In this post: You’re sick and tired of the clutter, I get it. It may be tempting to declutter fast, but here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t.
When I first started decluttering 5 years ago, my house was a mess.
Dishes piled up in the sink and covered every spot of counter space. Every horizontal surface was covered with books, papers and waiting to be paid bills. Dog fur rolled across the floor like tumbleweeds in the Wild West.
To say that my home was a little dirty would be an understatement. It was a MESS.
I knew I had to do something. So I read every book about decluttering, watched tons of before and after videos and tried out multiple systems…but nothing worked.
I was crushed.
I just didn’t understand why so many people were finding success and I was still straining to remember to put the wet laundry into the drier before it started to stink.
So many books and blog posts promise to teach you how to declutter fast. Just a quick search on Google or Pinterest and you’ll find people telling you that you can declutter your home in 30 days, a week or even a day.
I’m here to tell you: if you can declutter your home in one day…you don’t have a cluttered home. 😂
The good new is it’s not your fault. Our modern society is filled with “quick-fix” solutions that never quite pan out…but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
While you might feel sad that you can’t declutter your home quickly, I’m here to show you why you shouldn’t.
There are so many benefits to taking your time in the decluttering process. Let me share with you 5 reasons you shouldn’t declutter fast.
There’s a Difference Between Having Clutter and Struggling with Clutter
The problem with most the advice most decluttering expert give is that they’re only talking to people who simply have a bit of clutter.
You know, they had a baby or got injured at work and things grew out of control. After a while, they adjusted to their new normal and were able to pound through getting the house back in order.
I’m not one of those people. And odds are, if those decluttering methods failed you, you’re not one of them either.
The issue is not that we have a bit of clutter. The issue is that we struggle with clutter. And it’s the struggle that makes a huge difference in how you declutter.
Let’s face it: decluttering is not rocket science. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to get rid of clutter.
You either need it or you don’t. Simple, right? No. It is absolutely positively NOT simple for people who struggle with clutter.
Because when you struggle to clear clutter, there are usually deep-seated emotions behind it.
Here are just a couple of the reasons we keep clutter:
- Giving up a dream (i.e. kids grew up and no longer play with baby toys, giving up a hobby you thought you would love, etc.)
- Difficulty making decisions (fear of making the wrong choice)
- Overthinking (spending more time thinking than acting)
Even after all my years of decluttering, I still have knitting needles even though I haven’t knitted in 5 years. I have all my snowboarding gear even though we live in a place with no snow and no hills. And I still keep my gardening equipment, even though the spiders around here are way too big for me to attempt gardening.
It’s hard to get rid of these things because they have such a large emotional component. They’re not sentimental items, per say. But getting rid of them make it feel like I’m giving up on those dreams.
And some dreams I’m just not ready to give up on, and so I keep the stuff.
But here’s the thing. If you get rid of something and decide years down the road you want to do that thing again, you can always buy it.
And most likely, you’ll be glad you didn’t keep the stuff around for 30 years while it grew dusty, moldy and became a nice hiding spot for critters.
The point is that as you declutter, be aware of your emotions. Be conscious of the times you’re keeping something just because you struggle with making the decision.
By becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings, this can help you to ask yourself logical questions and make logical decisions.
It’s in the Struggle That We Grow
We all want to take the easy path. We all wish we could snap our fingers and have our lives be better in an instant.
There’s a dark side of this culture of instant gratification. Many contestants from NBC’s hit TV show, “The Biggest Loser” regain the weight they lost during the competition (and may have even permanently damaged their metabolism).
This is because when we try to make things happen as quickly as possible, we often let every other area of our lives fall by the wayside.
It may be tempting to call up a local professional organizer and have them come in and do the work for you. There are times when their serves are greatly needed, like decluttering the home of a loved one who has passed.
But when it comes to decluttering your own home, I’m an ardent believe that you should do it yourself and that you shouldn’t do it fast.
That’s because there are many things to learn in the struggle. Just like the old saying, “struggle builds character.”
When you face something challenging, you are forced to become a better version of yourself.
Decluttering stinks. I don’t know anyone who bounds out of bed on a Saturday morning eager to declutter the home office.
But in the process of doing something hard, you grow into a better person and these skills can affect other areas of your life.
You Stop Buying So Much Stuff
When you declutter fast, you can often go into a focused state where you don’t pay attention to all of the things you’re throwing out and donating. You end up being a decluttering robot, just focused on getting the job done.
And this is a bad thing.
Because when you take your time to go through clutter, you let it sink in all of the things you’ve bought and never used.
Don’t feel any shame about it. What’s done is done.
But you do want to take notice of what you bought so that you can make better buying decisions in the future.
This is the biggest decluttering myth:
Decluttering is not only about what goes out —
It’s also about what comes in.
So often, when people talk about decluttering, they only discuss the phase where you get rid of stuff.
But here’s the thing: if you don’t address why you accumulated clutter in the first place, you’ll declutter…only to find yourself in a mess months later.
I’m not saying that you should take years to declutter. It took me about 4 years to go through the bulk of my clutter…but I also started at hoarder(ish) levels and had an extreme amount of emotional attachment to overcome. (Oh, and we had two babies along the way. 👶)
Declutter slow enough so you can be aware of all the things you’re getting rid of. This will help you make better decisions when it comes to buying things in the future.
Decluttering Fast Doesn’t Allow Time to Build Habits
And this 👆 is probably the best reason you shouldn’t declutter fast.
It takes time to build habits, y’all. The bad news is that your messy habits are the reason you accumulated clutter in the first place.
The good news is that habits can change. You can become the type of person you desire to be, just by changing one habit at a time.
And in this culture that glories instant gratification, usually the big change of habits get all the love and attention.
We love seeing people who lost 100 pounds in 7 months, trained for a marathon in 4 months or made a profitable business right out of the gate.
But then we wonder why we can’t do that in our own lives. We often write it off as “I just don’t have much willpower.”
And yet, we can make so much progress in any area of our lives if we widen the timeline.
You’d be surprised by how much you can accomplish if you set out to declutter for 15 minutes every day (or most days). Sure, it might take you a couple of years instead of doing it in a couple of weeks, but here’s why you should do that.
When you declutter a little bit at a time, you let yourself get accustomed to a new level. You learn the maintenance habits it takes to keep your home at that level.
I have learned that while I don’t like cleaning, I like having a clean home. And the habits that I’ve learned slowly over time are the reasons why my home stays relatively clean.
If you had taken me at the beginning of my decluttering journey and plopped me into a pristine and tidy home…I would’ve had it looking like junk in a few months.
Here are common habits that cause a messy house:
- Procrastination: “I’m too tired, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
- Emotional attachment to clutter: “But what if I need it?”
- Overthinking: “I can’t work on that until I have this other thing, but I won’t get that other thing until I do this third thing…”
- Making everything into a project: “I only have 15 minutes now, so I can’t even start on that because it’ll take an hour.”
Here are some habits you may learn during the process of decluttering:
- Letting go: “It’s okay if I need to rebuy one or two things if it means I got rid of 100 other things.”
- Doing it right now, like seeing something you don’t need an immediately taking it over to a donation box.
- Realizing that you gain clarity through action, not from thinking…and thinking…and thinking. 😉
When you declutter fast, you’re just treating the symptoms of the messy house (getting rid of the clutter) and not the cause (years or decades of habits that encourage clutter to accumulate).
Decluttering is Like a Muscle
Decluttering is like a muscle. You wouldn’t expect to go to the gym once and leave ripped. It takes time, consistency and hard work to build up muscles.
The same is true with decluttering. If you have an emotional attachment to clutter, don’t expect to declutter once and be done with it for the rest of your life.
So many decluttering experts talk about decluttering like it’s a one-time project and I think that’s really damaging to people, like me, who have a deep emotional attachment to clutter.
If you’ve decluttered before only to have found yourself in a messy house months later, don’t shame yourself. You’re not alone.
This is a process. And guess what? The more you declutter, the easier it becomes.
This is partially due to the fact that you learn to love a cleaner home, and that becomes your new standard.
Let’s say you start with something small, like clearing off your coffee table. You take the piles of old magazines and newspapers and donate them. You find a new spot for the remote and throw out the trash that had been left there.
After a long day, you flop down on the couch and are so stinking pleased you have a place to put up your feet and hold your drink.
When clutter starts to accumulate on the coffee table again, it urks you, unlike before. So rather than just letting things pile up into a big mess, you take care of things when it’s only a couple of things.
And the more you get used to cleaning up the coffee table, the more it becomes a habit and you don’t even have to think about it.
Whereas before, you would’ve had to schedule a date and put an alarm on your phone to remember to clean up the coffee table, now that it’s a habit, you do it without thinking twice.
And That’s Why You Shouldn’t Declutter Fast
I want yout to know that if you’re struggling with clutter, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
You are worthy because you are worthy. You don’t have to have a clean home to prove your worth. You are worthy just as you are.
Give yourself grace. A lot of times, we accumulate clutter because of a busy or chaotic season of life or simply because we were never taught any better.
Here are some articles that can help you kick start your decluttering journey:
- This is the best decluttering checklist to crush overwhelm
- 5 awesome tips to declutter your life
- How to declutter when you’re overwhelmed by a messy house