7 Things Not To Do When Decluttering

7 things not to do when decluttering

Throughout my decluttering experience, I have found 7 things not to do when decluttering.  These 7 things are easy to avoid and will help you get through the decluttering process faster.

A lot of people have told me they struggle to finish decluttering their homes.  That decluttering feels like a never-ending process.

Don’t let these 7 simple distractions get in your way!


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If you are struggling to finish the decluttering process you might be going about it the wrong way.  Here are 7 ways to stay on track when you are decluttering.

Think of decluttering as a job or doing your homework.  Remember back in school when you tried to watch TV and do your homework at the same time?  Well, I do, and let’s be honest it took twice as long as it should have.

In reality, if we can focus on the decluttering process as if it’s a job we will get it done faster and more efficiently. 


1. Do Not Organize When Decluttering

Decluttering and organizing are different.  Before I found out what decluttering was I would organize and reorganize the same area over and over.

It never dawned on me that I didn’t need half of the “things” I was trying to keep organized.

As it turns out organizing is a lot easier when there is less to deal with.  Start by focusing on decluttering ONLY.

Try not to organize while you are still decluttering.  I understand how hard this can be.

We have everything out and we want to get it into order, but organizing while you are decluttering will slow you down.

organized closet


2. Don’t Worry About Item Location

Don’t worry about where something should live in your home…yet. 

If you are unsure of where something should go in your home do not stop to figure this out.

Continue sorting through your things and make a pile of items that you’re keeping that go in a different room.

Just set the items aside in a pile or a box that is marked for another location.  Continue on with the decluttering process.

You might find that because you can’t find a place for that item maybe you don’t need it after all.


3. Don’t Start Too Many Areas

The quickest way to burn out is to start decluttering too many areas at once.

This seems very obvious but I have been in a situation where I get over-excited about decluttering.

I would start one area wander into a different room or get distracted and then start another area.  The biggest problem with this way of decluttering is you could be left with a giant mess on your hands.

What if something comes up or now it’s getting late and you have run out of time?  Instead of one area that has been pulled apart your whole home is a mess.

Try to focus on one small area or room at a time.  Finish decluttering that area completely before going off and starting a new area.


4. Don’t Multitask

Avoid all distractions. 

As I mentioned before we can all remember trying to do our homework while listening to music or watching TV.

I know it would take me twice as long and half of it would be wrong because I was distracted. 

Trying to do too many things at once is the best way to accomplish nothing.

When I’m going to declutter I turn off the TV, music, my phone, and any other distractions

Of course, my kids are still around so there will still be some distractions in life but I try to get rid of all of the extra ones

Decluttering can take a lot more mental energy than you think it will.  It’s much easier to make important decisions when there is nothing else going on in the background.


5. Hold Off on Cleaning

It is a great idea to clean after you are done decluttering.  Don’t let cleaning hijack your decluttering time.

Cleaning is one of those never-ending tasks.  Something can always be cleaned.

Use your decluttering time wisely and stick to only decluttering during this time.  The exception I make to this rule is when there is a really dusty or dirty area.

For instance, you pull out an item from the back of a closet and it’s going to spread dust everywhere.  That is when I will stop to quickly vacuum. 

Decluttering can take a lot of mental strength and I don’t want cleaning to interrupt that.

don't clean when decluttering


6. How to Dispose Of Items?

Don’t let the fear or question of where an item is going to ultimately go slow you down. 

When I’ve helped people declutter a lot of the time they will stop to think about where an item should go.  If they should sell it, donate it, or give it away to somebody?

That will slow you down!  Every item you pick up you stop to think about where it will go.

Instead, try to set everything into one box or basket that you know is going to go out of your house.  Once you are done picking out what’s going to go then you can break down these items into categories of being sold, donated, or given away to friends.


7. Don’t Feel Bad

Whatever you do, don’t feel bad about decluttering.  There is a reason why you are deciding to get rid of these items.

The money has already been spent and keeping the item is not going to bring it back.

This is when we need to think about the sunk cost. “In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost (also known as retrospective cost) is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.” – Wikipedia

As long as we are not clearing clutter only to run back out and purchase the same item then we should not feel bad about our decisions. 

A little while ago I bought a microphone and unfortunately it didn’t work well.  This microphone made a loud static noise the annoying thing was I couldn’t return it.

I was past the return window.  In good conscience, I would not sell this item to someone else either.

Of course, I could feel bad or keep this item forever just because I spent the money, but instead, I decided to let it go.   By letting go I felt relief and the best part of all was not being reminded of this bad purchase every time I saw it.


Conclusion Things Not to do When Decluttering:

These 7 decluttering tips have helped me to focus and get through the declutter process faster.  By focusing on only decluttering and nothing else I was more efficient with my time.

Here is the exact decluttering process I used in an actionableDecluttering E-Book.

Check out my Get Things Done Printable to stay organized and on task.


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6 thoughts on “7 Things Not To Do When Decluttering”

  1. Really great tips, video also shows you and explains the best reasons to declutter. Thank you for sharing.

    1. SHANNON

      Thank you! Good luck on your decluttering journey. =)

  2. OLYA

    thanks for a giving me a straight forward direction where to start with my never ending mess. The biggest challenge is to keep mental focus on one thing.

    1. SHANNON

      Hello, I am so happy this was helpful! I wish you luck with your decluttering journey.

  3. Cheryle

    We are finally cleaning out our home of 23 years so we can renovate it, decluttering has been really overwhelming for me and after reading this now I can see why! We got a dumpster rental because we have that much junk, and it’s been overwhelming, I think it’s because I’ve been trying to clean, organize, and declutter all at the same time. Thank you for these tips, I really appreciate it!!

  4. Brenda

    These are seven great tips, especially feeling bad about losing money on something you don’t use or can’t use, maybe you can make somebody else feel good by getting some use out of it. If you have had good deeds passed onto you, think of paying it forward..

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