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What to do When You’re Stuck in a Decluttering Rut

What to do When You’re Stuck in a Decluttering Rut

Have you ever been stuck in a decluttering rut? One day you’re ticking along making great progress clearing the clutter from your home. Then all of a sudden, you’ve lost your decluttering mojo.

Or maybe you want to start clearing the clutter, but you don’t even know where to start or where is best to focus your efforts.

Or it could even be you’re not making decluttering progress as quickly or as easily as you hoped.

It happens!

Decluttering is a process that can take a lot of time and a lot of energy. And sometimes you simply run low on both!

The great news is if you’re stuck in a decluttering rut, there are a few simple tips and tricks you can use to get back in your decluttering groove!

Today I’m sharing 9 awesome ways to find your motivation and momentum if you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a decluttering rut!

What to do when you’re stuck in a decluttering rut

1. Remember your “why”

Whenever you feel stuck in a decluttering rut, the first thing to do to get yourself unstuck is remembering your “why”.

When you first set out to clear the clutter from your home you likely started with a reason why. A vision for your home and life you wanted to achieve.

For example, maybe you want to spend less time cleaning and picking up. Or maybe you want to feel happier and calmer in your home. It could be that you want more time, money and freedom to travel. Or simply have more time and energy for the people you love!

Each of our “whys” are personal and unique to us. But the key is to come back to the vision and goal you want for your life. That’s your “why”.

Decluttering is hard work – physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s easy to let the amount of work overwhelm you.

But remembering your “why” helps reinvigorate your motivation. Getting you out of slogging through the decluttering tasks themselves, and focusing on the big picture again instead.

Your “why” gives you a goal to work towards. And it’s a lot easier to put in the time and effort when you know exactly what you hope to achieve!

2. Learn to rest, not quit

As with any big project or change you undertake in your life, there will be times when you feel excited and motivated, and times when you feel stuck, overwhelmed or uninspired to continue. Maybe feeling like you want to quit or give up altogether.

The important thing to remember when you feel like quitting is that it’s ok to need a break. But just because you need a break, doesn’t mean you need to quit.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”


Take a break from decluttering if you’re feeling stuck in a decluttering rut or like giving up. Use the time to enjoy the things you want more time and space for in your life once you clear the clutter. Play with your kids, get outside and enjoy the day, spend some time on a hobby you love, relax and read a book.

Have some fun to remind yourself why you’re putting in the time and work to clear the clutter. Remind yourself why it will be worth it to declutter your home and your life!

3. Celebrate the success you’ve already had

When you get stuck in a decluttering rut, it’s often because you focus on how much there is still left to do, instead of how far you’ve already come. But a great way to get unstuck is reminding yourself of everything you’ve already accomplished.

If you’re feeling stuck or discouraged, shift your focus from everything still left to get to. And instead, celebrate all the work you’ve already put in and what you’ve already accomplished!

This is why I highly recommend taking before and after pictures of the spaces you’re decluttering.

Sometimes when you are working on decluttering, especially if you’re doing a little bit of decluttering every day, it’s easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come.

Sometimes you don’t even notice what a difference your hard work decluttering is making until you remind yourself of where you started.

4. Small steps still move you forward

Sometimes when you’re stuck in a decluttering rut, it’s because you took on too much, too fast and burnt yourself out.

If that’s the case, pull back a bit. Focus on some smaller decluttering projects that feel less exhausting and less overwhelming.

For example, instead of trying to declutter a whole room, focus on decluttering one drawer, one shelf, one cupboard, etc. at a time.

Progress is progress! It doesn’t matter how fast or slow your progress is. Every time you make the effort to remove some clutter from your home it matters. And it all adds up over time.

Consistency is more important than intensity. If you make a consistent effort to clear the clutter from your home, it will make a difference over time!

5. Hype yourself up!

Sometimes when you’re stuck in a decluttering rut, all you need to get out of your funk is to hype yourself up a little bit.

Find decluttering articles online to inspire you. Go on Pinterest or Instagram and find accounts and material to motivate and inspire you.

Find people who are also decluttering to support and encourage you. My Facebook group is a great place to find support. Click here to join!

Surround yourself with information and people that inspire you and get you back into a place of being motivated and excited to clear the clutter.

If there was something you read or saw that lit a fire under you to get decluttering in the first place, go back to it. Read or watch it again to get back to that place of excitement and motivation.

There is so much great inspiration available at our fingertips on social media and on the internet. Use it to your advantage to rekindle your decluttering motivation if you find yourself stuck in a decluttering rut.

6. Make a decluttering plan

It’s easy to get stuck on your decluttering journey if you are looking at the work ahead of you, but don’t have a plan to break down the big job of decluttering your entire home into smaller, more manageable steps.

If you’re feeling stuck in a decluttering rut because you’re feeling overwhelmed, or don’t even know where or how to start – make a plan!

Break down your decluttering goals into the exact steps you need to take to get there. Plan it all out so you know what you need to do, where you need to focus your efforts, when you’ll declutter, etc.

A plan makes a big project like decluttering feel less overwhelming and scary.

And knowing exactly what steps to take to get the decluttering done makes following through easier. Not to mention, seeing the job broken down into smaller steps can even help prevent procrastinating!

Need some help making your decluttering plan?

To help take the guesswork out of making your decluttering plan, you can use this free printable workbook I’ve put together for you! Sign up for my email list and you’ll get the workbook to help you make your decluttering plan right away!

Or if you want a done-for-you decluttering plan, check out Your Clutter-Free Home. Your Clutter-Free Home is a complete decluttering guide, giving you everything you need to declutter like a pro. Including detailed decluttering checklists for every room in your home!

Find more details about Your Clutter-Free Home here.

Your Clutter-Free Home: decluttering guide & checklists

7. Find ways to make decluttering more fun!

If you’re stuck in a decluttering rut, one of my favourite ways to get going again is by making decluttering more fun!

You may not believe it’s possible to make decluttering fun, but there are ways to make it more enjoyable and even fun!

You can set up challenges (for yourself, or with your family) to add some fun competition to decluttering.

For example, you could challenge your family to see who can find more items to declutter in a set amount of time. Or set a timer and see if you can find 25 things to declutter before time runs out.

Turning decluttering into a game or adding some playful competition is a great way to make it more fun and motivate yourself to keep going!

Another great incentive to get out of a decluttering rut is offering yourself rewards for putting in the time and effort to clear the clutter.

For example, treat yourself to a meal out or a latte at a coffee shop once you’ve finished decluttering a certain space or working for a set amount of time.

Rewards (especially clutter-free, not “thing” rewards) are great ways to give yourself a boost of motivation and incentive to get the work done!

Even something as simple as playing your favourite music while you’re decluttering can make the job more enjoyable and help you get back in your decluttering groove!

8. Leave the hard stuff

Just like learning to rest, not quit, when you’re stuck in a decluttering rut, another great way to get out of a decluttering rut is shifting your focus from the hard stuff to decluttering to something easier.

When you declutter somewhere or something easier, you will likely see results and finish the project quicker and easier. By giving yourself this quick and easy “decluttering win”, you’ll help build your confidence, momentum and motivation to keep going.

Tackle decluttering the harder stuff or the stuff that takes more time and effort once you’re on a roll again and feel out of your decluttering rut.

Then continue to work on decluttering the harder stuff in short bursts if you need to so you don’t get overwhelmed, bogged down or burnt out again.

9. Join a decluttering program

Sometimes you’re stuck in a decluttering rut simply because you don’t know where or how to start. When the whole process feels overwhelming, it’s highly likely that you’ll have difficulty getting started and following through to get the work done.

Find a decluttering program that works for you, and follow it to get out of your decluttering rut.

My free decluttering challenge, Spring into Simple, is a great way to kickstart your decluttering progress and get out of a decluttering rut. We go through Spring into Simple together live each April. Learn more about the Spring into Simple Decluttering Challenge here!

Some other great examples of free decluttering programs are The Minimalism Game, 40 bags in 40 days, and Nourishing Minimalism’s Yearly Decluttering Challenge.

And if you’re ready to go all in with your decluttering and really focus on reaching your clutter-free goals, check out my complete decluttering guide, Your Clutter-Free Home.

Your Clutter-Free Home: decluttering guide & checklists

Your Clutter-Free Home is a great way to give yourself motivation, encouragement and detailed, step-by-step decluttering checklists to follow to get started decluttering and keep going. Not only does it help you begin decluttering your home. But it also helps make sure you can follow through and finish decluttering as well.

Your Clutter-Free Home walks you through the whole process of decluttering your home and your life, step-by-step and room-by-room. And is a great way to make sure you won’t end up stuck in a decluttering rut, get discouraged and give up altogether!

You can learn more about Your Clutter-Free Home here!

I hope these tips and tricks will help you get back in the groove if you’re ever stuck in a decluttering rut! What’s your favourite way to get out of a rut when you’re decluttering? Leave a comment and let me know!

What to do When You're Stuck in a Decluttering Rut
Photo by Katja Rooke on Unsplash

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Sunday 25th of June 2023

Great reminders and ideas here. Looking at how far I've come, has reduced the 'guilt' I feel when getting in a rut trying to move forward. Your tips reaffirm Im making progress. Decluttering is a journey, no end date required as living means life changes. New things and changes come into your life and I assess now what I allow into my home. Coming out of my rut a sweep of my wardrobe removed 70 items,I gradually accumulated stuff , I recognised did not serve my style oops... so now moved on to new owners and donated. Created a feeling of 'lightness' inspired, I'm now slowly moving into more decluttering of some hard stuff. I know if I get overwhelmed there is nothing wrong with taking a timeout. Thankyou Melissa, brilliant tips as always.

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 27th of June 2023

Yes! Looking back at the progress you've made is a great idea! Decluttering is definitely an ongoing journey and process. Great job tackling your wardrobe. You did great! And very true - going slow and taking time outs really helps. Slow and steady is one of my favourite ways to declutter. Thanks for reading and for your kind words :)


Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

Thanks for enlighten me with new ideas.

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

You're welcome! Thanks for reading :)


Monday 22nd of April 2019

Melissa, you look great in your 10 x 10 wardrobe challenge! I'll try that one of these days. Also, I verily agree--- "decluttering is hard work." "No pain, no gain." "Pay now, play later." Big thanks, Melissa! God bless you more and more! : )

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

Thanks so much, Succor! I really enjoyed the 10x10 challenge, you should definitely try it sometime! Love what you said about decluttering, it is hard work, but so worth it once it's done! Thanks for reading and sharing your kind words!


Wednesday 10th of April 2019

Yes! Small steps still move you forward! It's like one step at a time, but with consistent effort. I can do it. I must do small steps. Thank you, Melissa. :-)

Moving forward, Succor

Simple Lionheart Life

Wednesday 10th of April 2019

Yes, you're exactly right Succor! Small, consistent steps absolutely add up over time! You certainly can do it! Thanks for reading :)

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