don’t know where to start
- Our family isn’t on board with the idea
- We don’t know what to keep and what to get rid of
- We struggle with decluttering guilt
- We don’t know what to do with our unwanted stuff
These are just a few of the obstacles that make decluttering feel overwhelming and unrealistic for busy people with busy lives.
WHY A DECLUTTERING MINDSET MATTERS
If our mindset has a large part to play in what we do in life, how we do it and how successful we are at it, then getting into the right mindset is hugely important but often overlooked. Faced with all the problems of decluttering, just some of which I’ve listed above, it’s no wonder that we find decluttering difficult.
For many of us, it’s not just a case of deciding we want to try living with less stuff and then expecting to chuck everything out, easily and quickly, and be clutter-free by dinner time. These expectations aren’t only unrealistic but they’re demotivating and set us up to fail before we’ve even begun.
Getting into the right mindset to declutter – the decluttering mindset – is key to successful, easier and less stressful decluttering. In fact, it should be the starting point for decluttering, before you even lift a finger!
HOW TO GET INTO A DECLUTTERING MINDSET
Below I’d like to share some tips on how to get into the right mindset to declutter. Some will be easier than others and it very much depends on your reasons and decluttering goals. What you want to achieve, your starting point now and your general levels of motivation, energy (and even fitness) will all play a part in building your own decluttering mindset.
1. Be prepared to get rid of stuff
This may seem obvious but decluttering is about removing stuff from your home. This, in itself, can feel scary and overwhelming. Maybe you’re a hoarder with years of stuff piled high in your home? Maybe you view your stuff as a security blanket and buffer from the outside world? Maybe you struggle with grief and loss of loved ones and past times and you hold onto your stuff to remind you of this. All of these are very real and valid reasons to be scared of decluttering but the hard truth is, decluttering involves getting rid of things. Make sure you know this and are prepared for that.
2. You have power over your stuff
In the point above I mentioned some ways that we let our stuff have power over of us. Sentimental items, just in case items and gifts all feel more important and valuable than just their physical presence and monetary value. In different ways we let these items wield power over us.
Yet, stuff is just stuff. The power we attach to them comes from our mindset and how we think about these things. I have some tips on how to declutter sentimental items and gifts which you may find useful to work through your feelings about stuff and the emotional ties it has over us. Until you find ways to release that power then you’ll find it tough to declutter some items.
3. Courage and confidence
Positive affirmations are statements of intent and purpose that we repeat to ourselves often. The more we say them and hear the words, the more we imprint them onto our brain. Our hopes, goals and expectations become more positive along with our mindset. Decluttering is all about courage and confidence. Hold the belief that you CAN do this, even though it might not be easy or quick and you’re more likely to declutter successfully. Think you’re going to fail before you start, and you’ve set yourself up to fail already.
Practice decluttering by starting in an easy place to build your decluttering muscles. Get motivated and encouraged to carry on, especially when you hit a difficult to declutter place and keep repeating positive thoughts to yourself.
4. Get clear on your why and remind yourself of it often
Most of us do better when we know why we’re doing it. We need an incentive, a reason, a purpose, especially when what we’re doing feels tough. A workout at the gym to lose weight or tone up, giving up alcohol to improve our health and feel more perky in the mornings. Decluttering is no different so before you start clearing your clutter, get crystal clear on why.
More time, space and freedom are all good reasons, but you might need to be more specific. For example, decluttering will give me more time to spend with my kids, have fun and laugh, whilst they’re little. Decluttering will help me get rid of my stuff so I can downsize and move home. How will decluttering help or change YOUR life – be specific? If you’re not sure, try these journal prompts for decluttering to get you started.
5. Go into problem-solving mode
My kids said to me the other day, why am I so good at solving problems. I said that’s what parents do. It doesn’t really matter what the problem is, you tackle it using the same principles. Identify the root of the problem, flex your brain muscles to come up with some solutions, and if one solution doesn’t work, understand why and use that knowledge to try another solution. Sometimes experience helps, sometimes thinking outside of the box helps, sometimes giving it a break and coming back with fresh eyes helps too.
Decluttering comes with problems but giving up because you hit a problem won’t get rid of your clutter and change your life. Acknowledging the problem is a problem and then finding a solution WILL help you get rid of your clutter and change your life. It’s not the problem that matters, it’s how you go about solving it that does. A decluttering mindset is also a problem-solving mindset.
6. Have a decluttering plan
I like to write things down, follow that list and tick things off as I go. I feel encouraged by my progress, productive because I’m not wasting time working out what to do next and a plan makes me feel like I’m in control and with a ‘I’ve got this!!’ mentality. If you know that you’re going to find decluttering tough and dither around not getting anywhere fast, a good decluttering mindset would be to have a plan of attack.
Grab a notebook and pen and write a list of what you want to declutter, or use my free Declutter Checklist to print out and tick off. Getting started in this way will help you build momentum and confidence to eventually declutter on your own.
7. Decluttering progress not perfection
Decluttering isn’t a perfect science and you’re probably not going to declutter perfectly the first time around, or even the second and third. Instead, aim for a bit less clutter than you had before. One less item in a room is still one less item. One item decluttered every day of the year is still 365 less items over the course of that year. Forget the perfect social media images, or what you see on Pinterest or YouTube, and declutter as much as you can, when you can. This way it will be realistic and sustainable for you and your life. A decluttering mindset is one where good is good enough, safe in the knowledge that you can declutter as often as you need.
8. Decluttering needs to be a regular habit
Decluttering more than once is very likely. Clutter invades and creeps around our spaces every day so you’re going to need to put in place some strong decluttering habits to keep the clutter at bay. A decluttering mindset loses the expectation that a single declutter session will clear clutter once and for all. Instead, we understand that decluttering requires a long-term shift in thinking and a commitment to taking action repeatedly to make sure our homes stay clutter-free.
9. Be prepared for difficult emotions
Decluttering your stuff is about dealing with your emotions as much as your physical items. Everything in your home sends out messages – where it came from, what it reminds you of, what it needs of you, what it says about you. A decluttering mindset is about bracing yourself to come up against these emotions and being ready to face them head on. You may not have all the answers first time around and they may catch you off guard, but being prepared to face guilt, wastefulness, frustration, regret, loss and grief, sadness, indecision, even anger, is all part of the decluttering process.
10. Know when you need a break
Faced with the physical and emotional hurdles of decluttering, you may need a break sometimes. This isn’t a sign of failure or weakness. You can pick up again when you’re ready. It is about listening to your body and brain and what they need.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
I’d love to know if you have any tips or thoughts to share? What mindset tips have you developed to make decluttering feel easier or is there anything that you particularly struggle with and find difficult. Leave a comment below!
MORE RESOURCES TO HELP YOU DECLUTTER WITH EASE AND SUCCESS
Here are some more resources to help you declutter your home and overcome common decluttering problems:
- Types of Clutter and How to Deal With Them
- The Cost of Clutter: What Is Your Clutter Costing You?
- The Clutter Cycle: 5 Tips to Help You Break the Cycle of Clutter
- What To Do When You’re Stuck in a Decluttering Rut
- How to Declutter Your Home and Life
- Can You Declutter Too Much? When Decluttering Goes Too Far
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I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!
Sunday 7th of May 2023
For me, the section on dealing with difficult emotions was particularly relevant. I find that I do best if I'm in the right mood. If I'm already feeling ashamed of my cluttered home, getting rid of (for instance) expired food will make me feel worse. But if I'm in a "fresh start-sweep it clean" mood, I'm able to shrug, say "Oh well, I'll aim to do better in future!" and toss the expired food into a garbage bag.
Balance Through Simplicity
Monday 8th of May 2023
Hi Laura. I totally agree. For those who are reading this and struggling to declutter, check in with your emotions before you try to check out that clutter!