How to Declutter When You Feel Stuck

How to declutter when you feel stuck

Although it feels like it should be easy, decluttering can be difficult for some. Getting rid of our stuff can be hard work, daunting and bring up mixed emotions that put us off. If you feel like this, check out this post on how to declutter when you feel stuck for 5 simple tips to make decluttering easier.


Decluttering feels like it should be easy doesn’t it? You just get rid of the stuff you don’t want and keep the stuff you do. Right? Well, yes in essence that’s what decluttering is. Yet, in reality, decluttering for some of us can be far from easy.

Here are some scenarios which you might recognise…

  • You’ve got no time or energy
  • You’ve always got the kids with you
  • Your partner doesn’t understand what you want to do
  • You’ve got lots of stuff
  • You’re a bit of a hoarder and like your things around you
  • You don’t like throwing things away or wasting money
  • You don’t know where to start

I’m sure many of us can resonate with at least one, if not more, of these scenarios! For myself, my husband is a hoarder (still tries to be) and he definitely found it difficult initially to understand what I was doing, and why. You can read more about this here.

When my kids were little, they had a lot of toys and finding ways to streamline those led to some interesting and tense discussions with them. What toys did they play with, could we give a few to children who didn’t have any, how could we encourage their grandparents to treat their grandkids without adding to the growing toy mountain? Yet, little by little, we addressed all these issues and benefitted in so many new ways. Click to read more about decluttering toys, or gifts and what to do with them.

From experience and a few false starts in the early days, here I’m sharing 5 little tips on how to declutter when you feel stuck. I hope they help…

How to declutter when you feel stuck
1. Understand your why

When faced with a task, and particularly if you’re finding it a daunting one like decluttering your entire home, it’s vital to ask yourself ‘why’ you want to do it.

  • Why aren’t things working for you now?
  • What will change?
  • What benefit will you get?

Identifying the reason and the purpose will spur you on when the going gets tough. It will help motivate you to carry on if you hit a stumbling block (sorting through old photos perhaps or tackling the attic!?).

Remember your ‘why’, write it down and repeat it out loud to yourself before you start decluttering.

2. Keep it very simple

When things get complicated, we tend not to follow them through or make excuses to avoid them. Each time you pick up an item, just ask yourself some easy questions:

  • Do you love it?
  • Do you need it?
  • Does it add value in some way?

If the answer is no to all three of these questions, get rid of the item. You’re not likely to make more use of it by stuffing it in a cupboard somewhere.

3. Think of decluttering as gifting

If you have trouble getting rid of your stuff, think of it more in terms of giving to others. Give a book to a friend, take a bundle of clothes to the charity shop, take toys your kids have grown out of to the local nursery or playgroup.

There’s usually somebody who can benefit from the stuff you no longer need.

This worked especially well with my kids and their toys. I asked them to think about donating some of their unwanted toys to other children who weren’t as fortunate and it’s still a practice we do regularly even now.

4. Start small

The hardest part of anything is usually getting started in the first place. Whether you have one cupboard or a whole house to declutter, you’ll still have to start somewhere. Once you’ve started, the momentum you gather will hopefully encourage you to continue and, decluttering gets easier with practice.

Here are some very tiny projects for you to start with (and how you can build on them if you have time and inclination):

  • Delete an unused app from your phone (then try deleting all unused apps and re-order the ones you’re keeping)
  • Donate one book (moving onto the whole shelf)
  • Remove 5 old or unwanted emails from your inbox, not mine hopefully(!), (aim towards all unwanted emails and re-order/archive what’s left)
  • Throw out any empty or very-nearly-empty bottles in your bathroom (then have a go at the flat surfaces and storage in your bathroom)
  • One shelf in your fridge (moving onto the whole fridge)

Starting can be small but effective, especially when you consider that even big projects need to start somewhere to be successful.

5. Have a plan

Some of us just decide to dive straight into clearing the clutter and get swept along in the process. Others work better when they know what they’re doing.

There’s a couple of ways you can define the rules before you go into battle with your clutter.


  • choose a room, type of item or particular project and stick with that or,
  • decide how long you’ve got and set a timer.

By having some clear expectations will help you stay on task. Five minutes or just one drawer. It doesn’t matter as long as you have a plan in mind and aim to follow it through.

You can take on your whole home with this approach and adjust the rules according to how much time, energy or motivation you have right there and then.

I hope these tips are helpful and give you some ideas on how to declutter when you feel stuck and aren’t sure where to start or what to do next.

For more practical tips on getting started check out my post on 10 ways to make decluttering easier.


Decluttering can throw up all sorts of challenges beyond just the physical act of sorting through your stuff and deciding what to keep and what to let go.

Wanting to declutter but feeling stuck is nothing to feel bad about. There are plenty of ways to help you overcome whatever is holding you back or getting in your way.

Take heart and let me sum it up like this:

  • Much of it is down to trial and error and finding what works for you
  • Slow and steady will get you there fine. Just be consistent.

Keep in mind this quote from Joshua Becker…

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”

It’s a powerful reason to declutter the things you no longer want so you can make more space for things that you do.