A piece of paper with the words "Common Mistakes" written in red marker. Below that is the sentence "And how to fix them!" in parenthesis in blue. There is also a red marker to the left side of the words.

6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

If you’ve had trouble achieving your decluttering goals and are trying to figure out why, it might be because you’ve fallen prey to one (or more) common decluttering pitfalls. Find out what they are and simple tips to avoid them.

Decluttering Mistakes That Might Be Holding You Back

Holding you back - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

Decluttering challenges vary from person to person, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to overcoming them. While not an exhaustive list, these are six of the most common mistakes I see people making that sabotage decluttering success, PLUS simple tips to get past them.

Decluttering Mistake #1: Leaving It For Your Spare Time

Spare Time - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

Life is busy, and if you wait for an opening in your schedule to declutter, you’ll likely never get it done. If you want to declutter, schedule a specific time like any other commitment.  


And don’t worry if you don’t have large blocks of time you can devote to decluttering. Just try “mini-decluttering”: breaking down large spaces into manageable 10-20-minute decluttering tasks you tackle one at a time. 


For example, instead of tackling the whole kitchen, tackle one category at a time, like cooking utensils, dishes, or mugs, at a time. Instead of tackling your entire closet, tackle one type of clothing or accessory at a time. These small projects add up to big changes over time. For 30 easy 10-20 minute decluttering tasks, click here. 

Decluttering Mistake #2: Failing To Set A Specific Goal

Goal - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

Having a specific goal and writing it down before you begin decluttering can keep you focused and motivated when you’re in the thick of it. But the goal can’t be the generic “I want to be clutter-free.” 

It must be clear and tied to a specific outcome: “I’m decluttering my closet to make getting ready faster and easier, so mornings are less hectic and stressful.”

Decluttering Mistake #3: Not Pulling EVERYTHING Out & Sorting 

Pull it all out - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

When you pull everything out and sort similar items together, you see HOW MUCH of each category you have.

Does it take time and make things a bit messy initially? Yes. 




Is it worth it? Absolutely!


It’s always an eye-opening experience that significantly impacts the editing process. I promise you do not get the same results when shuffling things around a space.

Decluttering Mistake #4: Focusing On What To Let Go Of

Focus - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

Most people approach decluttering as choosing what they’re getting rid of, making the process more difficult. Instead, choose the things you’re going to KEEP because you genuinely love and/or use them, and they help you achieve your specific goal (back to the point from mistake #2 😉)

Focusing on choosing items to keep because they align with your goal makes letting go of anything that doesn’t much easier.

Decluttering Mistake #5: Pausing To Deal With Items

Relocate - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

It’s common when decluttering to come across items that need to be moved to other rooms or addressed. But, pausing to “quickly” deal with these items dramatically increases the chances you’ll get sidetracked and completing your project will take much longer.

Resist the urge, and instead, designate Keep, Toss, Donate, Relocate, and To-Do piles/boxes and place everything in the appropriate spot as you go. Then, give yourself a few minutes at the end of each decluttering session to deal with the things you encountered. 

You’ll avoid getting distracted, keep your momentum going and complete the space you’re working on faster. For free printable sorting signs to help with the process, click here.

Decluttering Mistake #6: Not Removing Decluttered Items ASAP

Out of house - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid


Not only does this give you less time to second-guess your decisions, but boxes or bags of decluttered items in a closet, garage, or entryway are still clutter! You worked hard making those decisions; finish the process by getting the items out of your house. 


If possible, place them in your vehicle right away. The next time you’re near where the items need to go (donation location, friends, family), you can drop them off. For a free Donation, ReSale and Disposal Guide, click here.

Resources To Deal With Other Decluttering Obstacles


Other obstacles - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

Of course, many other decluttering obstacles can get in the way of achieving decluttering goals. I’ve previously written in detail on many, and you can find links to these resources below: 


1) Sentimental Items: This post offers for tips and strategies to help you go through and edit sentimental items.


2) Someday Clutter: Click here for tips and strategies to deal with “I might need it someday” clutter.




3) Guilt/Something was Expensive: For help letting go of items that were gifts or you “spent good money on,” click here.


4) Clothes: For tips to help edit your wardrobe, click here.


5) Paper Clutter: I did a four-part series on dealing with paper clutter: Part One: Quickly Sorting Through Paper Clutter; Part Two: Creating File Categories That Work; Part Three: Creating A Lasting Paper System; and Part Four: Tips For Paper Maintenance.


6) Overwhelmed By The Thought of Even Beginning: Read this post with tips to break overwhelming projects down into manageable steps. Or try this list of 65 Easy This To Declutter.


conclusion - 6 Decluttering Mistakes To Avoid

While decluttering can be hard, it IS possible to make it easier on yourself. Just follow my simple tips to avoid these six common decluttering mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to decluttering success! 


Have you been falling prey to any of these decluttering mistakes? Let me know in the comments below. And if you liked this post, please share it!



Happy decluttering!