15 Common excuses to get past so that you can get rid of clutter.
As you look around your home, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with all the stuff, you know that you need to get rid of clutter. You want a clutter-free, welcoming, peaceful home and you want to be able to find things when you need them.
What stands between you and your goals are all the excuses that come up to prevent you from getting rid of clutter. Every time you dive in and start to declutter, the same thing happens, you pick something up, and find an excuse to keep it. It’s these excuses that bring your progress to a screeching halt.
If you really want to make progress, get super clear about your intentions for your home before you begin. If you know you need to clear out some of your clutter to get closer to your goal, Keep this bigger picture in mind when making each decision. This will help you stay grounded.
As you hold each item in your hand, take a step back, and ask yourself if this item is truly worthy of the space it will require when your space is already limited. Since keeping the item will not bring you closer to your big-picture objective is it really worth the trade-off?
Listed below are the most common excuses I hear that make it difficult to get rid of clutter:
1. “I can’t get rid of this stuff because I might use it someday”.
This is by far the #1 most often-used excuse for not getting rid of stuff. Too many things fall into this category. If you don’t know when or even if you will use an item if you keep it, it is okay to let it go. Since you are trying to declutter, you don’t have room for any questionable items that you may never use. The only exception to this rule is tiny items that take up minimal space and are expensive and/or hard to replace. Everything else can be repurchased, rented, or borrowed in the unlikely event you actually do need it down the road.
2. “I can’t get rid of this because my kids might want it”.
The fastest route to finding out if your child wants an item is to ask them. Take a photo of the item right now and send them a text. Be prepared, from my experience, parents are often surprised that their children are less interested in their things than they expected them to be. So you may be storing some things for no reason.
If your child does indeed want the item, ask them to come to pick it up or take it to them. Do not allow them to say they are not sure…or that they want you to keep it for them. Your home is not a storage facility for your child’s things that they may or may not want someday.
3. “This is a keepsake so I can’t get rid of it”.
If you struggle with sentimental items, keep in mind that material objects will never measure up to the memories that we have in our hearts. For this reason, it is okay to be selective about what you keep.
Limit how much you keep by setting parameters for yourself. Purchase a keepsake tote, and stay within that limit. Place only the most cherished keepsake items into the bins and be willing to let the rest go. You can take photos of things you are letting go of to make it easier for yourself.
4. “I don’t use this, but I paid a lot for it, so I should keep it”.
This excuse doesn’t even make sense. If you spent money on something you don’t use, the money is already wasted given that you don’t use it. Why let that item also steal precious storage space from you? What’s worse is that every time you see it, it makes you feel guilty all over again. Get rid of that thing right now.
5. “I feel guilty getting rid of this stuff because they were gifts”.
You should not feel obligated to keep gifts you do not use or want. It’s okay to let these items go to another person who will appreciate and use them. It is unlikely that the gifter will find out that you don’t have it anymore, especially if you have had the item for a while. Letting go of a gift you don’t use, does not in any way devalue the relationship you have with the gift giver.
6. “I can’t get rid of stuff that’s still in good condition”.
Another common excuse for keeping things can result from having a scarcity mindset. If you or your parents grew up during the depression era, you may have trouble shaking the urge to hold onto everything that could be useful in some way. But this mindset can add significantly to your clutter problem. You may need to push yourself not to cling too tightly to things out of the habit of being frugal. If you don’t use these items, but they are in good shape, donating them is the best option.
7. “I can’t get rid of this clutter right now because I am too busy to deal with it”.
This is procrastination clutter and an easy excuse for putting off the hard decision-making process until another day. It is easy to let other things take priority over your clutter. But, if you want to get rid of stuff, and make progress, do not put it off until tomorrow. Postponed decisions will only hang over your head. Decide to decide NOW and make decluttering a priority today.
8. “I don’t use this now, but I want to start using it someday”.
This is often called fantasy clutter. It’s the stuff that you don’t use but wish you did. Treadmills, clothes that no longer fit, and juicers might fall into this category. If you have several of these unused items cluttering up your home, it’s time to be realistic about them. Resolve to either start using the items today, or accept that they are not for you. It’s hard to let go of things that represent who you want to be, or think you should be, but not who you actually are.
9. “It’s hard to get rid of stuff that reminds me of who I used to be”.
For some of us, our memories hold so much energy that we cling tightly to them. Holding on too tightly to the things that remind us of the past can not only clutter up our homes but can keep us tethered to the past rather than living for today.
Many fear that if they let an object go, they will forget the memory associated with it as well. But this simply isn’t true, the memories of our achievements will remain in our hearts long after the trophies are gone. Resolve to live for today. Keep a limited amount of memorabilia from the past and be willing to let the rest go.
10. “This just needs to be fixed and then I can use it”.
This excuse is another roadblock to getting rid of stuff. Be realistic about how much work it will take to either fix it or have someone else fix the broken item. What you don’t want to do, is leave it sitting in your storage area for 2 years waiting to be fixed. Trust me, it happens all the time. It is okay to let it go if you don’t have the time to deal with it. If you do want to fix it and can get it done without too much effort or cost, do it now.
11.”My grandma loved this so I need to keep it”.
Keepsakes have very personal values attached to them, and just because your grandmother treasured a set of china, does not mean that you are obligated to treasure it as well. You will not dishonor your grandma by letting it go. Is it not better for that item to go to someone who will use it rather than letting it collect dust in your storage room?
12. “I can’t get rid of stuff that I might wear if I lose/gain weight”.
If you wake up tomorrow and discover that you have dropped a size overnight, would you want to put on those old clothes or celebrate by going out and buying something fresh, new, and in style? It’s okay to keep a few items of clothing as an incentive to lose weight if you want to. But get rid of the entire tote full of too-small clothing you haven’t worn in years. It’s been hogging all your closet space for long enough.
13. “I should see if my sister wants this stuff before I get rid of it”.
If getting items into the hands of a friend or family member is going to be a hassle, consider donating instead. I see too many boxes of clothing sit around for months waiting for this to happen. If you do want to get the stuff to your sister, put it in your car NOW so that you have to take it to her. Also, be sure that the receiver of your stuff really wants these items. Don’t give it to them just to get it out of your home. We don’t want to turn into clutter in your sister’s home either.
14.”I don’t need to get rid of clutter that I have plenty of room for.”
Large homes with lots of space can seem like a good thing, but they can also be dangerous. Your large unfinished basement or storage room can become the perfect place to keep everything under the sun. What you are doing, is setting yourself or your children up for a mountain of work to be done tomorrow. Don’t keep things you don’t use just because you have space for it. Deal with it now rather than later.
15. “I should sell this stuff.”
The time and effort it takes to sell certain items can become a roadblock to getting rid of them. Before you decide to sell something online, consider whether it’s worth enough money to justify all the effort it takes to get the item sold. Often, things are not worth what we think they are. Consider donating instead. You’ll get rid of it fast, and feel good about helping someone else with your good quality donation. This is a win-win if you ask me.
By repeatedly referring back to your bigger-picture goals, you won’t get sucked back into all those excuses you have for not getting rid of stuff. It also helps to consider that you likely will not miss 98% of what you get rid of.
I won’t tell you that getting rid of stuff is easy. But if you want to make progress, you’ll need to push past the fear and discomfort and just let some stuff go. And know that when tomorrow comes, the pain will be gone and your home will be clutter-free.
And trust me, it is going to feel so good tomorrow!
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