8 Clutter Mistakes and How to Overcome Them

When working to keep an home that is less messy, it is important to keep the extra stuff out. And for some folks that is easy to do and for others, folks like us, well it’s another thing entirely. Today we are going to talk about clutter mistakes and how to overcome them in the hopes that you will find it a bit easier to keep you home less messy.

When learning how to declutter, mistakes matter. Let’s keep them away and an neater home when we do.

clutter mistakes and how to overcome them

Whoever said decluttering was easy has never been faced with a room full of stuff. I am talking so full opening the door is almost impossible. And if we are being completely honest, if you are here you know just what I am talking about.

A junk room.

We all have one. A room where we toss and run. And sure, maybe your room isn’t a room at all but instead, it is a closet, or a drawer, or that creepy area below your bed that may hold things you are just not ready to face yet.

And whether or not you have one space that is full of things or multiple spaces, an easy decluttering project is not how you would ever describe it.

Maybe that is why it can be so frustrating looking for clutter answers online.

Because online, people tell you that you CAN clean that space out in only a few hours. Or you CAN declutter your entire home in a weekend. And maybe instead of finding answers, you are only finding frustration because they don’t get it. They don’t get you.

But I do get it. And I do get you because I used to be you.

I not only had a junk drawer, but I had a junk room, a junk basement, and even a junk attic.

A very cluttered craft room with white walls and a wooden shelf holding paint bottles.


I had enough junk to fill a semi, and I actually paid for a storage unit for all that stuff. In my head, however, I thought everything was fine. As long as I could shut the door, I was okay. If I didn’t have to see it, I never had to deal with it.

Just a-okay, no matter what I felt like inside. Like a failure.

And even though I did have to hit rock bottom to make that turnaround. To finally realize I had dug myself into a hole and enough was enough. That doesn’t mean everyone needs a rock bottom to change.

You just need guidance.

A “what to do and a what not to do” path that will keep you from zigging and zagging and instead march yourself right down from a cluttered mess to actually creating a home you love.

White kitchen cabinet shelves holding pink, baby blue, and green dishes.

That is what we are going to talk about today.

How to stop zigging and zagging so you can make progress.

This is your what NOT to do and what to do instead list. Your checklist of things to avoid and how to make that shift so instead of taking one step forward and three steps back, you are just moving forward, so you keep making progress on creating a home of your dreams. A home you deserve.

Clutter Mistakes and How to Overcome Them

Tackle these one at a time and watch your home transform before your eyes. When you are done, start including a few clutter-free habits and really create a home you love!

Mistake # 1. Not Getting Rid of Things

This is by far the biggest mistake folks make when decluttering. Instead of removing, they are moving. Getting the clutter out only to put it somewhere else. And that is not going to create a home you love

Instead: As soon as you fill a box or a bag or a tote, take it right to your car and tuck it safely inside. Then the next time you are out, you can drop those boxes and bags off at the local donation center.

Mistake number one avoided. Incredible decluttering progress made.

Mistake #2.  Keeping it Because You Can

I don’t think there is anything more tempting or confusing than an empty drawer. We are just called to put things inside whether we need those things or not. And that can really stall us when we are trying to declutter. We feel that if we have room for our things, it is okay to keep all our things. Whether we need those things or not. This only leads to overstuffed drawers and cabinets, making the inside a cluttered and unorganized mess.

Instead: Keep only what you need. Even though you may have room for 15 coffee mugs, realistically, you only need 6-8. By paring down, you will have a cabinet that is neat, tidy, and so easy to keep it that way.

before after measuring cups in kitchen

Mistake #3.  Doing it Alone

Decluttering is hard. I know this from experience, and decluttering alone is even harder. You need a buddy, someone you can vent to when things get frustrating, someone to lean on when things look impossible, and someone to help when things get hard.

Instead:  Find a friend or family member you can ask to help. Offer them a dinner out in exchange, and turn this into a partnership that will help you make progress.

No friend to ask? How about an army of friends? Find the support and encouragement you need in my FREE Facebook group. Declutter and Simplify your way to a home you love. JOIN HERE

Mistake #4.  Not Being Prepared

It’s funny. As you look at your clutter room, you think it just can’t get any worse. Oh, but it can. And it will. When you are decluttering anything, things always get worse before they get better.

Instead:  Prepare yourself for a temporary bigger mess as you work your way through the mess. Knowing what is coming makes it easier to handle when it comes. But also know this setback is normal and part of the process and, yes, only temporary. With every bag and box you fill and remove, you will take huge steps toward a cleaned-out room.

Mistake #5. Thinking Big

It can be so hard to not look at the big picture, but this is imperative when decluttering. This is especially true when you are just starting out. We tend to say I am going to declutter this entire house. And this can be the worst thing you can say. Looking at the entire project instead of the little ones you will make to get there.

Instead:  Baby steps are your friend here. What I mean by that is, instead of looking at your entire home or even the entire room as your decluttering goal instead, look smaller. Say, today, I am going to get rid of the clutter on that table. Or I am going to remove the extra stuff from this corner.

Don’t underestimate the power of a small win. These are things you can build on. As your small decluttering accomplishments pile up, you will find begin to see large victories as you make your way through your room.

Mistake #6  Not Having a Purpose for Your Room

It can be easy to look at our rooms in our home as just that, rooms. Places in our home to hold our things with no rhyme or reason. Sure, we may have an idea of what happens where, but maybe being just a little more specific can give you the direction you need to make progress.

A women with curly brown hair, grey shirt, and striped apron, tossing a salad in her kitchen.

Instead: Give a specific purpose to each room in your home. This will help you to decide just exactly what items can stay and what needs to go. And when you do this it is incredibly freeing. It takes the decision-making process off of your shoulders and helps remove some of the overwhelm that can come with a project like this.

Tools found in the kitchen can be put into the garage because that is where you use them for household projects. Toys belong in the playroom because that is where the kids play with them. Pens, pencils, paper all belong in the office because that is where you use them. Let the purpose of each room help you move the items in your home to where they belong.

Mistake #7. Not Having a Plan

It can be easy to think that all you just need is a handful of bags to clean out a room. That all you need to do is grab things, toss, and go. No more tools are necessary. No plan is needed. No list of what to do first, second, third.

Instead: Gather up the supplies you need and the tools that will make this project easier to do. While you are at it, set up a sorting area so you can make the decision process easier. And finally, know where your clutter is ready to go and know where you can donate clothes, toys, furniture, and linens. Where you can recycle electronics, appliances, and metal. Do your homework before you dive in so you can do more without getting sidetracked.

Mistake #8.  Not Asking the Right Questions

Normally when we declutter, we do the same things in the same order.

  • We pick up an item.
  • We ask ourselves if we can get rid of that item.
  • We may even ask how much we paid for that item.

And just like that, the decision is a resounding NO, and the item gets dropped into the keep pile, and we move on to the next item and start all over again.

an organized drawer in a kitchen of measuring cups and spoons

Instead: Ask yourself a new set of questions.

  • If I was at a store, would this be something I would buy right now?
  • If I could only keep ten items in my home, would this item be one of them?
  • If this item something I use on a regular basis?

The thing is, you will not be wasting when you remove an item. The money was spent when you bought it, and that item is no longer connected to that same price tag. By decluttering, you are not losing or wasting money; you are creating space. Room to breathe. A place to make memories that can last a lifetime.

And that right there is priceless.

Now that you know what not to do and what to do instead, you are set to tackle your first space. But first, let’s cover a Few Crucial Steps to do Before you Declutter.

Craftroom with blue and white walls, with a white 4x2 square shelf, brown rocking chair, and a potted tree.

JUNK  (craft) ROOM AFTER!!

I hope this list of clutter mistakes and how to overcome them helps you to keep the messes from taking over your home.

Remember, progress, no matter how small, is huge when working to create a home you love. Keep at it; I know you can do it!

More Clutter Resources:


  1. Thank you, you’re always so helpful. Hubby had to go out of state since our son in law passed away. I’m keeping busy at home picking up ,decluttering & cleaning our living room, kitchen & schoolway with the kids help. I already have a tote to donate.

  2. My biggest hang up when I declutter is not knowing what to do with it. For instance, I have a box full of stuff from different places we’ve been. It carries memories for my family, but I have no clue what to do with it or where to put it.

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