My first introduction to decluttering and minimalism happened four years ago. It was a blogpost on Un-fancy that opened up the doors to an entire different world. Caroline wrote about how she got rid of most of her wardrobe. This intrigued me and stayed with me for a few weeks. One morning in a particularly fed-up state, my wardrobe was flung open and about 80% was donated. This was the first taste of minimalism and I was hooked (or so I thought!). I wanted to declutter every part of the house and experience that same relief, peace and simplicity. Yet, looking back now over the past four years, I can clearly see what my biggest decluttering struggles have been on this journey. Likewise, how I could have avoided it.
1. My partner wasn’t on board.
After successfully decluttering my wardrobe, I was seeking the same peaceful and simple experience with the rest of our household. However my then-husband didn’t share in the excitement. The garage was stacked full of boxes. Overflowing with stuff we couldn’t name and didn’t use. Hahahaha… I’m not saying get rid of your partner if he / she is not on this journey with you. All I’m saying is, it was a huge struggle for me and eventually I gave up on the decluttering.
What to do: Communicate… Your wardrobe is your personal space and no one can tell you what to do there. If you want to continue decluttering, have a conversation with your partner / roommate / children / whoever else you share your household with. Talk about the way a simpler wardrobe has affected your life. And how you would like to implement it in the house and in which order.
2. I didn’t know what to do next.
After the wardrobe declutter I had no idea which area or room or space to tackle next – I was completely overwhelmed by the entire house. In addition to that, I also had no guidelines… no step-by-step action plan… nothing. Making matters worse, I tackled the garage – where a lot of sentimental items were kept in boxes. Which probably made this my Number #1 of all my decluttering struggles. I felt alone and had no support.
What to do: Having a clear structured plan really helps, especially with regards to sentimental items that generally goes last. If one full section is too overwhelming, break it up into smaller bite size sections that you feel comfortable with. Like if your kitchen is too much, break it up into electronic equipment, utensils, cups, glasses, etc.
3. Negative comments from outsiders.
When we started decluttering (second time around) family and friends didn’t understand what I was going through. They constantly made comments about my decluttering and minimising. It was meant well, but it made me question my own sanity and my own journey. It deflated me and I took the comments very personal.
What to do: Again… communication is key. Others become more accepting when we share our journeys. And in turn become less judgemental. These days I just laugh when people make comments. Like, “are you moving?” or “your house is too empty!”…. To which I simply reply… “well, it works for US.”
4. Not having a vision.
Having a vision of what you want your life to be, is like a builder having a plan to build a house. If you don’t have a plan (or a vision) you won’t know if you’re taking steps in the direction to where you want to be.
What to do: Before you start decluttering, sit down with you partner / spouse / living companion. Look at what you don’t like about your current life. Assess what your time is spent on and how it can be put to better use. And spent more wisely on things you love doing.
5. Choosing what to get rid of.
Let’s face it… It is HARD when you just start out on the decluttering journey. Letting go of stuff you’ve held onto for years. Items you cherished forever, but never actually liked. Things you’ve spent money on, but never use. It is totally normal to second guess decisions while decluttering.
- What if I want to use this in the future?
- What if I need this tomorrow?
- What if I change my mind?
- What if… What if… What if…
What to do: I found it’s much easier to just shift your mindset… Don’t view decluttering as getting rid of stuff. Start approaching it in a different way… What are the items I absolutely love and use? And keep those! It’s ok to trust your first initial ‘gut feeling’ about an object…
Through all of our decluttering over the past 18 months, I’ve never regretted purging anything. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And if you realise you truly need it, write it down on a list (without going shopping for it the next day). Keep track of how many times you actually need it over a set period of time. If you really feel you still can’t live without it, then you can buy it.
Minimalism is a great tool to help you establish what is truly important in your life. With that said, decluttering and minimising isn’t a quick fix for all your problems. It takes patience, time and diligence. So, in order to reap its true benefits, you should persist until you have your desired goal. Having decluttering struggles is not unheard of, people struggle with different things for different reasons. What is (or was) your biggest struggle?