Minimalism: What Happens Post-Decluttering?

Have you thought about what happens when a person is done decluttering?
Decluttering take so much time and for most of us, we have to be at the point where we are obsessed with decluttering to accomplish what we wanted.
And then you get to the point where you are satisfied with the amount of belonging you have.
So, then what happens?
First off, it’s weird. For such a long time I was focused on getting rid of things, decluttering, sorting, editing everything- from cupboard contents to the activities on the calendar. And then one day, I sat down and I didn’t have anything more to do. I had free time. 
At that point, you need to remember your “why”. We all have a “why”- why are you doing all this decluttering? What type of life were you wanting to get to?
Think back to that, and all the plans you had for when you were done with this decluttering business. Take time now to do those things that you wanted to- take a class, learn to cook, spend time with your children, volunteer.
And remember, this is a journey. It’s never completely done- there will always be things we need to learn, need to prioritize and there is still clutter that makes it’s way into the house that we have to stay on top of.
How is your decluttering journey going? Are you in the middle of it? Are you “done”? How was the transition for you when you realized you no longer had a huge to-do list?

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Karrie on 02/21/2015 at 10:25 am

    We’ve just started de-cluttering on a large scale. With 2 young kids it’s essential for me to edit our belongings. However, finding the time to do bigger projects is challenging. My husband & I are committed to the process though and are already pleased with the results. In the past three weeks, we’ve donated or eliminated more than 1000 items! I look forward to the day we have free time. 🙂

  2. Michelle C on 02/21/2015 at 10:54 am

    We have been minimalists for over a year now and we still have to regularly declutter. We have only one child (minimalist family?) but I swear the toys reproduce while we sleep! We finally took every single toy away and have been giving them back one toy at a time as she asks for them. Children will always ask for their favorite toys first. I think our home as finally reached the “toy threshold” – meaning that she has enough toys to play comfortably, but right on the cusp of not being able to care for them properly. If we remove a couple more I think we will find the balance. Interestingly enough, only one of the toys she has wanted back was a new one from Christmas! She seems to be more interested in the toys I have made for her over the years – her sock monkey, stuffed elephant, the cloth diapers for her baby doll. It just goes to show that kids know quality and it doesn’t always some from a store. Now what do I do with this box of brand new toys? There is a thrift store just down the street…..

  3. Sarah on 02/21/2015 at 11:38 am

    In the last 2 years we’ve moved between 5 houses interstate and now are settled in our new home. With each move I have had to put the less time crucial paperwork away to deal with it at a later date (from filing to creating scrapbooks for my 2 daughters and sorting through my recipe folder).
    However with each move I have become more stringent with what we keep, primarily with clothing, toys and decor. Now that we are settled I am so looking forward to sorting through my old files and starting long overdue craft projects, and generally having more free time for my family to go on outings and explore. Your regular newsletters could not have come at a better time for me. Thank you for your continued energy and motivation! PS A tip from me that might provide someone reading this with more storage space…just before my husband and I first moved interstate together, he suggested that I buy carry bag cases to store all my DVDs/CDs. At the time I was a little reluctant to throw away the cases, believing that I had some sentimental attachment to them. However, when I began removing all the DVDS from their cases I couldn’t believe how good it felt, especially because the cases occupied only a fraction of the space the cases had. Soon after I sold most of my CDs, keeping only a very small collection of my alltime favourites – after all the albums were already maintained electronically on my laptop/ipod. How wonderful technology can be for storage options! Rethinking what I am sentimental to and not is the best start to decluttering my home

    • Rachel on 02/23/2015 at 3:19 pm

      That is great! I put all our DVDs into a CD wallet too, and I LOVE it- so much easier all the way around. Thanks!

      • Lisa on 02/25/2015 at 3:45 am

        I was hoping one of your readers may know of a way to store dvd’s in a digital format so I can get rid of all the disc’s?

  4. Sarah on 02/21/2015 at 11:39 am

    I have completed the decluttering process upstairs in the kids bedrooms as well as the kitchen and living room. So I’m not done but upstairs is. I find myself upstairs all the time playing with my kids on the floor. Even with all the toys out (the handful that we kept), it still looks clean. It’s very manageable as it takes about 2 minutes to clean it all up. It’s been easy to maintain by just dealing with an item as it comes upstairs. We haven’t let anything pile up. It’s so freeing and I don’t feel like I’m having to choose between cleaning house and spending time with my children. My kids are happier, better behaved, making their beds every morning, working on their chore charts, it’s amazing! Then I can tackle the rooms that are left a little at a time during nap times. We’ve been longing for our lives back and I feel like we are finally getting that.

    • Rachel on 02/23/2015 at 3:17 pm

      I love it! That is so great!

  5. Martha on 02/21/2015 at 12:56 pm

    My husband and I are parents of five children with just one left at home. We’re planning on my husband retiring in about five years, so we are faced with a big house with lots of stuff that we’ve accumulated over the 21 years that we’ve lived in it. I’m a saver and have been wonderfully taught by my Depression-era parents not to waste anything that could be of value to someone, so we have a lot of stuff that we have not needed in the past, do not need now, and never will need! It has taken reading several of your blog posts, Rachel, and a few others that you recommended, to change my thinking about “stuff.” Together my husband and I are making great progress and I couldn’t begin to put a number on the items that we’ve cleared out since the beginning of the year. It is most definitely a freeing process to let go of the weight of it all and I love having excess room in my drawers and cabinets and feeling that I really want and use the things that I do have.

    • Rachel on 02/23/2015 at 3:15 pm

      That’s so wonderful Martha!

  6. Erin D on 02/21/2015 at 2:26 pm

    We got rid of about half the contents of our house when we moved cross-country a couple of years ago. This house is so much smaller that the last one, though, that we are continually editing/decluttering still!
    That being said, it’s a great feeling to look around and enjoy the mind-freeing space when you’ve finally created it. We’re seeing pockets and corners here and there that feel really good.

  7. Sarah @ GlamGranolaGeek on 02/21/2015 at 4:52 pm

    This post is inspiration to me that there actually IS an end in sight! I’m at the beginning of my minimalism journey 🙂 Just got rid of a big, clunky, unused stroller today though! Baby steps.

  8. Andrea on 02/22/2015 at 3:11 am

    I’m about 75% done with my house. I have a bit more to get rid of (and let’s not talk about the garage where I havent even started!), but I’m already noticing how much easier things are. My stress level is WAY down. It’s really helped in all areas of my life. I feel I have more time for everything else- my husband, my children, cooking REAL meals instead of eating out, inviting people over more (because it’s not so much work to prepare), going out and doing more because the housework isn’t hanging over my head. I feel like I’m getting it together. And this year I hope to have time for a garden.

    • Rachel on 02/23/2015 at 3:06 pm

      I love that Andrea!

  9. Naomi on 02/22/2015 at 7:33 am

    We’re on the last bit of our decluttering this month. We have reduced our possessions by 70%.
    I’ve already got my next group of projects lined up. I reinstated my blog this year and I will be decluttering my Nanna’s house with her. She is in her mid-80’s and is concerned that people will feel burdened by her house of ‘delights’ when she passes. After that or perhaps even before I will be starting study to retrain for a different career path. We have plans to do some travelling as well.
    Also, now I have so much more time for my girl because I no longer have a lot of stuff to maintain. She is our one and only and it feels so important to enjoy her little-ness. I know one day sooner than I’d like, she will spread her wings and fly.

  10. Cathy Baldwin on 02/23/2015 at 6:39 am

    I am now up to 350 items decluttered this year – in just 3 weeks! The chart looks great but the house seems as bad as ever. However I feel great, and our local charities are really benefitting too. I would love to hear more about emotional attachment to belongings though – I really need to get rid of an old-fashioned set of kitchen scales and weights, but it was a wedding present from my grandmother who died a few years ago, and I just don’t think I’m ready to let it go yet, even though I don’t use it any more as I have a small electronic scale that I use now. I know I can ignore it for a while as there’s so much else to do, but it’s a problem for me. Thanks for all your advice. My kids are on board now with their books and toys, I just need to get my husband on board! He’s backing me but hasn’t yet got rid of much of his own stuff. There are 6 in our house too, but the boys are all teenagers now and we still have so much from when they were little. Thanks again!

  11. Coco on 02/24/2015 at 11:40 am

    We are getting ready to move in June, with our four children to live with my parents while we transition into a new job and work on paying off debt. My husband and I have basically decided only the necessities will go. So even though I have slowly (over the last 3 years) been working on decluttering (We have had 2 children in the last three years) the last two months and the upcoming months are the real deal. We have gotten to a point where it is just stuff and it is becoming so much easier to just get rid of the stuff. There is very little that now has a sentimental attachment. It feels so good!

  12. Chris on 02/24/2015 at 12:34 pm

    I started decluttering about 4 weeks ago. It is wonderfully liberating. So many items I have bought over the years have been decorative and many of them have gone to local charities. Anything which has been given to me and is not a useful item is moving on. However my hubby whose study and garage are both in utter chaos is very resistant to removing items so I am still living with clutter to a certain extent. I just have to hope that in time he sees how much easier it makes life for me and maybe he will come around. My next challenge I am giving myself is to reduce my wardrobe. Too many clothes I have not worn in years are taking up space!!!

  13. Sadie on 03/09/2015 at 4:56 pm

    I think this is the most important question you can ask about decluttering!
    Like dieting, decluttering can become an obsession. It’s important to remember that it’s not the point. The point is what you will do with your life when you aren’t buying, storing, and caring for so many things.
    My answer: go outside. And by “my answer,” I mean that’s how I would answer the question. But I would encourage anyone in the decluttering process to think about their answer, and then go now, before you are “done” decluttering! Sometimes the most important “letting go” is letting go of the idea that our houses have to be perfect before we start doing anything else with our lives. I find that the more I get out and do the things that matter, the easier it is to just pick a box off the top closet shelf that I know I haven’t opened in years, and get rid of it!

    • Rachel on 03/09/2015 at 11:06 pm

      That is really good advice Sadie! Thank you.

    • Ruth on 02/27/2017 at 8:08 pm

      Yes, yes, yes! Let’s not lose sight of WHY we’re doing it.

  14. Annika on 04/12/2015 at 12:50 pm

    Hello. I just found your website. I live in Sweden and I’m in a decluttering process right now. It takes a long time because you get really tired doing it (but Getting energy to when it’s done) I sometimes think what I’m I going to do after and almost feel scared about it. Your video about it was very good for me to watch. I hope I will remember to go back to it when I’m having those thoughts. Thank you.

    • Rachel on 04/15/2015 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks Annika, so glad you found my site!

  15. Sybil on 04/26/2020 at 8:35 am

    It is 4/26/2020 and I just found this blog. Hope it’s still active! I have been decluttering for years only to relapse.. that said, I finally figured out that to be a minimalist, you can’t have a lot of decorations, period. I’ve been holding onto country type collectibles and we live really far from a drop-off so I put them in the recycle bin. I felt like a cad, but what could I do? They may become someone’s treasure at the recycling center!

  16. Sybil on 05/22/2020 at 8:08 am

    I have gone into the basement after decluttering this house (exception: husband’s “office”). There I found stuff that were already in garbage bags and off they went into the dumpster. There are some holiday decorations and that’s about it. Okay, there are some chairs down there but to be honest that’s the only clutter left. I have to admit that this is freaking me out. There’s so much gone!

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