5 Tips To Overcoming Decluttering Hurdles

Couple talking about the decoration of the new home sitting on a staircase.

If like so many of us, you want to embrace the latest trend and declutter your home, good for you! Afterall, clutter is the scourge of our generation. There are countless how-to books, blogs, vlogs, and mini-series centered around the topic of decluttering. By sifting through and donating or discarding your countless items, you are able to clear much-needed space in your home, life, and mind.

There are very good reasons for this hyper-focus on clutter. For instance, living or working within a cluttered space can cause depression and can contribute to procrastination. By overloading your senses, it can also increase your stress level and this can cause a ripple effect of weight gain! 

Clutter competes for your attention both visually and mentally; this impairs our ability to focus and make decisions. Finally, as if all of this wasn’t enough motivation to clear off that kitchen counter, clutter costs you time (remember when you couldn’t find your keys?) and money (remember when that cluttered kitchen counter resulted in you ordering pizza instead of making dinner?). Getting rid of clutter helps us to lead happier lives. 

So we are all on board for decluttering, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. So what can you do if your family or co-workers are not willing to declutter?

Tip #1: 

Anyone who has experienced life with a toddler can attest to the fact that you cannot tell someone what to do. And as you can imagine, this fact does not alter with age. No matter how many times you may tell your spouse or co-worker what the benefits of decluttering are, they still may not buy in. There are many paths to the goal of a decluttered home; unfortunately, the path of informing your spouse that their items are less than desirable and therefore not worth keeping, will be a bumpy, resistant one without a doubt. In a home already bursting at the seems with stress and discomfort, the path of least resistance will be for you to “walk-the-walk”.

In other words, the best idea is for you to start the process by decluttering your own items. This can benefit you in two ways. First off, by tackling your own cluttered spaces such as your closet, drawers, or desk, you will be helping to relieve your stress level and anxiety. As we have learned, decluttering brings us peace of mind; “when the excess is gone, we can enjoy the things we truly love”. Not only that, but it is much easier to ask someone to declutter if you have already done it for yourself.

The second benefit to decluttering your own space is that your spouse or co-worker may notice the far-reaching benefits of the clean-up. Perhaps they notice that you are not as stressed, depressed or frustrated. Maybe they observe that you are able to find items much quicker than previously. If you are both trying to leave for work in the morning and you’re able to locate your keys while they search for theirs in a pile by the front door, this may have an impact. It is much better to lead by example than to badger and complain.

Tip #2:

Before you experienced that “declutter bug”, you may have been resistant to someone had they told you to throw out 60% of your coveted DVD collection. It is a good idea to keep this in mind when you are asking your spouse or co-worker to toss out their collection of black markers. Compassion, empathy and understanding go a long way towards a smooth transition to a decluttered home.

Although it is glib to claim that clutter is an indication of what is going on in someone’s mind, the things that make up all of that clutter are personal. People resist donating or discarding their own items for various reasons. We need to be mindful of why our spouse feels such an sense of attachment to a specific item, and understand why some things are harder to let go of.

Tip #3:

Communication is the key to any relationship, and that goes double for any couple trying to declutter a home or work space.  It is important to communicate to your spouse or co-worker what the effects of clutter are to your peace of mind. Let them know too what it is that you consider to be clutter. Perhaps their hesitation to pitch in is due to the fact that they honestly don’t notice it.

Asking your spouse to address the pile of shoes in the front hall will have no significance if he or she walks over it without a thought. It certainly will not be important enough to become an addition to their to-do list. If you explain why it is important to you, it just might become important to them.

Tip #4:

When trying to coax a reluctant spouse or co-worker to declutter, a great idea is to begin with a common area. After all, it may be that the task of streamlining a home or office is overwhelming to them. Much like the adage that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, if you begin with the common goal of decluttering a shared space, the job might seem much less enormous. Once the benefits of decluttering have been discovered, it may be enough to motivate your spouse or co-worker to continue to streamline their own personal clutter. Again, if you offer to help with his or her individual area, it just might be enough to overcome the hurdle on the track to a decluttered space.

Tip #5:

Sometimes, in order to conquer the clutter the job calls for a professional. In this case, a Certified Ultimate Professional Organizer™ . Because he or she is an objective third party, utilizing a proven method, they can help sort through the clutter that is emotionally significant to your spouse or co-worker. Ultimate Academy’s Eileen Taylor Method involves help such as implementing storage solutions and paper management systems, as well as create a system for keeping these items organized going forward.

Having a home devoid of clutter contributes to a happier life and grants us the ability to focus on what is important. While the path to living a decluttered life may be clear for some, others experience hurdles. Armed with the tools presented those determined to vanquish the scourge of clutter can easily overcome these obstacles.