How do you know when you’ve decluttered too much?
Decluttering is getting rid of the stuff in your home that you no longer love or use.
And it should never be about how much you have, but why you have it.
But sometimes decluttering can become slightly addictive. Or a habit. The focus shifts from keeping the stuff we enjoy to constantly focusing on making our pile of stuff as tiny as it can be OR we declutter in a mode of frustration and chuck everything out. The latter is quite rare, but it can happen.
And then, we find that maybe we did need that rolling pin. Or maybe a few extra t-shirts would be handy for summer.
Finally being in control of the stuff you own after, perhaps, a very long time of drowning in it, can bring about a sense of control.
But getting into the habit of decluttering whenever you have a few minutes, or scheduling it into a weekly task, can lead to a few knock-on issues.
Here are my tips for knowing when to hit pause on Decluttering your home.
You’re doing it wrong if you’re re-purchasing the same stuff within 6-12 months
Decluttering, minimalism and zero waste are all movements that tie into each other. Basically, they are all about living with less so that we leave less rubbish on the planet. Simples right?
But if you are decluttering to live with less, but are finding that you are repurchasing the same stuff within 12 months (even if it’s just “junk” from the $2 store), take a look and reassess at why you chose to get rid of the stuff in the first place.
So often we focus on how stuff leaves our home, but it’s also critical to look at how it enters our home.
More simply put – how is stuff entering your home and how is it leaving it?
Humans like new stuff all the time. However, you don’t need to be getting rid of volumes of the items you own, only to put your hard earned cash straight back into the same stores.
The planet doesn’t need it, nor does your bank account.
If shopping is a hobby or a pastime of yours, maybe it’s time to find a new one. You’ve got this.
You start to obsess about how small you can get your pile of stuff
Clutter is stuff that just sits in your home and will collect dust until probably the end of time.
However, it is 100% okay to keep the Christmas Tree waffle maker tucked away only to be pulled out on December 25th each year because the kids love it. Or holding onto boxes and boxes of kids clothes as you know you are planning a growing family. Or that one lime zester that looks kinda awkward in the drawer, but you do only use it for your famous tart 1-2 times per year.
Life moves in phases, so there will certainly be items you can retire, but be honest about the practical use of stuff instead of focusing on how empty the space will look.
It’s okay to have stuff in your home.
You don’t have to ditch those final few winter coats because you just want the whole closet to be empty. If you love them and know you will use them, it’s okay to fill the space.
Some categories will also naturally grow over time. You don’t have to cull the kids’ toys so that all the toys fit all into one little neat basket. The kids will accumulate more toys. It’s okay to get a 2nd basket to make your life easier.
Keep the stuff that is still useful for your household. And in the quantities that are practical. For now and in the future.
You fear getting attached to items so you just want to get rid of them
Try taking a toy off a toddler and you will quickly see that us humans love our stuff.
And that’s actually okay. It’s human.
Decluttering and minimalism are not competitions to show off how clean or disciplined you are with your stuff (and frankly, no one cares).
Decluttering is freeing up the space in your home by removing items that suck energy, rather than give it.
I like a fair bit of stuff in my own home. Little artworks, cushions, plants, books. The list goes on.
You can have a collection of lovely things and still not be emotionally attached to it. Meaning it doesn’t define you, but it does make you happy. If you lost it all in a fire one day, you would still be you. And although it would be hard and 100% annoying to replace it all, you’d be okay at the end of the day.
You’re afraid you’ll end back at Square One
So many clients over the years have said that they worry they’ll put in all the hard yards of decluttering only to end up back in the mess where they started – drowning in a house of stuff.
The thing is, decluttering is a skill you learn. Like baking, riding a bike, or typing.
Once you learn it, you have it in your toolkit, ready to pull out when you need it. It does take a bit of inspiration and motivation to get started, especially since decluttering is so physical. But trust me, once you’ve done it once, you can do it again.
You won’t end up back at Square One as you have seen the light and already know how to declutter.
The days of wondering what to do with all of your stuff are well and truly behind you.
You know how to deal with it and get stuck in (and thankfully it’s not rocket science).
Decluttering is a chore – not a hobby
If you are finding that every free moment you get you feel like you need to be getting rid of something in your home – stop.
Batch your decluttering sessions further apart (every 3-6 months) and spend your time doing something else. Reading, running, getting stuck into a new TV show. Constantly trying to decrease, streamline and perfect every inch of space in your home ain’t a way to spend a life. Call up a friend for coffee, get outside or google hobbies that you could do instead.
It sounds easier than it is sometimes, but getting out of the habit of decluttering and starting up new, fun activities is the end goal.
Life is far too short to constantly spend it obsessing over your stuff – no matter how small the pile is.
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