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Getting started with decluttering can feel like a super overwhelming project to take on. Especially if you’re starting at the beginning and haven’t ever gone through and decluttered before!

Is there a right way to declutter? No not really. The right way is whatever will get YOU to be the most productive with your decluttering in a way that brings you the least amount of stress.

That being said, there are certain mistakes that can be made during the decluttering process that can ultimately slow you down and stall out your progress. Sharing these mistakes below to keep in mind while you get started or while you continue on your decluttering process so you can hopefully avoid them!

Trying to tackle too much at once

Once you get in the zone it can be difficult to not feel like you want to tackle everything at one time. Trust me when I say you will likely ultimately regret that.

Decluttering can be a draining process, both physically as you move around and go through all the things, and emotionally as you work to ditch things that you might have an attachment to. It’s hard! And you don’t want to burn yourself out and never feel up for decluttering again.

Make a list of all the spaces or rooms you want to go through, and go ONE at a time. Finished with one? See how you feel before you take on another on your list.

The worst is thinking you can do it all, and then stop half way from exhaustion, leaving a tornado of clutter behind you. It can make it so much harder to get started again!

It might seem counterintuitive, but the slower you take it, the faster it will ultimately go.

Also, it can be overwhelming to even start if you are trying to do it all in one sweep! It doesn’t have to be done all at once 🙂

Not having a game plan

This goes hand in hand with the point above! Having a game plan going into your decluttering project can help with you not taking on too much, and give you an idea of what you’d like to accomplish.

Make a list of all the rooms or spaces in your home that need your attention. Start to map out where all the kept items will go. Figure out your system, more on that below.

Letting yourself get caught up in distractions

All too many times I’ve found myself decluttering one thing, and that reminds me of something I want to sort through in another room. I’ll start in the bedroom, then think of the bathroom drawer that needs to be sorted through, then that reminds me our laundry area is cluttered, then over here and there and everywhere!

What ends up happening is no space gets fully tackled, and I’ve left messes and traces of decluttering all over the place.

Focus in on one room, corner, piece of furniture, or whatever it may be, and stay put! If you’re being reminded of other things you want to do or other spaces you’d like to sort through, make a note on your phone and come back to it another time.

Starting with the hard stuff

Ultimately, this is your call, but I much prefer to start with the easier stuff to get things moving and get myself feeling motivated and on the right track!

The hardest things for me to declutter are papers, so starting out with those can be emotionally draining and I end up not really getting much done.

I prefer to start with the easy stuff to get myself going and in the decluttering headspace. Anything you recognize that is definitely trash is a good place to start in my opinion. It’s incredibly motivating to see progress right away!

Not having a system for where things will go

Not having a system in place before you get started can ultimately be a big distraction and get you out of the zone. You need to have an idea of where things will go in a few different categories: trash/recycling, keep, donate, sell.

Get yourself some boxes and trash bags and keep them close by so you are good to go once you get started!

Getting caught up in your feels

I am the most guilty of this one right here. This is why I have clutter, because I am emotionally attached to SO many objects and things and random pieces of paper. It’s hard for me to get rid of them!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I keep plenty. Probably more than I should (it’s a work in progress).

BUT I really try my hardest not to get all too caught up in the emotions of the process while going through them. It can be such a distraction, and prolong the process.

I like to remind myself that for a lot of those items, I never take the time to look through them and never even think about them when they are sitting in storage. So, will I really miss them? For a few, the answer is yes, and so I keep. But the rest I do my best to toss.

Trying to organize at the same time

In my mind, organizing and decluttering are two very different projects, and trying to take on both at one time can be an extremely time consuming process.

If you know where all the keepers will go right away, go ahead and put them away. But if you will need to organize whatever space those keepers are going to, save it for later and finish up fully decluttering first.

Having a maybe pile

It can be all too easy to not feel ready to take on certain items so you leave them in a maybe pile, but do your best to avoid this! All you’re really doing is prolonging the process and putting off decluttering you should be doing in that moment. If you have something you’re not sure if you want to keep or not, clearly you don’t feel all that strongly about it to be a definite keep, so TOSS!

Having too much to potentially sell

Although I totally encourage you to sell what you feel is of value still, especially if it helps you to declutter further in your house. But, don’t get caught up in trying to sell absolutely everything, and end up keeping more clutter than you need to in the process.

It can be an easy way just to give yourself an excuse to put off decluttering certain things, or keeping things you know you should be getting rid of! Very similar to that maybe pile.

Not regularly decluttering

I am all too guilty of this one. Clutter is sneaky, you don’t even realize piles are forming and then all the sudden you feel swallowed up by the clutter in your house.

The biggest thing you can do to help this is stop the clutter before it starts! Don’t let those little things pile up. Put things away immediately. Toss what needs to be tossed. Set aside a few minutes each day or every weekend to do a quick scan of any areas in your house where clutter might be sneaking up on you. Deal with it before it becomes an all day/week/month project again!

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