16 decluttering hurdles and how to reframe them

Decluttering hurdle - a woman clears a hurdle on a running track

Decluttering Hurdle #1: It cost me money.

Reframe 1. Some things cost way more when we keep them. Storage (both in metres squared and in products), lost opportunities and repurchasing things due to domestic chaos – can add up to throwing good money after bad.

Reframe 2. You can’t change the past, you can only change the future – and that includes improving your space.

Reframe 3. When you bought The Thing, you chose it over the money. Now you are choosing your space over The Thing.

Decluttering Hurdle #2: I don’t want it to go to landfill.

Reframe 1. If it’s donatable or recyclable, it won’t go to landfill.

Reframe 2. If The Thing is truly landfill, you can’t change that. But you DO get to decide – do you want to live with the landfill in your house, or not?

Decluttering Hurdle #3: I may need it someday.

Reframe 1. Will you though?

Reframe 2. See #1. Storing this stuff costs you money. It may be cheaper to donate and repurchase.

Reframe 3. Set it free in the community (charity shop, Buy Nothing networks, etc) so that someone else can use it. If you need one in years to come, ask the community to provide. Let the community store it for you.

Reframe 4. Perhaps your just-in-case clutter is preventing you from finding and using things you need TODAY. And that is a poor deal.

Decluttering Hurdle #4: Someone else I know may need it someday.

Reframe 1. As per points in #3.

Reframe 2. Your friends and family love you for you, not for the just-in-case items in your home.

Decluttering Hurdle #5: It was a gift to me.

Reframe 1. The purpose of the gift was to show thought and love from the giver to you. That was achieved when The Thing was handed over. 

Reframe 2. The giver would not want you to feel burdened or tormented. Let it go.

Decluttering Hurdle #6: I might miss it.

Reframe 1. Play the imaginary scene right through. What next? I’ll bet everything turns out OK. You miss it, then you get on with your day. You are stronger than your stuff. 

Decluttering Hurdle #7: Decluttering is hard work.

Reframe 1. So is spending an hour a day rummaging in clutter, looking for what you need. So is repurchasing things you know you own. So is stepping over piles of clutter to function in your home. So is making a meal on a cluttered bench top. So is moving clutter around to different rooms to do daily tasks, or have guests. Think long-term.

Reframe 2. Yes, but it’s so worth it.

Decluttering Hurdle #8: Decluttering is stressful.

Reframe 1. Not as stressful as living in clutter. Studies show an elevation of the stress hormone cortisol in people living in cluttered environments.

Reframe 2. Yes, but it’s so worth it.

Decluttering Hurdle #9: It’s not even my stuff.

Reframe 1. If someone doesn’t live with you, neither should their stuff. Your home is not a storage facility.

Reframe 2. If the owner of the clutter lives with you, there are still things you can do. Often people who say this, still have a lot of clutter of their own. Start with your own stuff. Also, have boundaries around shared spaces.

Decluttering Hurdle #10: I just need more storage, and to get organised.

Reframe 1. Storage is expensive (both in space and in storage/organising ‘solutions’) – is your clutter really worth it?

Reframe 2. Stop trying to store and organise your clutter, and get rid of it. 

Decluttering Hurdle #11: I just need to get motivated.

Reframe 1. Block out some time, take a deep breath and get to it. Good habits and discipline eat motivation for breakfast.

Decluttering Hurdle #12: The clutter keeps coming in. I give up.

Reframe 1. There are ways to slow it and even stop it. Get away from consumerism and keeping up with the Jones’.

Decluttering Hurdle #13: I don’t have time.

Reframe 1. Do you have time to lose important items amidst your clutter? Do you have time to get dressed out of a chaotic wardrobe? Do you have time to move everything off your dining table whenever you want to have a meal? To shift your clutter into different rooms to try and ‘create space’? To clear surfaces every time guests or the cleaner is coming over? Your clutter is already eroding your time every day – it’s time to stop it.

Reframe 2. Start small. Have 10 minutes? Do your sock drawer. An hour? Go through your books and pluck out some donations.

Decluttering Hurdle #14: The Thing belonged to someone who died.

Reframe 1. It’s sad that they died, but donating their belongings does not need to be.

Reframe 2. What would that person say about you being burdened by their stuff? I’ll bet they would want you to be happy.

Reframe 3. The person does not reside in their stuff but in your memories. 

Reframe 4. Remember – you don’t have to get rid of everything. If you think an item strongly represents a dearly departed, it’s OK to keep it. Decluttering is about prioritising what’s important, not removing everything.

Decluttering Hurdle #15: It doesn’t fit me, but it will.

Reframe 1. How long have you been saying this?

Reframe 2. Often the cost of definitely keeping it is higher than the cost of maybe replacing it.

Reframe 3. Will you really want your stretched Kmart underwear if you lose weight? Or your 20-year-old jeans that are out of style? Chances are, you will relish the opportunity to get a few new garments. If you are worried about waste, donate to a charity shop and re-purchase from a charity shop.

Decluttering Hurdle #16: I don’t know what to do with it all.

Reframe 1. There is a lot of info online. Check out our post here on where to donate and recycle.  

Reframe 2. Be gentle with yourself. If you are overwhelmed, you need to pick your battles. You can’t save the world before you save yourself. You may not be the model recycler this time but once you get sorted, you can look at best practices.

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