13 BIG Decluttering Barriers That Are Holding You Back


Declutter everything and start fresh – sounds GREAT, right? But what if you can’t declutter ANYTHING? Perhaps you have one of these 13 barriers to decluttering holding you back?

If you struggle to get rid of anything and/or you keep EVERYTHING, keep reading to see if one of these barriers is causing your inability to declutter your home.
Declutter Everything - how to declutter when overwhelmed and keep everything. These barriers to decluttering prevent aggressive decluttering of 30 years of stuff. How to declutter everything when you can't declutter anything

Declutter Everything?

So you’re at the point where you want to declutter EVERYTHING – what does that even mean? Why do you feel that way?

Do you REALLY want to throw everything away and start over?

If you have a form of OCD called compulsive decluttering, you actually might compulsively throw things away to an extreme (ie, you do NOT have any problems with decluttering).

But odds are good that you’re reading this because you want to declutter everything – but just can’t actually DO it.

When you feel overwhelmed and want to declutter everything it means you have decluttering barriers that are holding you back and you’re frustrated. The good news is that these 13 barriers to decluttering below are NOT your fault, but you can learn them, acknowledge them and do what you can to remove those barriers and finally get your clutter under control.

Barriers To Decluttering

Here are 13 BIG barriers to decluttering that can actually make you feel paralyzed by clutter.

These are BIG roadblocks that most likely are NOT your fault.

I’m not going to get all woo-woo and talk about not being able to get rid of things that don’t bring joy or any of that stuff.

I want to talk about REAL barriers to decluttering – and offer some tips on how to overcome those barriers.

Barriers to decluttering - declutter everything when you keep everything and have too much stuff - declutrring tips and tricks for decluttering when feeling overwhelmed

1. You Want To Keep EVERYTHING

When you want to declutter everything it means you’re overwhelmed and want to get rid of everything because it’s all too much to deal with.

In short, you can’t seem to declutter ANYTHING because you want to KEEP everything.

Is it possible you are a hoarder or pack rat?

Those 2 conditions can be MAJOR barriers to decluttering.

It’s also possible you have Decluttering Guilt.

Yes, this is a VERY real thing!

In short, you feel bad… feel GUILTY getting rid of things – so you keep EVERYTHING.

2. You Have YEARS Of Stuff

My friend, Grace, has lived in her home for over 3 decades – she quickly figured out that it can be very challenging figuring out how to declutter 30 YEARS of stuff – but it CAN be done.

Yep, Grace kept just about EVERYTHING and she was at the point where she just wanted it all gone.

To make this story short, Grace decided to get help and tips from a Professional Organizer who really helped her conquer her years of clutter.

3. You’re NOT Being Realistic

I know you WANT to declutter everything in ONE day, but is that really realistic for your situation?

Instead of making this big purge plan to declutter everything in a single day, decide which room to START decluttering first, then make a plan from there.

Sure, your home MIGHT be able to achieve “clutter free” status is just a day, but odds are good if you’re reading this, that time frame may not be realistic.

4. You Don’t Know HOW To Declutter

Not knowing HOW to declutter is one of the biggest barriers to decluttering of all.

But listen, it’s ok… it’s probably not your fault.

We all aren’t wired the same.

I have friends and family that find decluttering and getting rid of stuff so easy – it’s natural for them.

For me? Not so much.

I had to LEARN decluttering strategies that work and keep doing it in order for it to become even close to a habit.

It did NOT come naturally for me.

5. Your Mind Messes With You

Here’s why decluttering did not come easy or naturally for me – I have a touch of ADD (or ADHD, as they call it now, but I don’t have the “H” part).

Now, I am NOT a doctor, ok? But it is possible that you, like me, have something going on in your brainwaves that makes the whole decluttering process even more challenging.

For me, the ADD thing made it virtually impossible to consistently get rid of things.

Instead, it went like this:

– Continue to keep everything

– Let it all build up

– Stuff closes in on me

– Get mad at myself

– Go into an extreme decluttering mood

– Decide to declutter EVERYTHING

– Declutter a few things

– Lose focus and/or get WAY to overwhelmed

– Give up

Then, the whole process above would repeat… over and over.

My mind was messing with me – making me feel like I just could NOT do it… when I really can.

I had to seriously work on that – it was a HUGE barrier to decluttering successfully for me.

I’m not here to diagnose you, but if you relate to my experience, here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned to help me declutter with ADD (ADHD):

  1. Start with the end in mind
  2. It made decluttering easier when I visualized exactly how I wanted the area to look when I was done decluttering it.

    Not just a general “It looks better” type of thing, but a real end goal that I could work backwards from.

    I’m good with checklists and a plan (if it’s not TOO overwhelming in my mind), so once I “saw” what I wanted, I could better plan how to achieve it.

  3. Declutter FAST
  4. I had to allow myself to declutter as fast as my brain was going – or else I’d get tripped up.

    I literally had to pick something up and instantly do something with it (ie, put it where it goes – or get rid of it).

  5. Use a “Don’t Know” Basket
  6. The one big thing that would stop me in my tracks is when I would pick up an item and FREEZE – because I don’t know WHAT to do with it.

    For these situations, I bring a laundry basket with me and toss those “I Don’t Know WHAT To Do With It” items in the basket.

    This kept me moving and making progress.

  7. Use Your Phone
  8. Being able to SEE what I have (or have NOT) accomplished goes a long way for me.

    I simply take a picture with my phone of how the area looks before…and after… I declutter it.

    Sounds silly, I know – but it really helps me.

  9. Don’t Force It
  10. Trying to guilt myself into decluttering never worked. The more I tried to force myself into action, the more “paralyzed” I got.

Getting rid of clutter is HARD – so make whatever adjustments YOU need to push past your barriers.

6. You Set Yourself Up For Failure

In my example above, this is EXACTLY what I was doing – I was setting myself up for failure by not learning how to declutter gradually and consistently.

Instead, my cluttered junky house became more than I felt I was capable of dealing with.

Yep, a lot of that was just how MY brain ticks… but our brains can play tricks on us.

You are NOT lazy just because you can’t seem to clean the clutter – you might need to look into WHY before you can truly get past this particular barrier

7. You’re Decluttering the WRONG Way

Did you know that you should NEVER declutter with BOXES.

Yep, it’s another “brain thing” – but it’s a big deal.

Decluttering with boxes is a BIG decluttering mistake to avoid.

I’ll let you read the full article, but in short…

Boxes = KEEP

8. You’re Organizing Your Clutter

Organizing and decluttering are two very different things.

When you want to declutter everything, room by room, that does NOT mean keeping everything and just organizing it (or hiding it).

Declutter means GET RID OF IT.

Declutter = LESS STUFF

Once you have removed the clutter, THEN you organize what’s left.

9. You Get Stuck On ‘Might Need’

How many times have you picked up an item with plans to declutter it only to think:

“Well, it’s a good thing and… I MIGHT NEED it SOME DAY”

I used to struggle with that ALL THE TIME.

Even if I had said thing for 20 years and NEVER USED IT… I still couldn’t get past the mental block that maybe SOMEDAY I’d use it.

If you’ve never used it, you probably never WILL use it.

Why not give it, or sell it, to someone who WILL use it?

10. You’re Just MOVING Clutter

My neighbor, who I shall not name, was outside the other day and it appeared she was doing some extreme decluttering in her home.

She had the back of her husband’s truck loaded with STUFF… AND there was a trailer hooked behind the truck with even MORE stuff.

She waved when she saw me and we chatted for a few minutes.

Yes, she WAS doing an aggressive declutter in her home.

BUT, she was taking ALL that STUFF to a new storage unit they just rented.

So now, she was going to be paying more money to store her clutter.

Nope, the clutter IN her home, but she still had it – and that clutter was still costing her time and money.

All she was doing was MOVING her clutter…

Don’t do that.

11. You’re Grieving

Grief is tricky.

Since I’m not a grief counselor or a doctor, I’m not going to expand on how grieving can be either a big barrier to decluttering – or a big catalyst TO declutter EVERYTHING.

All I will say is that if you are grieving and struggling with things, talk to someone and work through the emotions best you can.

12. You Don’t Have Enough TIME

This specific barrier to decluttering is one I want you to be VERY kind to yourself about, ok?

Is it VERY possible that you simply do not TRULY have the time to dig in and declutter your home – and it’s a cluttered MESS.

Kids, pets, spouse, full time job, daily cleaning chores, family, holidays, obligations, etc etc ETC all seem to come WAY before doing any sort of decluttering in your home.

Take a breath and forgive yourself (not that there’s really anything TO forgive – you’re human…and crazy busy!)

Then, use this quick decluttering tip to help you learn how to declutter gradually.

13. You’re Not Inspired…Enough

We all need a different type of motivation to declutter our homes.

Some folks find motivation naturally.

Others need more of a challenge to get us motivated to clean it up.

Perhaps a Declutter Challenge could help you get past this decluttering barrier?

Miss Anything?

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