4 things preventing you from decluttering

There are things that prevent us from decluttering.
They get in our way.
And today, I want to talk about four of them.

1.If we don’t believe something’s possible, we’re not going to take the steps needed to make it happen.

If from the get-go, we don’t believe that we can ever embrace minimalism, that we can have a home that’s easy to maintain, that we can develop good habits and stay on top of them, that we ourselves, no matter how messy we are, are completely capable of having a clean and organized home…
If we don’t believe that we can, we’re not going to actually take the steps to do it.
Because, “Yeah, that will never happen. So I don’t know why I try.”
We absolutely have to believe it’s possible.
Well, how do we do that?
For me, it started with changing the way I thought about things.

I used to just think, “I’m a messy person. That’s why the house is this way because it’s just not in me. I’m not able.”
And I had to stop and say, “No, I like a clean and organized house. I am a clean and organized person.”
So then when it came to doing things, I had to look at it as “What would a clean and organized person do? Because that’s what I am now. So I need to do what they would do.”
And oftentimes that meant dealing with something right away.

  • Taking the extra five steps to put that item away
  • To throw that item away
  • Taking care of something when I saw it, instead of waiting until I felt like it.

And it’s a process, we’re not going to be perfect from this point on, but learning to pay attention to those things, those thoughts and those actions are where we start to change them.

2. We make the job bigger than it actually is.

Cleaning the house, decluttering the house, all of that, seemed like so much work to me. Especially when I thought about the papers.
“Oh, my goodness. That’s going to take me three weeks.”
The truth is, it took me 15 minutes.
I would sit and think about the laundry and it would just get bigger and bigger and bigger in my mind.
“Oh, that laundry. I need to do the laundry. It’s going to take me so much time. I need to sort everything. There are stains in there. I need to treat those stains. I better Google something because those stains have been sitting there for the last six months, and I don’t know if it’s possible to get them out now. So I’m going to have to research. I’m going to have to wash things on hot and then on cold, and then I’m going to have to scrub the stains and the folding! Oh, my goodness. It’s going to take me SO long to fold all of that. I don’t know if it’s even going to fit in the dresser! Then it’ll fall on the floor and the kids will put it back in a hamper and then I won’t even know what’s clean and what’s dirty and I’m just going to wash everything over and over again!”
It’s okay.
Take a breath.
It’s not that bad.
All you have to do is one load. That’s it. One load, wash it, dry it, put it away, then deal with something else.
We don’t have to do it all today. We don’t have to do it all right now.
We don’t have to take care of those stains. In fact, we could throw those stained things away!

3. The stories that we tell ourselves.

This ties into number one… where if we don’t believe it’s going to happen, we won’t actually take the steps we need to get there.
Think about what you tell yourself when you walk into a messy room and you see stuff on every surface and piles of things that you need to sort through and you see that it’s dirty, it needs to be vacuumed, it needs to be dusted. All of these things going on. What goes through your mind?
I can tell you what went through my mind:
“Good grief. I am such a slob. Why am I so messy? I can’t do anything right. Everybody else I know has it under control. What is wrong with me? I don’t have the time or energy to deal with this.”
For me, it helped to write them down. I had to go through my list, write down, “I’m a messy person,” and then rewrite, “I am a clean and organized person,” and I had to do that with every single story that I told myself.
I don’t have the time and energy to do this… No, I have the time and energy to do what I need to do to take care of my home! (This, by the way, is something minimalism helps with because when you get rid of all the excess, then it doesn’t take very much time to maintain the house.)
Take a minute, sit down, write down those thoughts that go through your mind, and then rewrite them into positive statements.

  • I love having a clean home.
  • I love having the dishes done.
  • I have enough time to do what I need to do.

4. We require perfection from ourselves.

We say, “Oh, no, I can’t do that. I’m a perfectionist. I just can’t do that right now because I’m not going to be able to get it done perfectly.”
I hate to break it to you, but perfectionism is just an excuse.
“But we need to have time to do it correctly.”
Do we?
What if we did it incorrectly?
What if we did a little bit incorrectly every day for the next two weeks, and all of a sudden it was done?
How would we feel about that?
 “But, I’m waiting for the right time. I’m not ready to make all those decisions yet. I don’t have the energy to do the deep cleaning that goes with it.”
There is never going to be the perfect time to do this.
So how about we just do it?
“Oh, I’m waiting for a nicer house or nicer furniture because if I clean all this up, it’s still going to be really shabby and I’m still not going to be happy with my home.”
Well, maybe we should learn to take care of the home that we have right now. That way, when we get the nicer stuff, we’ll already be in the habit of taking care of it.

Four things that are often preventing us from decluttering.

To combat them:

  1. Believe that it’s possible.
  2. Don’t overthink – just take action
  3. Change the stories that you tell yourself
  4. Don’t fall for the perfectionism myth

Done is better than perfect.
If you would like to join me in decluttering, check out the Clutter-Free Army. Every week I send out a PDF of six, 10-minute missions, questions to ask, and an area to focus on so that you can move forward in your decluttering just 10 minutes at a time. Click here for more info.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Debbie on 04/19/2022 at 7:21 am

    Rachel, this is a beautiful piece which truly speaks to me! It’s as if you knew my mind! I’ve saved this one and you are so right…..Better done than perfect! I was a teacher and one of my principals used to say that! I love it! Easter is behind us and I’ll start again today! I will start again momentarily but I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate you and thank-you!

    • Rachel Jones on 04/19/2022 at 10:42 am

      Thank you so much Debbie! ❤️

  2. Margaret Didier'Serre margaretvoss49@gmail.com on 10/18/2022 at 10:06 pm

    I am a person who loves a tidy ,clean and easily maintained home,but I fell in love with person that will not throw anything away he has hundreds of CDs and DVDs books and we live in a tiny one bedroom bungalow,there is no room to breath.I have down sized my wardrobe,I have good rid of soo much of my things I don’t feel it’s my home anymore.

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