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Decluttering Your Life: Why Clutter is Actually the Result of Postponed Decisions

Decluttering Your Life: Why Clutter is Actually the Result of Postponed Decisions

In today’s fast-paced world, clutter seems to find its way into every corner of our lives. Whether it’s the physical clutter in our homes or the digital chaos on our devices, it can be overwhelming and detrimental to our well-being. But what if I told you that clutter is more than just a mess—it’s a manifestation of postponed decisions? In today’s post, we’ll explore the concept of clutter as a delay in decision-making and how understanding this can help make decluttering your life and home easier. Let’s dive in!

The Psychology of Clutter

Clutter isn’t merely a collection of random objects; it’s a reflection of our tendency to avoid and postpone making decisions. When we accumulate physical possessions, emails, or tasks, we’re essentially deferring the decision to deal with them. This procrastination, and the resulting clutter, can lead to a cascade of negative consequences. For example:

1. Stress and Anxiety: The constant visual reminder of unfinished tasks can trigger stress and anxiety, affecting your mental health.

2. Reduced Productivity: Clutter can be a major productivity killer. It saps your energy and makes it difficult to focus on important tasks.

3. Wasted Time: Searching for lost items or sorting through piles of clutter can waste valuable time that could be better spent on meaningful activities.

4. Hindered Creativity: A cluttered environment can stifle your creativity and hinder your ability to think clearly.

5. Strained Relationships: Clutter can also strain relationships, as it often leads to disputes and misunderstandings, particularly in shared living spaces.

Decluttering Your Life: Why Clutter is Actually the Result of Postponed Decisions
Photo by Linh Le on Unsplash

Clutter as Postponed Decisions

“Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.”

– Barbara Hemphill

To tackle clutter effectively, it’s crucial to recognize it for what it is: postponed decisions. When you avoid dealing with items or tasks, you’re essentially saying, “I’ll decide what to do with this later.” But as we all know, “later” can quickly turn into “never.”

Here are some common examples of clutter as postponed decisions:

1. Closet Overflow: Your overflowing closet may contain clothes you no longer wear but can’t bear to part with. This is a postponed decision—whether to keep, donate, or discard those items.

2. Email Inbox: An overflowing email inbox is a classic example of digital clutter. Each email represents a decision to read, respond, delete, or postpone indefinitely.

3. Unfinished Projects: Half-completed projects or DIY tasks cluttering your space represent decisions you’ve postponed, often due to indecision, running out of time or motivation or fear of failure.

4. Piles of Paperwork: Stacks of unsorted paperwork or bills are postponed decisions about what to file, pay, or discard.

5. Overflowing storage room: The storage room can often become the ultimate space for postponed decisions. Often things you no longer use, need or love get put in the storage room, simply to delay making a decision about what to do with them.

Decide once

The thing about postponed decisions is they continue to hang over your head, weighing on you. All that clutter is still in your home, taking up your time, space and mental energy.

Delaying making a decision to get rid of the clutter may seem easier and less painful in the short term. But in the long term, you’re not doing yourself any favours by delaying the decisions.

Instead of postponing decluttering decisions, make decisions now. Decide once to deal with the clutter and never have to use time or energy on those items again.

Be brave and make the decision to get rid of things you don’t use, need or love now. Trust your gut. If you pay attention when you’re decluttering, you usually know right away whether an item is something you truly use, need or love. Or whether it’s just clutter.

Letting go isn’t always easy. You might feel guilty getting rid of things you spent money on or received as a gift. You may feel fear that you should keep something “just in case” or “what if” you need it in the future. Or you might be emotionally attached to your clutter and find letting go hard.

But keep reminding yourself that you are doing your future self a favour by deciding to make these decisions now rather than postponing them to deal with and agonize over again in the future.

Confident decision-making when decluttering your life

Now that you’ve recognized clutter can sometimes be the result of postponed decisions, it’s time to take action and start decluttering your life effectively:

1. Start Small: Decluttering your life and home can be overwhelming, so start with one area at a time. For instance, begin with a single drawer or a small section of your closet. Aim to spend 15 minutes decluttering, making as many decisions as you can. Then repeat these small decluttering sessions often.

2. Set Clear Goals: Clearly define your goals for each decluttering session. How do you want the space you’re working on to look? How do you want it to feel? And most importantly, how do you want it to function? Aim to make decisions about what to keep, donate or toss, not just shuffle clutter and delay decisions. Having a clear purpose and goals will make decision-making easier.

3. Be consistent: Making decision after decision can be exhausting and even scary. That’s why it’s easy to postpone the decisions about clutter in the first place! But making consistent efforts to clear the clutter one small step at a time lets you make progress without decision fatigue taking over. Aim to spend a few minutes decluttering – and making decisions about the clutter! – every day and watch your progress add up!

4. The “Four-Box” Method: Use the “keep, donate, discard, put away elsewhere” approach when decluttering physical items. Make decisions quickly and avoid second-guessing. Make sure you’re making a decision for each item in the space you’re decluttering. Nothing gets a pass or skipped over!

5. Digital Decluttering: Apply the same principles when decluttering your digital life. Sort through emails, files, and apps regularly, and delete or organize as needed. Make decisions today and trust the decisions you’re making.

6. Prioritize: Focus on the most cluttered or problematic areas first. These clutter hot spots are the ones causing the most frustration and stress in your life. Tackling them will help your home look, feel and function better immediately. This will give you a quick sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue decluttering.

Need more help decluttering your life and home?

If you’re looking for more guidance to help you declutter your home and make confident decluttering decisions, check out my complete decluttering guide, Your Clutter-Free Home.

Your Clutter-Free Home: decluttering guide & checklists

Your Clutter-Free Home gives you everything you need to make decluttering decisions with confidence and clarity. The first section teaches you how to declutter like a pro so you can stop second-guessing your decluttering decisions.

Then the second section gives you step-by-step decluttering checklists for every room in your home. Guiding you to where to start decluttering, and what to work on next. Making it easy to use your decision-making power to make decisions about the clutter, rather than deciding where to declutter in the first place!

Learn more about Your Clutter-Free Home HERE!

Make decisions & transform your home and life

Clutter is not just a random accumulation of stuff; it’s a reflection of decisions you’ve postponed. By understanding clutter in this light, you can take proactive steps to declutter your life and create a more peaceful, productive, and simplified environment.

Remember, decluttering is not just about tidying up your physical space but also about making decisions that lead to a more intentional and fulfilling life. And making decisions that will help make your home easier to manage, maintain and take care of. Start tackling those postponed decisions today, and watch how your life transforms one decluttered space at a time!

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Sunday 24th of September 2023

I love reading all your decluttering hints, but I have such a difficult time getting rid of my clothes. Some are like brand new. Maybe worn once or twice. I know how much money I spent on buying them & it kills me just giving them away. I have sold on Poshmark for over 10 yrs.., but still have over 400 items listed. I also sell on Marketplace. It gives me satisfaction to be able to realize something from the sale. I have moved from a home to an apt. & have been struggling for almost 1 yr. Now with the clothes issue. I have a luggage rack sitting in one room besides boxes of stuff that I cannot bear to get rid of. My kids say just get rid of the stuff. It is so difficult for me. Please help! .

Simple Lionheart Life

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

That is difficult for sure. My best advice would be give yourself deadlines to get items listed for sale. And then deadlines to donate items if they haven't sold after a certain amount of time. This gives you the chance to try selling them, but also helps keep stuff moving out of your house on a regular basis. I hope that helps!

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