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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Decluttering

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Decluttering

I first started decluttering our home well over a decade ago. When, believe it or not, a spilled bottle of lotion propelled me to start ruthlessly decluttering and simplifying my home and life. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about decluttering. Today I want to share 6 things I wish I knew before I started decluttering.

Knowing these things now, the process of decluttering has become a lot easier and less stressful. Knowing these things has helped me become more confident in my decluttering decisions. And helped me be able to declutter more effectively.

If I could go back in time, here are 6 things I wish I knew before I started decluttering!

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Decluttering

6 things I wish I knew before I started decluttering

1. Decluttering takes time

One of the biggest things I wish I knew before I started decluttering was that decluttering takes time. It’s not something I could get done all at once, or even all in one weekend or week.

Life still carries on while you’re decluttering, so the key is finding pockets of time where you can fit decluttering in. This usually means doing a little bit of decluttering at a time and slowly working to make progress in clearing the clutter.

You didn’t accumulate all the stuff in your home overnight, so it only makes sense that it will take time to sort through it all and declutter what you don’t need as well. But I think we often start decluttering with unrealistic expectations of how much time decluttering will take.

I wish I had known that it will take a lot of time to sort through each cupboard, closet, shelf, room, etc. And adjusted my expectations accordingly. Instead of feeling discouraged when the progress I was making was slow, I would have known it’s normal for decluttering to take time.

Slow and steady decluttering is actually more beneficial in the long term anyway. When you work through your spaces slowly and intentionally, you have the opportunity to learn about your stuff, why you accumulated it and how you can avoid accumulating the same types of clutter in the future.

Not only does decluttering take time (usually more than you expect), but it also often requires multiple rounds of decluttering the same space to get to a place where you’re content with the amount of stuff.

The more you declutter, the braver and more ruthless you become. You notice you don’t miss the stuff you’ve already gotten rid of, and it encourages and motivates you to let go of more the next time you declutter the same space again.

When you’re decluttering, if you need to do multiple rounds of decluttering in the same space, know that this is completely normal. Trust the process and know that with each round of decluttering, you’re getting rid of another layer of clutter.

2. Decluttering is an emotional process

Sorting through everything you own is a lot of physical work, but it’s a lot of emotional and mental work as well.

Another important thing I wish I knew before I started decluttering was how emotional decluttering can be. Prepare yourself to face a lot of emotions as you declutter. It’s normal and part of the process. Acknowledge when emotions come up as you’re decluttering and work through them the best you can. The more you can work through the emotions that come up, the easier it will be to let go of the clutter.

For example, you will come across sentimental items you’re emotionally attached to. You’ll come across items you’ll feel guilty about getting rid of, or guilty for wanting to keep. There might be times you feel guilty about wasting money on items you didn’t end up using or loving. You might feel bad getting rid of something that was a gift. Some items might be attached to your identity, who you used to be or who you wished you were. Some items might be wrapped up in feelings of self-worth and value.

As you can see there are plenty of reasons emotions can come up as you’re decluttering. Be prepared for the emotional aspect of decluttering so you can process those emotions and make intentional decisions about what’s adding value to your life and what’s just adding clutter.

Take this as an opportunity to learn about yourself. About who you are and who you want to be. Use it as an opportunity to learn from past mistakes to avoid making them again in the future. Take time to notice habits and tendencies as they come up.

The more you embrace the emotional aspect of decluttering, the more you can learn about yourself in the process!

3. Decluttering gets easier

One thing I really wish I knew before I started decluttering was that decluttering gets easier.

Decluttering is like any other skill. The more you practice it, the better you become at it and the easier it becomes.

You get better at making decluttering decisions the more you make them. You get better at trusting your decisions and not second-guessing yourself the more you experience the benefits of decluttering for yourself.

And the more you experience the benefits of decluttering, the more it motivates and inspires you to continue decluttering.

If decluttering feels challenging at first, don’t get discouraged. Trust that the more you declutter, the better you’ll become at decluttering. And the easier decluttering will feel the more you gain skill and experience to guide your decisions.

4. It’s ok to make mistakes

One thing that holds a lot of people back when they’re decluttering is the fear of making mistakes. The fear of getting rid of something, then regretting it later and wishing you still had it.

It’s important to remember that there are no “right” answers when making decluttering decisions. You have to make an assessment of whether an item is something you use, need or love, or if it’s just adding clutter.

And you will likely make a few mistakes along the way. Getting rid of something, then needing or wanting it at some point in the future.

But I can speak from experience that there will be very few items you truly regret getting rid of. You’ll likely get rid of hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of clutter, and there will likely only be a handful of things you regret.

It’s not worth keeping a house full of clutter to avoid ever making a decluttering mistake or regretting getting rid of something. The benefits you’ll experience by decluttering will outweigh the few regrets you might experience.

Focus on what you stand to gain by decluttering, not the few potential mistakes or regrets that may come up in the future. Trust your future self to figure out what to do if you ever need something you already decluttered. There are plenty of options. From borrowing, buying second-hand, using something else instead, making do without, etc. You will figure it out. And in the meantime, remind yourself of all the benefits of decluttering you get to experience!

5. Decluttering is a lifestyle, not a one-time event

To truly experience the benefits of decluttering, think of it as a lifestyle, not a one-time event.

Always be on the look out for clutter you no longer use, need or love in your home. Plan to do maintenance decluttering on a regular basis to get rid of anything that’s found its way in. Or to adjust what you own as your needs, lifestyle, preferences, etc. change.

And remember that a big key to keeping your home clutter-free is changing your habits. Make an intentional effort to buy less and bring less into your home so there will be less to declutter to begin with.

6. Decluttering is worth it!

The most important thing I wish I knew before I started decluttering is that it will all be worth it!

The benefits of decluttering your home and life make all the work worth it. There are so many benefits of decluttering. You’ll have more time, more space, more peace, less stress, more time for who and what you love, more gratitude, more confidence in yourself and so much more.

Decluttering takes time and effort, but what you stand to gain makes it all worth it!

Can you relate to any of these things? What’s something you wish you knew before you started decluttering? Leave a comment below and let me know!

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Decluttering

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Sunday 21st of April 2024

I wish I knew that my children would not like to inherit all my things, as their needs and likes would be different as the times change. I have embarked on a huge massive decluttering. Ornaments and temple jars. Heirlooms in the family for 50-60 years. All gone now to a hospice charity. Dishes and household items packed in plastic crates for my daughter to take to her new home. She will also inherit the furniture which she does want. Other pieces I gifted. All decluttering done to house my mobility aids I now need to make my life easier. Needs change I have adapted my life now for what is important and useful. I devised a new scheme of labelling all my food in the Pantry with use by date stickers e.g. 3/24 7/24 3/25 1/26 all in neat rows seen easily and used up better. Shopping more intentionally and pantry is now minimal. When new food arrives it is dated immediately. Used up more easily and in the freezer also it is all labelled in use by date. A fun job to do like a hobby, and done quickly. Doesn't take long as it is done as soon as shopping arrives. Thank You Melissa for your inspiration and support. HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR FRIDAY 26/4. Best Wishes. Doreen

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

Great to hear from you Doreen and thank you for the birthday wishes! It sounds like you're doing great and being very intentional with your decluttering and organizing decisions. Good for you! Take care and thanks for reading :)


Sunday 21st of April 2024

I love so many things about your messages Melissa, and this is one of the best! It's simple, but so empowering - thank you!!

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

You're very welcome! Thank you for your kind words :)


Sunday 21st of April 2024

I just wanted to say thank you so very much for your awesome blogs and posts! Honestly, they're so incredibly helpful and I just love how kind and understanding you are, but also encouraging too! I can't give any tips myself as I'm an absolute novice to decluttering (the thought does feel intimidating at times icl) and a big hoarder (but I'm trying to stop this!) and these just boost me so much - so from the bottom of my heart: Melissa, thank you!:)

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

You're very welcome! I'm so glad the post was helpful for you. Thank you for reading and for your kind words :)

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