Do you get overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering? Do you find it difficult to purge personal belongings—even when you really want to clean up and organize? That’s because, for some people, decluttering is more than just an organizational task—it can become an emotional one. I hear several common excuses for not decluttering. When I hear them, it’s immediately obvious that the declutterer-in-question needs a little emotional and mental prepping to get them in the right mindset.

What if I need it later?

This one is common when two households merge into one. Suddenly, it seems prudent to hold on to that second potato masher or toaster oven for the day when something happens to the first one. Lots of people have these tendencies because they were taught “waste not, want not” by earlier generations that lived through hard times. This results in a new generation of people who think that the broom closet is meant for filling to the brim with plastic grocery bags.

The truth is, we live in a time of abundance, and goods are way more inexpensive than they ever were in the past. Having a surplus in our homes at this point is counterproductive. Our homes are not meant to house a thousand grocery bags or an entire second appliance store in the basement or attic.

Donate all your extras, and cross that bridge of replacing something when you need to. As for the grocery bags, stash just enough for a month-or-so supply of whatever you re-use them for, and recycle the rest! (And get some reusable grocery totes, while you’re at it!)

wife husband present

But it was a present!

When someone gives you a gift, their intention is to provide a token of affection. They want to delight you. They don’t want to burden you with objects that you might not love, that you then feel you need to keep around. Give your gifter an appreciative thank-you. Then, if you feel that deep-down nagging that you don’t really love it, return it, re-gift it, or donate it to someone who will really appreciate it.

But there just *so much stuff* to get through!

I know, I know, but Rome wasn’t built in a day! Don’t see it as a failure if you can’t transform your closet from Oscar the Grouch to Carrie Bradshaw overnight. Start small and work in manageable chunks. Pick one area, say, jeans, and do an honest assessment of all your current pairs. Once you finish, you can decide to continue on to another category, or pick it up later.

What if I regret giving something away?

I have a great trick to handle this apprehension—it’s the limbo box! Give yourself a nice big box or basket that you’ll store in an out-of-the-way place. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. Anything you’re unsure of, store it in there. Reassess in 3 to 6 months. If you’ve needed or missed an item in there, you’ve probably already fished it out. But if you haven’t thought about that stuff, it’s time to give it away.

But the memories!

It’s time to separate memories from things. A big box of ticket stubs and Playbills that you haven’t sorted in ages will only become more annoying as time goes on, not less. Honor your memories! Take digital pics of ephemera, journal about them, post them on social media, create a shadow box or frame a piece or two of really beloved pieces so that you can hang them out in the open and really appreciate them regularly. You do not need a jumble crammed into a box that you rifle through once a decade. T

And hey! The bonus is that the less clutter you have, the easier your home is to clean. Happy decluttering!

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  1. I have lived to regret giving away seemingly every object I´ve ever passed on, gifted or donated. Perhaps it belonged to an elderly relative and in a wave of nostalgia I thought about holding it in my hands one more time, perhaps it´s a book I would like to consult or maybe having that small appliance would have made the task at hand easier. Or that piece of clothing or accessory that would have matched this outfit, or perhaps I would like my daughter to have it because quality is not what it used to be.

    Nobody ever mentions it so I will break the ice and admit it. At some point, I’ve always regretted it.

    But regret is fleeting and obviously not too hard to overcome – it is, in the end, a fait accompli and it was a material object in a life mostly foreign to scarcity. I try to think of “right amount of items” according to the available space (socks must fit the drawer, kitchen gadgets and appliances and stored food must fit the kitchen cabinets, the TV and fridge and washer must fit their allowed space. When replacing one of them, the new can´t be the biggest evah… the home is still the same it was before).

    As a rule it´s not always right, however: our lives, particularly our 9yo daughter, change fast and it reflects on items around the home… but I try to adapt and not feel overwhelmed or anxious.

    Who said life is perfect?

  2. I Madhuri you can get rid of hard water stains by making a paste with baking soda and vinegar and let it stay all might on the spot. Tomorrow morning you can rinse it and it will normaly be off. If not co it again. But normaly, it is garanteed !!!!

  3. Oh, the mental torture! Getting rid of those too-tight clothes is like admitting failure and being resigned to being overweight. The guilt, the sadness, the fear, and making the tough decisions in the decluttering process is too overwhelming for me to deal with most days.

  4. Hi Melissa! I have watched various videos of yours a lot in the past and, am afraid, I strayed! I desperately need to get rid of much clutter in my house, so I’m back on track to try to declutter once again and have many piles of stuff to deal with! My biggest question and challenge is exactly what kind of storage accessories work best for what particular items/categories?? (i.e. do I put things in file folders or file boxes/bins, etc.) Any ideas you may have regarding this would be helpful! Thank you so much for your inspiration and positive attitude!

  5. I need to declutter my room. I have a lot of random paper (school stuff/notes) that I’ve just put in a couple of boxes as I’m not sure what to do with it. I did sort it out a little and threw some away. Any ideas to kind of organise it? Also organising surfaces like desk, dresser etc is difficult. I usually just throw stuff on top without really thinking about it, but then I have a pile of stuff and it’s overwhelming.


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