Avoid These 6 Decluttering Mistakes

Jon Fesmire |

We live in a consumer society, which has its pros and its cons. On the pro side, we get to pursue our interests, and there’s something for everyone.

Consumerism keeps our economy moving, which allows us all to make and spend money. We have a lot of choices for what entertainment to enjoy, what food to eat, what to decorate our homes with, what to read, and so much more.

On the con side, it also means we accumulate stuff.

While we keep and enjoy much of it, there’s also plenty of things we’ll grow out of.

That’s here decluttering comes in. Periodically, go through your stuff and get rid of what you no longer need. In theory, this sounds easy, but there are various pitfalls.

You’ll rarely do anything perfectly the first time you try it, and that goes for decluttering. So, let’s go over what we see as the biggest decluttering mistakes and how to avoid them. We hope these tips will help you learn to declutter better.

Common Mistake 1: Organizing First

You’ll want to declutter before you begin organizing your belongings.

What do we mean by decluttering? We mean selling, donating, recycling, and then throwing out what you don’t need (in that order).

Do this before you organize and you won’t waste time looking for room for things you should have let go of.

Once you’ve sold, donated, recycled, or thrown out what you don’t need, organizing will be much easier.

Common Mistake 2: Keeping Too Much

This is tough! As you go through your things, you’ll find that you have fond memories associated with certain items, however mundane they may be.

You’ll need to be critical of all your things. If you don’t have a reason to use something now or within a few months, you probably won’t need it in the future.

You can make an exception for seasonal items, like surfboards, skis, and your off-season wardrobe, because these are things you’ll use when the right time of year rolls around. If you haven’t worn a certain item of clothing in six months to a year, or you never use that old set of silverware, you can get rid of it.

Common Mistake 3: Sorting an Entire Room at Once

You’ve decided to declutter and to start with your bedroom. You put everything in piles on and around the bed and then you feel overwhelmed. There’s just too much there to deal with, and you put everything back away because decluttering is too hard.

Instead, take one part of a room at a time, preferably a section with similar items. Go through your dresser drawers one at a time. Get rid of pairs of socks you never wear (and definitely get rid of single socks with no matches). In the closet, tackle one shelf at a time. Do the same with your bookcase.

By going through a set of similar items, then another, it will be much easier to find what you don’t need and to set those things aside.

Common Mistake 4: Keeping Boxes of Clutter at Home

As you declutter, put the things you’re going to let go of in boxes, but don’t keep those boxes at home for long. If you leave them sitting in a corner, you, or even other family members, may feel tempted to go back through the boxes and take things out.

When you declutter, it’s a good idea to trust your instincts. After you’ve filled a few boxes, get rid of the stuff. Donate it to a thrift store, recycle things you can’t donate, and throw out the rest.

Common Mistake 5: Trying to Sell Too Much

Yes, you can sell things you’ve decluttered. However, realize that you’ll have to put the work into creating listings on OfferUp, eBay, Craigslist, or elsewhere. Many of those things won’t sell or won’t bring in enough money to be worth the effort.

If you have things you don’t need but are really worth something, by all means, sell those.

However, be picky about what you sell. Give away other gently used items, recycle things you can’t give away, and throw out the real junk. Oh yes, and keep in mind that when you donate to charity, you can deduct the value of your contributions from your taxes, so even donating items is a way to save money.

Common Mistake 6: Buying New Stuff Right Away

Getting rid of a bunch of stuff, even stuff you know you don’t need can bring up anxiety. You may have the urge to fill up your home again with new stuff. All that’s going to do is leave you where you started, with clutter and more than you need.

Now, if you have decided to declutter in part to make room for something important, then by all means, get what you need. Maybe you’ve helped your kids clear out old toys, and that’s meant to make room for their Christmas presents. Decluttering is about simplifying your life, so, unless you need some new stuff, avoid new purchases. You’ll ensure the need to declutter again sooner.

If you need a self storage unit, decluttering first is also important. You’ll then store things you actually need, like off-season clothing and sports equipment, sales inventory, and the like.

Check our listings for storage near you.