5 Mistakes People Make When Decluttering a Home

Let’s talk about 5 mistakes people make when decluttering a home. Mistakes I have made myself over the years that kept me messy and drowning in too much stuff for a long time.

While learning how to declutter your home, be sure you are doing things the right way.

5 clutter mistakes and how to avoid them

When I first started my decluttering journey, I did some things right and some things not so right. I hope this list will help you to get back on track by knowing what not to do and getting your home clutter-free for good.

Learn from others’ mistakes.

It’s something I heard many times growing up. But learning from mistakes that others make when it comes to decluttering can be life-changing and home-transforming.

When I first started decluttering my home, I was flying by the seat of my pants. Trying to figure it all out as I went along because I did not have a plan of what to do or even what not to do. I was frustrated, overwhelmed, and completely lost in the piles of stuff that seemed to be growing instead of shrinking.

woman sitting on the floor of a cluttered family room frustrated from mistakes

The more I worked to declutter the worse things got in my home.

The crazy thing was, I had no idea why. I thought I was doing things right, but I wasn’t. I was making some huge clutter mistakes. Mistakes that were slowing me down and making things worse rather than better.

Let’s tackle these mistakes one at a time and give you a better approach to removing the mess and creating a home you love.

Mistakes People Make When Decluttering a Home

I love working in small batches, and this list is set up in the same way. Work on one issue at a time and watch your messiness evaporate!

Mistake #1. Going All in Without a Plan

Many times we declutter on a whim. One day we are in a room, probably looking for something we cannot find, and we throw up our hands, shouting, “That’s it!”. We start tackling piles and boxes and papers and bags. Before we know it, we are knee-deep in an even bigger mess trying our best to clean things out.

I learned that having a plan is crucial to making progress, and making progress is the magic word that keeps the overwhelm away.

When you make a plan, you create a guide that you can follow. A step-by-step decluttering approach that will have you removing the stuff instead of moving the stuff and getting lost in the mess.

Bottom Line: Take just a few minutes to make a game plan for the room you hope to work in. Write that plan down and refer to it before you get in and go to work. Remember to include a list of tasks, a time frame to get things done, and block out work times every day to make progress like never before.

READ: 3 Steps to Take Before Decluttering Your Home

Mistake #2. Losing focus and getting distracted.

This is a big decluttering mistake I am guilty of making myself. Does this sound like you? You start out in one area working to remove the clutter only to find yourself in a completely different room doing a completely different task, not even knowing how you got there.

woman looking into a cluttered fridge

Yes, the clutter struggle is real. It’s easy to get distracted especially when we are doing something we probably are not too excited to do. And the more we can set ourselves up for success, the more we will be able to get done.

You can do this by keeping your focus on what you are doing while keeping away any outside distractions at the same time. This can be huge when decluttering. You can use a few of these tips to help keep that focus and energy right where it needs to be.

Easier Decluttering Tips:

  • Set a timer so you know just how long you have to work, and you are not tempted to waste any time. Nothing is quite as motivating as a ticking clock urging you to get as much done as possible.
  • Alert your family. Let your family know you are working on a project, and leave you alone for just 20 minutes. If you have younger children, this might not be an option, so maybe do your work session during nap time instead.
  • Silence your phone. Nothing can stop us more quickly than a text or phone call. Turn your phone to silent for the next 20 minutes so you can really get busy without worrying about an interruption.
  • Wear headphones. A playlist of 5 songs on your phone will give you 20 uninterrupted minutes of decluttering time. You might be surprised at how much you can do in 20 focused minutes.
  • Listen to a book. Audiobooks are my go-to for decluttering, cleaning, and even weeding my garden. Any time I can get lost in a book while I am doing something that isn’t that enjoyable is a great motivator to keep me in and busy.

Bottom Line: Keep the outside distractions at bay and get more done in much less time. This will help you to really make progress even when you only have 20 minutes to work.

Mistake #3. Not getting the stuff out of the house.

Many times when we declutter, we make piles of things that need to leave the house. We usually stack them in a corner, telling ourselves we will take them the next time we are out. The problem is that when those boxes and bags stay in the home, they risk getting buried by other stuff.

Instead, take any boxes or bags all the way out to your car and right then set a reminder on your phone to drop them off the very next time you are out.

boxes and toys in a trunk ready for donation

Bottom Line: Relocating our things is not decluttering. Get that clutter and extra stuff out of your house as soon as possible.

Mistake #4. Thinking big only

This might be the most common mistake people make when decluttering their homes. We tend to have this “all or nothing” attitude and only see the whole picture with a project like this. The thought of one clutter-free and organized drawer in the sea of a messy dresser might be less than you hoped.

Over the years, I have learned that minutes are more important than hours when cleaning out a space. By taking a huge project and breaking it down into 10 minutes tasks, you will be able to get more done without any of the clutter overwhelm and make progress like never before.

Each day make a plan to work for 10 minutes on a cluttered space in your home. A drawer, a shelf in your pantry, a coffee table in your family room, a corner in your bedroom. What now seems like a little will build like a snowball rolling down a hill. And before you know it, you will begin to see your home take shape.

Bottom Line: Think small and get big results. Make a goal of 10 minutes working in a space every single day and see results like never before.

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Mistake #5. Keeping bad clutter habits.

Most people work so hard to remove the clutter, and once they are done, they believe things will stay neat and tidy forever and ever. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works. When I finally cleaned out my first room, I was so proud of my results. I finally did it! And I remember patting myself on the back for a job well done.

Then life happened. I got busy and distracted, and before I knew it, that same room was cluttered up once again.

If you do not have a plan to keep things from getting messy all over again, you might find yourself doing the same project in a few short months. This is a step that most people skip over. The step that will help you to keep things put away and clutter-free forever.

Put your things all the way away.

When you adopt this one simple habit, you will not only see your room stay neater but the rest of your house will begin to transform before your eyes. That’s because, more often than not, clutter is simply things in our home that were not put away.

Just think, if we were to put our things, every single one of them, all the way away, then our counters would be cleaned off. Our kitchen table would be ready for dinner. Our furniture would be waiting for us to sit on and enjoy.

Bottom Line: Every time you are done using something, be sure to put it all the way away.

Learning from mistakes, whether ours or someone else’s, can be huge when working to create a home we love. Now that you know my top 5 Mistakes People Make When Decluttering a Home, I hope you will find more success the next time you dive in. 

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  1. Wow, I sure can identify! LOL 🙂 I’m currently digging my way through the basement and 20years of stuff and feeling grateful for all your encouragement and direction. Thanks!!

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