7 Tips to Avoid Decluttering Burn Out

Have you decided it’s time to get serious about decluttering your home? Are you tired of the piles, not being able to find what you need, and just the stress of clutter? Today I wanted to share with you 7 things you can do to avoid decluttering burn out. Sometimes when we decide we are fed up with the clutter and want to do something to change it, we can quickly get burnt out! 

Often people try to do too much, too fast, causing this decluttering burn out. In light of that, my first suggestion is to do a little at a time. I know at first it can be easy to pull everything out of a space konMari style and want to tackle everything all at once, but I suggest you resist the urge to do this. It is better to do a little at a time so you don’t get easily overwhelmed. I would start very small – maybe a single drawer or cabinet. Usually starting small like this gives us motivation to choose another small space, and then another, until we have gone through every space in our homes! Another idea adjacent to this is to set a timer. It can feel less overwhelming to work on projects like decluttering when we know there is an endpoint.

My next tip is to have a decluttering plan. For anything in life, when we have a plan set in place it makes everything go more smoothly. When we have a plan, we also have that feeling of there being an endpoint. {{Although I will say, as long as items are still coming into your home – even as gifts, freebies, or things your kids bring in, decluttering is a constant process. You just eventually get to the point where it’s not as overwhelming.}} What I like to do is choose one room in my home per week to deep clean and declutter throughout that week. Going through spaces in this way breaks it down into more manageable tasks.

My third tip is to make a game out of it! Making a game out of any task that isn’t fun can make it fun! I like to play the Minimalism Game, however this may be overwhelming to some people. With this game, you choose one item to get rid of on day one, two items on day two, three items on day three and so on throughout a month. So you end up donating things for 30 days, equaling over 400 items! Another game you could play is have every family member take a trash bag or box and see who can find the most items to donate. I am sure there are so many great decluttering games out there which you could Google for more ideas!

My next tip is to take breaks. If you feel a burn out coming on, take a few weeks or months where you aren’t focusing on decluttering. Sometimes we just need to take a break from it to recharge and feel ready to go through things again.

Another thing you can do to avoid decluttering burn out is to not start with sentimental items. These items can be very difficult to declutter and slow your process down. By starting with a space with items that you don’t have sentimental attachment to, you get the momentum you need to be successful at decluttering.

My sixth tip is to celebrate your successes. Celebrating along the way can also help with the momentum. When you acknowledge the progress you have made it can inspire you to keep working at it. An idea that I have seen is to take before and after photos. Sometimes we forget how far we have come! Having those photos can remind you of how much progress you have made!

My last tip is to invite a friend or a professional to help you! Sometimes you just need someone there to help you talk through why you should keep or get rid of items. Having another pair of eyes and someone else’s input can be really helpful. Also, this can also make this process less painful and more fun!

Well, I hope this post was helpful to you and that you are inspired to start decluttering your spaces today!

Digital Organization

Today I wanted to talk about digital organization. I have had this topic idea to share for quite some time, but have hesitated to share honestly because I feel like this is a space that I am the worst at keeping organized and decluttered. Much of our lives are now digital, so there is definitely a need to keep things organized and minimized. I will share with you what I would ideally do to keep this space under control, but I’m confessing that this is a struggle for me!

So first let’s talk about photos. This is one area that is so difficult to stay on top of! I’m pretty sure that currently as I write this I have over 5,000 photos on my phone! This is definitely something I need to deal with and learn to better stay on top of. A long time ago when digital cameras were first available, I was really good about removing the photos off of my camera, and putting them both on my computer and on a hard drive. As my kids got older and my schedule became chaotic, I found it difficult to keep up with this and eventually lost about a year and half worth of our family photos. Thankfully I was able to recover some of them as back then I used a website similar to Shutterfly to share photos with my extended family. This is definitely something I would suggest – to use an app that automatically backs up your phone’s photos. I personally use Google photos for this purpose. You can also use the Cloud, although I believe they cap the amount of data you are allowed to have stored there unless you pay an additional fee. 

I recently learned about a thumb drive that can connect directly to your iPhone in order to dump photos onto it to clear off your phone, and that is what I plan to use to save my photos in another location.

If you have time to organize your photos, I like to organize mine chronologically and will create folders for each month, putting the year first, then the month to keep it all chronological. That way it is easy to find the photo you are looking for. However, Google photos has a search mechanism which works wonderfully for finding a photo of a specific person, location, or thing.

Next let’s talk about computer file organization. First, I like to use external hard drives to keep minimal files on my computer as this helps it to run better. Creating folders with like files helps to keep things organized. Everyone will have different types of files, so you will have to determine what makes sense for your specific files. Perhaps having separate external hard drives for different types of files would be wise. Maybe you have personal files and work files.

Evaluate which programs or apps you have on your computer and determine if there are any that are unnecessary and uninstall those. In general, it’s good to have a regular habit of decluttering files and photos you no longer need.

Next I wanted to address email. I would suggest having a daily habit of deleting emails. Staying on top of emails will prevent that overwhelming feeling of having thousands of emails in your inbox. In addition to that, unsubscribe to emails from companies that you no longer need the information or are no longer helpful. I also suggest streamlining your email. Sometimes it is necessary to have more than one email address, but evaluate how many is really reasonable to have. It is far easier to keep up with just a couple email inboxes than several! 

The next thing I wanted to address is passwords! Keeping track of all of the passwords you have for all of the websites you use can be an overwhelming task. Every website seems to have different specifications on what the password can be. I think it is important to find a password storage tool that is easy and safe. I use NordPass to store all of my passwords, making it easy to access at any time, and I don’t have to worry about remembering all of these different passwords! Every site has different specifications for your password, and honestly it’s more safe if you use different passwords for different sites.

I of course also wanted to address your phone! The digital clutter we have on our phones can be overwhelming. As I mentioned with your computer, it’s a good practice to make time to declutter your phone regularly. Evaluate which apps on your phone that you actually use and delete any that you are not. Categorizing your apps into folders will keep your home screen looking less cluttered, and it will make finding them easy. You can categorize them into folders based on type (like social media, photography, finances, ect.) I like to do it according to color – Home Edit style, because I find this more visually pleasing. This may seem inefficient, but your brain quickly learns where to find each app.

Adjacent to our phones is social media. First, evaluate which social media apps you really want to spend your time on, and delete any that aren’t serving you! You can also declutter the people you follow on each social media platform, only keeping around the people who are helpful. If there are people who make you feel sad or upset about your life, or just create more mental health issues, I would suggest hitting the unfollow button!

Using a digital calendar can be really helpful for reminders and to access your calendar from anywhere. I like to use both physical and digital calendars. Keep your calendar up to date by setting aside time each week or each month to update all of your appointments and commitments. If you need to also keep track of other family member’s schedules, I  like to use a different color for each member of the family.

Lastly, I wanted to share that using sites like Google Docs and Google Sheets can help to keep things organized as well. There are functions within these sites/apps that allow you to create folders in order to keep things organized. You can then access these files easily on your phone through the apps. It also makes it easy to share files with others. I like to keep recipes in a folder in my Google Docs to access while I’m cooking!

Well, I hope this post gave you some inspiration or helpful information for you to get your digital space decluttered and organized today!

10 Reasons Why It’s So Difficult To Declutter

Decluttering can be tough! Today I wanted to share 10 reasons why decluttering is so difficult and ideas and tips to combat those reasons.

{{ONE}} The first reason people may find it difficult to declutter is that they are OVERTHINKING. When decluttering, decisions should be made quickly. I would say within 5-10 seconds your gut instinct is likely right. Believe me, I know this is tough because I am probably the queen of overthinking! Not just with decluttering, but literally everything in life! This is something you need to just train yourself to do, and like anything else it gets easier with practice.

{{TWO}} The second reason is because THE ITEM IS SENTIMENTAL. Decluttering sentimental items can be very difficult. My encouragement on this one is actually to do the opposite of what I just suggested above and with sentimental items give yourself time. You need to be ready to let go of sentimental items. It can take time to get there, and that’s okay. There is no right or wrong amount of sentimental items to own because each person is different. One idea, which I got from the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning, is to think about if this is something your children or the younger generation would want to hold onto. Is this meaningful to just you, or would it be meaningful to your family members when you are gone?

{{THREE}} The third reason it is difficult to declutter is adjacent to sentimental items and that is it’s NOT EASY TO REPLACE. It can be difficult to let go of sentimental items because they cannot be replaced, but there are other reasons why items might be difficult to replace. Perhaps it is vintage or no longer in production so you can’t just go out and get the same thing. Or perhaps you don’t have the financial means to replace something readily. I am definitely sympathetic to these reasons and recognize sometimes you need to be intentional about the decluttering process.

{{FOUR}} Number four is that IT WAS A GIFT. This one is tough. I have talked about this in blog posts before. My take on gifts is that once the giver gives you the gift, the item belongs to you and you have a right to do with it as you please. You can appreciate the gesture behind the gift being given to you, and perhaps you used it or it was meaningful to you for a period of time. However, I think it is silly to be expected to keep every gift ever given to you. If an item is no longer being used or loved, it makes more sense to pass it along to someone who could get value from it. I am sure the gift giver would feel the same way, and would not want the gift to just clutter up your space or cause you stress.

{{FIVE}} The fifth reason decluttering might be difficult for you is because you are trying to do too much and EXPERIENCE DECISION FATIGUE. I recognize that there might be certain instances where you do need to go through a large amount of things in a short time – perhaps you are going through a deceased loved one’s home, you’re moving, or there are some other time frames put on you. If this is not the case, don’t feel like you need to declutter your entire home in one weekend! Or even an entire room. Know your limits on decision fatigue and come up with a plan based on that. I encourage people to set a timer or pick one space that is manageable – like one drawer – and then come back again at a later time. These things can help with preventing decision fatigue.

{{SIX}} The sixth reason is that you are PUTTING TOO MUCH VALUE OR IMPORTANCE ON YOUR STUFF. This one was a tough one for me to face in my own life. If you really think about what is important in life, none of it is stuff. For me the most important things are in the category of relationships or experiences. Most stuff can be replaced. If we have this perspective, decluttering becomes easier.

{{SEVEN}} The seventh reason is that you don’t have ENOUGH TIME. Like I mentioned previously, instead of thinking about decluttering your entire house, focus on one space at a time. Setting a timer for 15 minutes a day, or even a week, is better than not decluttering at all.

{{EIGHT}} Number eight is adjacent to number seven, and that is you FEEL OVERWHELMED. When you have a lot to declutter, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. You don’t know where to start. My advice is to just pick a place and start! I encourage people to start with an area of your home that gets the most traffic. When you see progress in a place where you are spending a lot of time it can give you the motivation to keep going. Another tip is to choose a place that the decisions are easier to make – like in the kitchen or bathroom. These places have a lot of items that can be easily replaced. There is usually no sentimental attachment to items in these spaces as well, making the decision making easier. As we make decluttering decisions, it gets easier over time!

{{NINE}} The ninth reason people find it difficult to declutter is that they DON’T HAVE MOTIVATION. This is a tough one and I’m sympathetic to this as there are other areas in my life which I struggle with motivation. If decluttering becomes part of your every day or every week routine, over time it gets easier. There are always going to be things in life that we don’t really want to do, but as long as items are coming into your home, decluttering should be a regular practice.

{{TEN}} Lastly, number ten is that IT’S NOT YOUR STUFF. I am also very sympathetic to this one! I have a husband and three kids, so I have had to learn to allow them to declutter their own items and to be patient and understanding when they keep things that I would get rid of! My best advice is to just be an example to them of letting go of your own items which no longer serve you. Over time, they will see the value in living with less. It is also an opportunity to grow as a person, because everyone has a certain level of external chaos they can handle and if a family member is not bothered by their stuff, we need to learn to live with it because the relationship is important to us!

Well, I hope these ideas were helpful to you. Decluttering is not always easy, but as we make it a regular part of our lives, it does get easier over time!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

5 Things To Declutter In December

It’s December! One of the busiest months of the year for most of us! But I wanted to encourage you to spend a little bit of time decluttering this month with certain items that make sense to evaluate in December!

The first item is TOYS! It is smart to declutter toys prior to the inflow of new toys from Christmas gifts. It can be difficult to find a home for all the new toys that arrive on Christmas morning, so evaluating which toys your children no longer play with, finding broken toys or toys with missing pieces will help make room for the new items. If you purchased toys for your children, you can determine which category they fit in and see if other toys in that category can go. It’s always good to involve your children when decluttering toys at the appropriate age. Helping them understand that there is limited space for their toys and they should choose toys they no longer love to make room for the new toys that they will get for Christmas. Perhaps if the toys are gently used you could find a women’s shelter to donate to, helping your children learn to be giving – which is perfect for this time of year!

Next up is Christmas decor. This is the perfect time to evaluate which decor did not go up this year and determine if perhaps it’s time for it to go! Oftentimes if we don’t put it up this year, it is even less likely we will display it in the future. Be realistic about if it makes sense to store these items away for yet another year!

The third category of items to declutter in December is wrapping paper and wrapping accessories. When you are done wrapping all of your gifts for the season, it is a great time to determine if it is worth holding onto the scrap ends, stray tags, and extra ribbon. Certainly some of it might be worth holding onto for the next year, but really evaluate if you would actually use it a year from now.

The fourth category is winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. I know that in some parts of the country or world, you are well into the winter season with cooler weather! For me, here in Austin, the cool weather is just beginning! This is a great time to determine which coats and accessories you are wearing and which you are not. There might be a local charity for the homeless or perhaps a women’s shelter that would appreciate these items for the winter months.

The last category is kitchen items. During the holidays is probably when you are in the kitchen the most, using more of your kitchen items and gadgets than usual. Be honest with yourself if you are really using all the casserole dishes and spatulas that you own! Or perhaps you have holiday themed dishes that you had good intentions to use but never did. Now is a great time to declutter because you know if these items are actually useful to you!

Well, I hope this list of items you could easily declutter in December was helpful to you! Happy decluttering!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

Six Decluttering Tips To Give You Momentum

Decluttering can be difficult and daunting. Sometimes it’s just getting started that is the hardest part! I wanted to share with you six tips to help you with the decluttering process. At the end of this blog post I will share with you a PDF printable document with a list of spaces in your home that you can declutter!

The first tip is to get rid of old things you are replacing immediately. If you are replacing an item, whether it’s a broken toaster, or a worn out set of dishes, immediately put the old items in the donation bin. You don’t even have to think about if you should or shouldn’t since you are replacing it with a new item. If you don’t get rid of it immediately, you may end up forgetting and having duplicates of the same type of item in your home.

The second tip is don’t second guess yourself – once it’s in the donation box, it stays there. It can be tempting to revisit the donation bin and second guess if you made the right decision. I would suggest if you have items that you are on the fence about to have a separate bin where you can store these items for a fixed amount of time (usually 6 months is a good amount of time), then move them to the donation bin once you realize that you didn’t miss the items. Usually there is a reason you initially put an item in the donation bin, so don’t second guess that gut instinct.

The third tip is don’t declutter other people’s stuff – you’re not responsible for it! Allow other people – whether that’s a spouse, children, or other family members living with you – to declutter their own items. It’s very important to allow people to make decisions about their own possessions. If you declutter someone else’s things, you risk having tension in the relationship and there is a good chance that they will bring more things into the space when you declutter their items without permission.

The fourth tip is to start with easy/non-sentimental items. It can be very time-consuming and therefore discouraging to start with decluttering sentimental items. When decluttering items that you don’t have a sentimental attachment to, or they are easier to replace, it makes the decluttering process go more quickly. Oftentimes with decluttering, you just need momentum to continue the process. Starting with something like decluttering kitchen items will make it easy and quick to make decisions giving you confidence moving forward.

The fifth tip is to set a timer. This makes it feel easier, like you’re not going to spend the entire day decluttering. Setting a timer allows your brain to know that you will only be working on this project for a finite amount of time. Sometimes decluttering projects can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to declutter everything in one space all at once. Decluttering a few items is better than none.

The sixth and final tip is to have fun! Don’t overcomplicate it! Can decluttering be fun?? A couple of months ago, I played the Minimalism Game to declutter my home. If you’re not familiar with this game, you spend one month focusing on decluttering. On day one you declutter one item, on day two two items, on day three three items, and so on and so forth through the whole month. You end up decluttering over 400 items! This was a fun way to get things decluttered from my home. You could also enlist your family members’ help for items that belong to the whole family – like movies or games. Maybe take a vote on each one, and the majority wins! Or perhaps you could have a contest with other family members to see who can fill a box or bag of items to declutter the fastest! There are many creative ways to declutter that are fun and make it not as stressful as it could otherwise be!

I hope these tips gave you some inspiration on how you can declutter in your home today! Use this free printable to give you ideas on different spaces in your home that may need to be decluttered.

7 Reasons We Keep Clothes + Ideas To Declutter Clothes

Today I wanted to share with you common reasons we tend to hold onto clothes, and some ideas for letting go. It can be overwhelming to downsize our wardrobe, especially if we are not in the habit of purging items from our closet and the job has gotten out of control. The best advice I have if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a decluttering project is to take it in bite size pieces. Choose one drawer a week to go through, or set a timer for an allotted amount of time. Oftentimes getting started is the most difficult part. Once we start, we have momentum to continue forward.

{{ONE}} We feel guilty about the amount of money we spent on the items. This is probably the number one reason we find it hard to declutter clothes – and really any items from our home. It can be difficult to just give away items that we have spent money on. If the items are in relatively good condition, an alternative is to sell these clothes. You could choose a consignment platform like Poshmark (my go-to), or Mercari. You could send it to Thread Up if you don’t want the clothes just sitting in your home as you wait for them to sell, or you could bring them to a local consignment shop to get some of your money back. You won’t make as much money with Thread Up or a consignment shop, but then the clothes are out of your house. If you have enough items in general that you are wanting to get rid of, another option is to have a good old fashioned garage sale. I have found it much easier to let go of items that I am on the fence about when I can make some money back. Lastly, if you have taken a basic economics course, then you learned about “sunk cost.” Basically, sometimes we make poor financial decisions, but keeping the item doesn’t get us the money back. If anything, every time we see that item we think – either consciously or subconsciously – that we spent money on that, but no longer love it/want it. It might be better to just get it out of our field of vision!

{{TWO}} We think we might lose – or even gain – weight. Sometimes we hang onto clothing items that used to fit us, but no longer fit because we have gained weight. We hold onto them as though it was an incentive to lose the weight to get back into that size. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem where you went through a weight loss journey and you’re concerned you will gain the weight back. Either way, I personally don’t keep items that are too big or too small. It can be discouraging to have that pair of jeans two sizes too small sitting in the back of your closet. Instead, perhaps you could use the incentive of purchasing new items when/if you do lose the weight. And if you went through a weight loss journey, it could be cathartic to get rid of all of those large clothes believing you WILL maintain the weight you are at currently. Certainly there are exceptions. If you are expecting a baby, you will likely need different sizes in your wardrobe to account for different stages of pregnancy and postpartum.

{{THREE}} We have sentimental attachment. This is a tough one. It may take time to be ready to let go of some of these items. When beginning the process of decluttering, I agree with Marie Kondo, it is wise to leave sentimental items until the end. This gives you momentum, and you also begin to “learn how to declutter.” You begin to feel more confident in your choices to part with things. If you have things like school or sports team t-shirts that you don’t want to let go of, consider having a quilt/blanket made out of the t-shirts/jerseys so you can still appreciate and enjoy them without having a box of them stuffed in the back of your closet. Other items that have sentimental value could be displayed in your home so you are able to appreciate them. Get a shadow box for that special jersey, or the outfit you brought your child home from the hospital in. Find a way to display/enjoy it, instead of continuing to allow these items to sit in a box in a closet or attic space. Perhaps you could pick your favorite few – maybe you don’t need to keep an entire tote of baby clothes from when your children were babies. Choose a couple of memorable outfits. Or perhaps you can keep a couple of school t-shirts instead of 13 from every year of school from kindergarten through 12th grade!

{{FOUR}} We don’t have time/don’t want to spend our time this way. I understand this. Honestly, in the end, it comes down to what is important to you. If you are okay with and not bothered by overflowing closets and drawers, then you do you. But, I would imagine if you’re reading this post, you are interested in paring down your wardrobe. As I mentioned, you don’t have to do the Konmari method and pile all your clothes from every drawer and hanger into the middle of your room. You could focus on a little at a time – choosing one drawer, or one section of your closet. Another idea is to purge clothing items by category. Sometimes you don’t realize how many of one category you own – so taking inventory of all of your shorts, or all of your sweaters at once may give you a better idea of what to get rid of. Think realistically about how many items in each category you might need. Think about the climate you live in and how often you do laundry. Another idea would be to set a timer. If you don’t have hours to spend decluttering. Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, then grab a bag or box and start filling it with the items you know you no longer wear. Another trick I use is to turn your hangers backwards, then turn them back forwards as you wear/wash each item. After 6 months to a year (depending on how temperate your climate is) you will get an idea of which clothes you are wearing. If turning your hangers around seems like a lot of work, push all your clothes to one end of your closet, then hang them back up at the other end as you wear/wash them.

{{FIVE}} It was a gift. I think it is a universal feeling to feel guilt getting rid of something someone gave to you. Even if you are someone who doesn’t attach sentimental value to things readily, it is difficult. I’m sure it’s even more difficult for those who do attach sentimental value to items. The truth is, when someone gives you a gift, that item now belongs to you which means you can do with it what you please. You can appreciate their gesture and experience the joy of the act of giving in that moment, but if this item is not useful to you or does not bring you joy then it is silly to hold onto it just because it was given to you. If the person who gave you the item would be upset because you didn’t use it or you gave it away – that is a boundary issue they have, not you. Usually, your friends and relatives would not want an item they gave you to cause stress or clutter in your home. I think most people would rather the item that they spent money on be given to someone else who would use itl than for it sit in a drawer or closet in your home.

{{SIX}} We have space in our closet.  I relate well to this one. I used to not purge things that were difficult to purge because I had the space for it, so why not just leave it. The truth is, physical clutter can cause mental clutter. If every time you open your closet or drawers and they are filled to the top, your brain has to process everything that is in there. With less stuff, it’s less the brain has to process. I am beginning to enjoy having empty spaces in my home! For me personally, I realize that one day we will likely downsize and live in a smaller home. I like the idea of being able to slowly over time purge my items rather than being forced into it when we do choose to downsize. Even further down the road (or not since we never know!) when we leave this earth we will leave our things behind, and our family will have to make choices about what to do with those things. I don’t want my stuff to become a burden to my children or family members.

{{SEVEN}} We think we want lots of options. This may be true for some people. I have thought about trying to transition to a capsule wardrobe, but even I like to have a variety of choices when it comes to clothes. One thing I have found helpful for myself is to have a “uniform” then having options within that uniform. I pretty much assemble the same look every day, just with different items. But, some people want all different kinds of styles and options within those styles. I think having too many options can be overwhelming and contribute to decision fatigue. This may be the main reason people want to declutter their closets in the first place. They might not be able to put their finger on why, but ultimately it’s that there are too many choices in our closets. By using some of the techniques and tips mentioned earlier, you can pare down your wardrobe so it’s easy to get dressed each day and you love what you are wearing EVERYDAY! Can you say that now??

I hope this gave you some motivation or inspiration to reassess how many clothing items you own! It can be tough to declutter clothes, but if you do a little at a time it can be less overwhelming!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!