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Decluttering: Why We Delay It & Is It Really So Difficult?

Let’s be frank, making decisions is hard. And decluttering, if you think about it, is nothing more than decisions that we are postponing. Where to file that stack of letters on my desk that I may need one day (so I’ll just postpone it). I want to recycle those plastic bottles, but right now I can’t get to a recycling bin, so I’ll just put it to the side (postpone it). I need to sell that equipment on some online classified website, so I’ll squeeze it here in the corner of my office until I get to it one day (postpone it).

And yes, for all the above examples, I just looked around my office 

Why do we delay decluttering, and is it really so difficult?

But first, why would I want to declutter? Here’s the thing, you can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk. How many times have we wanted to take on some new and exciting projects, but we can’t because we’ve got this junk that we’re carrying around. Or maybe you stumble on some charming furniture, but you can’t get it because you’ve already got cluttered stuff idling at home.

And clutter isn’t just in your home, closets, garage or office space. Clutter can also and frequently be found in our minds. Clutter can also be found in old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Like a sofa that already has three lazy people sitting on it with no room for anyone else, clutter steals space from the marvelous things that need a seat in your life.

Why do we clutter up in the first place? We think of clutter as all one thing, but that’s not the case. There are different categories of clutter. Let’s take a look at a few of them that we can all relate to:

1. Clutter without a storage space

These are things piling up on your desk, or closet or wherever, that isn’t precisely clutter. It’s just pens that don’t have a pen holder. Papers that don’t have a basket. Books that don’t have a shelf. You don’t have storage space design, so it ends up being clutter when it shouldn’t.

2. Trash pretending to be clutter

Some stuff just seriously needs to be thrown away or given away. Clothes we will never wear, equipment we’ll never use, stuff that we know needs to go. Sometimes this piles up because we are postponing the decisions, other times we delude ourselves into thinking that ‘one day I might need this’ even though years have gone by.

Case study: True story, I have a car brush duster. It’s big and takes up space in my trunk. I think I bought it three years ago, and probably used it twice. Why do I keep carrying it around with me everywhere? Being honest, I keep thinking to myself that it’s valuable, and someone might use it, so let me just postpone throwing it away until one day I can find someone to give it to. The problem is, that’s simply an excuse I tell myself to justify postponing the inevitable.

3. Aspirational clutter

It’s clutter that you keep around because you hope, one day, you’ll do something amazing with it. Books that you tell yourself you’re going to use, one day, when you write that novel.