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Slow Decluttering: The Benefits of Decluttering Slowly

Slow Decluttering: The Benefits of Decluttering Slowly


Today’s world seems to be about getting things done quick. We want the easiest hack to getting what we want in the fastest way possible but I’m not sure that this is always the best approach. In this article we look at slow decluttering and the benefits of decluttering slowly for a clutter-free home and life that’s more likely to stay like that!


A decluttered home is easier to manage, feels more spacious and calm and is an inviting place for us to slow down, relax and spend time with friends and family. Home is the place we come back to at the end of the day and where we launch ourselves from at the start of the next.

There are so many benefits of owning less stuff and reasons to clear our clutter that it’s no wonder that decluttering has become so popular over the last few years. Maybe it’s a reaction to the modern day paradigm of do more, have more, achieve more and BE more. Perhaps it’s a way that we can take control of our environments and find ways to protect our physical and mental health in a world that feels topsy-turvy and stressful.

“Your home should be the antidote to stress, not the cause of it.”

Peter Walsh


However, for anyone that’s tried decluttering, you’ll be familiar with some of the common problems. Too much stuff, not enough time, lack of motivation, physical limitations that come with chronic illness and older age, a partner who hoards, kids with too many toys, not knowing where to start. Let alone trying to declutter when you’re moving, struggling with mental health problems or just unsure what decluttering will actually give you more of by getting rid of what you don’t want.

The problems of decluttering aren’t just to do with the physical act of clearing clutter. They’re to do with the values and beliefs we hold about the stuff we carry through life with us, sentimental attachment, fear of letting go and what will happen when we do, regret, grief, remorse, guilt and difficulty getting into the decluttering mindset and building courage and confidence to tread a clutter-free path.

Phew, that’s just a few of the decluttering problems I know many people come up against and there are many more I haven’t listed!


With all these problems it’s no wonder that many people who declutter fall into one of two categories. They either get stuck before they’ve started (or try it for a bit and give up) or they grab everything up, give or throw it away and then feel guilt and regret and blame decluttering on ruining their home and life.

There are many benefits of decluttering fast. I even share some tips on how to declutter fast which you might enjoy reading at some point. Decluttering fast helps you see and feel results quickly, to spur you on and encourage you to continue. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, or just need to reset yourself and your home, a quick declutter can be really therapeutic and cleansing. A bit like how we feel when we’ve spring-cleaned our homes!

However, not everyone can declutter fast and there are many benefits of decluttering slowly. So, if you’re struggling and want to practice the art of slow decluttering, this article is for you! No guilt, no pressure, just gentle reminders to take your time.

And, if you’re in doubt, keep in mind the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady actually wins the race!

Slow decluttering


Here are some benefits of decluttering slowly and taking your time to deal with your clutter.

1. Decluttering and mindfulness

Mindfulness is the art of being present in the moment. Forgetting the stresses and worries of the past and the future but savouring what you’re doing, thinking and feeling right here and now. Mindfulness is a useful tool to help nurture better mental health. There is also a wonderful relationship between decluttering and mindfulness which encourages us to declutter with intention and purpose. What do you really need to make you happy? What clutters your home and life and removes you from living life to the full in this very moment? Stop thinking about ‘just in case’ and ‘what if’.

This is your life right now. Whilst there are some benefits to being aware of what ‘future you’ might need, or what ‘past you’ found useful and enjoyable, ‘present you’ will be thankful for a decluttered home and life. Slow decluttering helps you take stock of where you are right now, to align your stuff and your home with what you need today and enjoy the physical act of creating a space that works for you. No rush, no stress, no worry. Just slow, easier and more mindful decluttering.

2. Decluttering and saving energy

Fast decluttering requires oomph and energy. Decluttering can be hard work with all that reaching, stretching, lifting and moving. If your energy levels aren’t as high as they used to be or as high as you’d like them, then slow decluttering can help you make decluttering progress in a way that feels right to you. No need to dash around from room to room bagging up as many items as you can before your internal body clock timer runs out of steam, just do a little bit as often as you can.

The key to successful and easier decluttering is to work with the resources you have available and declutter regularly and consistently. This approach will help you become clutter-free far more effectively than a quick-off-the-blocks and quick-to-burn-out strategy. Slow decluttering will help you save energy for where it’s most needed.

3. Decluttering and physical limitations

Decluttering doesn’t just require energy, it can require strength, stamina and suppleness too! Decluttering is a bit like a workout and I like to think it burns a few calories! However, if you have physical limitations which make decluttering difficult, this is another good reason to declutter slowly. Give yourself time in between decluttering sessions to recover and rest. Do one shelf instead of the whole bookcase, one drawer instead of the whole kitchen. Any progress is still progress. Decluttering is meant to be liberating and empowering if you keep in mind what you’re hoping to achieve. The strategy you use to declutter will depend on your individual circumstances and there’s no right or wrong way to declutter. You just need to find what works for you, rinse and repeat.

4. Get clear on your why

Everybody’s talking about decluttering and, like with any trendy fad, we get caught up with it but sometimes without questioning the purpose or benefit. There are a zillion decluttering resources available with valuable information on what to declutter and how to do it. But, what’s most important is that you take the time to work out why YOU want to declutter. What will a less cluttered home and life give you? How and what would change in your life with less stuff to distract and detract? What does clutter hold you back from? What emotions does your clutter make you feel, and why?

Decluttering slowly gives you time and space to lean into these questions and fully think through your responses. You’re not decluttering as a quick reaction to something you’ve seen or read but instead you’re decluttering in response to how your clutter looks and makes you feel. The  distinction may be subtle but it’s important. Slow decluttering will help you get clear on why you want to declutter, what it will help you change or achieve and make it clearer for you to know how to do it. Try these journal prompts for decluttering to help you understand your why.

5. Define what’s important and adds value

Decluttering slowly gives us time to work out what we really want to keep, is meaningful and supports us to live a better life. Identifying the things that add value takes time and thought. Sometimes we know instantly whether we use an item or not, but often this is something we learn over time. We might be used to having our stuff around us, it becomes a habit, and it’s not until we thoughtfully question when we last used an item that the reality kicks in. Maybe it hasn’t been used in the last week, month, season, even the last year or two. If something is important and adds value we’ll feel strongly about it or seek it out often. And, of course, the opposite is true. Over time we build a picture of what’s important and adds value, and what doesn’t.

Slow decluttering

6. Reduces decluttering guilt and anxiety

Using the process of slow decluttering to give you more time to identify the stuff you need and want vs the stuff you’ve kept out of habit (or fear or something else) is a good litmus test for whether you really do the need the item at all. Decluttering slowly gives you time to work out what’s important and adds value. Decluttering fast means you have to make quick decisions and sometimes you might make a decision you later regret.

Slow decluttering reduces guilt, anxiety and stress over decluttering because you have time and space to make less hasty decisions, find a good home for your unwanted items and really think through your decluttering process. This makes guilt and decluttering anxiety less heavy.

7. Understand how your home works for you

How your home works for you is an important part of making your home feel special and unique to you. The functions your home performs, whether it’s just for you, you and your family, for guests, and for your individual requirements can change over time. We can use different rooms for different purposes. For example, a guest bedroom might become a baby nursery, a playroom might become an office.

Giving yourself time to find the best layout for your home, the zones, décor, colour schemes and styles can help understand how your home works for you. Once you understand that, then you can work out what you need in that home to help it function even better. Think of storage solutions, organisation systems, furniture, décor accessories and so on. Use slow decluttering to get rid of the stuff that no longer helps your home work its best for you.

8. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Sometimes when we declutter fast we get swept along with the momentum of the process and we could accidentally throw out something we later regret. I mentioned earlier that decluttering slowly helps avoid hasty decisions so, particularly if you’re worried about decluttering the ‘wrong’ things, take it slow and steady.

9. Create good decluttering habits

Clutter keeps on coming back even after we’ve decluttered. The trick is to declutter but also to put in place some easy but robust decluttering habits to stay clutter-free. However, like most habits, decluttering habits don’t just happen overnight. They take repetition and time to become part of the natural rhythm of our day. Putting in place good habits starts with doing something one day and repeating it the next, rinse and repeat, day in and day out. There’s no quick fix for building good habits, they take time. Slow decluttering alongside the development of good decluttering habits can help you tackle clutter-creep, break the cycle of clutter coming into your home and keep you clutter-free for the long term.

10. When decluttering feels scary, overwhelming and daunting

Decluttering can feel tough because you have too much stuff. It can feel scary because you get overwhelmed by the prospect of following a decluttering checklist or because you don’t know how to get your unwanted stuff out of your house if you don’t drive and don’t have anyone to support you. There are loads of other reasons too why decluttering can be overwhelming.

Stop, take a breath, and reflect. Take it one book or utensil at a time, ten minutes at a time, one day at a time. Think it through, come up with a plan, do a little bit on a whim, call a friend and schedule their help one afternoon next week. Nothing big, nothing complicated, nothing rushed. Reward yourself for every little bit of progress, factor in time for other things and time when you don’t feel like decluttering. Keep calm, stay focused on the end goal and pick away at your clutter, little by little. When decluttering feels scary, overwhelming and daunting, try slow decluttering.

11. Get into the decluttering mindset

All the tips in this article I think are important, but this last tip is probably the most important of all! Mindset is key to everything we do in life and decluttering is no exception. Think back to the top of this article where I mentioned all the decluttering problems we can face when clearing our clutter? Well, a decluttering mindset can help you overcome many, if not all, of these. Face your concerns head on, get clear on why you want to declutter and commit to being open-minded about the challenges you’ll face and what solutions you’ll need to find to get clutter-free.

I’m not going to say it’s easy but from my own personal experience, I believe decluttering is something worth trying – for more ease, less stress and more living life to the full. However, switching into that decluttering mindset can be tough. You might have to deal with hoarding tendencies, an addiction to shopping, grief and fear of letting go, the removal of clutter which has acted as a security blanket to comfort you from the challenges of life. Slow decluttering helps you take time to work through your feelings and thoughts, to shift your thinking patterns and behaviours and find the courage to try something new.


If you struggle with decluttering for whatever reason, I hope this article has given you some ideas. There are many benefits to decluttering slowly and deliberately taking your time to really look at your stuff and your approach to dealing with that stuff.

I’ve found that decluttering sentimental items slowly has been really helpful to me recently. I’ve had time to say my goodbyes to things I don’t want to keep whilst honouring the memories these items hold. I’ve really been able to work out what I want to keep and what I’m happy to let go of.

How would slow decluttering benefit you? Have you noticed a difference in your stress or anxiety levels when you declutter slowly and take your time? I’d love to hear from you if you have any thoughts to share so please leave a comment below!


Here are some more articles on decluttering which you might find helpful:


If decluttering fast and decluttering slow still feels too difficult, then take heart as you’re not alone! Even just the thought of clearing our stuff can be daunting enough. I’ve heard from so many of you that decluttering your home is what you want to do, but time, energy, family and just knowing where and how to start, make it difficult to begin.

That’s why I created Simplify Your Home. A guide, workbook and checklists to help you declutter your home and keep that clutter away. Simple, practical steps and easy-to-follow advice will help you get to the root of why you have clutter and how to keep it away for the long-term.

Learn more about Simplify Your Home and see if it’s something that might help you.

Diane Mortimer

Monday 5th of June 2023

I found this article really helpful as I suffer from bi polar and think it is less stressful to me to declutter slowly as it can affect my anxiety if I declutter too quickly. Also I'm having trouble with my sleep at the momentmand this has an impact on my energy levels.

Balance Through Simplicity

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Hi Diane, I'm so pleased you found the article helpful. Decluttering is as much learning about ourselves and how we work as it is about getting rid of stuff. I wish you the very best of luck and hope that decluttering slowly will help ease the stress and anxiety. Take care and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Paul Goeller

Monday 5th of June 2023

Apparently I have adopted slow decluttering without realizing it. I'm 81 and my spouse will be 92 soon. One of the "tricks" I have started to use was to declutter one item from each room that has a trash can - every trash pick up day. So we have 4 trashcans that need to be emptied twice per week. That makes 8 items each week that get "decluttered" (either trashed or put in a to be donated box). Seems like just a little but if you do the math that is over 400 items per year. In actuality I usually can find more than one item so I'm thinking in one year our home will be around a 1,000 items "lighter."

Balance Through Simplicity

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Hi Paul, thank you for sharing your ideas. That's a great way to declutter! It may take a bit of trial and error but the trick is to find what works for you. Best wishes, Antonia


Monday 5th of June 2023

Thank you for this article. I have spent many years gathering my stuff and it feels hard at times parting with it. I have watched many different decluttering channels and learn something from each one that works for me. I appreciate your slower process ideas and tips.

Balance Through Simplicity

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Hi Kristi, I agree, it does feel hard to part with things. Whilst I've found having less stuff in my home to be a benefit, I understand that's not the same for everyone so a slower approach helps us feel our way gently! Thank you for your comment!