Why Decluttering is So Hard | How to Overcome

Why Decluttering Is So Hard


We know decluttering is the answer, but we think to ourselves, “decluttering is so hard.” 


When you envision your dream home, what does it look like? Does it have piles of papers sitting on the kitchen counter? Does it have a basement overflowing with things you don’t use? Does it have a closet that you can’t open because things will spill out? I doubt you imagine these things in your dream home, but I’m betting some of these things are in your real home.


Why? Why are you keeping your home from being a space that you love and enjoy? Is that overstuffed closet giving you a headache? Do you wish you could use the space in your basement more productively?


6 Reasons Why Decluttering Is So Hard


I’m going to address 6 main reasons why people have a hard time getting rid of their stuff. Plus, I will give you some tips to overcome those obstacles.


First, I want you to understand that there really is a lot of psychology behind how we think about our material possessions. We often link our possessions to different memories, emotions, feelings of self-worth and so on.


We often subconsciously make a link between what we have and who we are. We feel as if letting go of our possessions means letting go of a part of ourselves.


While you can express yourself through your possessions, don’t let your possession rule who you are. The material possessions you have obtained in this life do not make you worthy or worthless. Your heart is what really matters.


So don’t let what you possess own you. Learn to let go and free up some space in your home and your mind. Learning how to declutter will do so much for you than give you more space in your home.


If you want to know more about the psychology behind putting our self-worth in our belongings, I recommend reading this study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. 


why decluttering is so hard and what to do about it #declutter

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#1 I Can’t Find Time to Declutter


The biggest reason why decluttering is so hard is because you don’t feel like you have time. Time is hard to come by. This life is busy and society puts pressure on us to be busy. It’s like if you aren’t on the go all of the time, then you are doing something wrong. I get it. Time is hard to come by, but it’s also an excuse. You make time for what is important. Really want to declutter? Then make time.


Declutter in Sections


Okay, so, I realize that is probably not what you wanted to hear. Just remember it’s a process. Give yourself a break and don’t expect to get it all done at once. The best way to make time is by chunking up your house into a bunch of small sections. Don’t think about decluttering your bedroom. Think about decluttering your closet. If you have a big closet then think about decluttering one rack or one shelf.


Declutter As You Go


It also helps to do things as you go. Need to declutter your makeup bag? Take 5 minutes and go through it when you finish up your make up. Go through extra products in the bathroom on your bathroom cleaning day. Clean out the refrigerator while you wait for the water to boil.


Get A Baby Sitter


Another way to make time is to have grandma watch the kids for a day while you tackle as much clutter as you can. Do this a couple of times and your house will be in tip-top shape in no time.


Related: Find Time to Declutter When You Don’t Have Time


#2 The Clutter Is Overwhelming and I Don’t Know Where To Start


This goes hand in hand with not feeling like you have enough time. You stare at the piles of junk and the overstuffed closets and you don’t know where to start. You ask yourself how things got like this and you feel it’s gone too far to ever go back. NOT TRUE!


It will take you less time to declutter your whole house than it took you to get into this mess. You can continue to let it get worse and worse, or you can stop the madness!


Add Some Fun And Ask For Help


You can lessen the overwhelm by adding some fun and asking for help. Add fun by turning on your favorite tunes or even your favorite television show. Also, try setting a timer to see how much you can get done in a set amount of time.


If you enjoy reading you can also add some fun by reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Reading this will definitely get you motivated to declutter. This book is very inspirational and will help you overcome all of your decluttering obstacles. Better yet, you can listen to the audiobook while you declutter! If that isn’t a genius idea, then I don’t know what is.


**You can even get The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for FREE. Sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Audible and get two free audiobooks! Sign up here. 


Okay, let’s get back to it and talk about how you should ask for help when needing to declutter…


Asking for help was one of the best things that I did. I got a ton of help with our basement when it was in really bad shape. My in-laws helped us carry some of the heavy stuff out. Then, in one afternoon, I was able to get the whole place in order with some help from my mom.


Related: How To Clean Your House When The Mess Is Overwhelming


#3 I Feel Guilting When I Start To Declutter


Decluttering is so hard because you will feel guilty about getting rid of stuff… at first. I know you are holding onto things that you don’t use and that serve no purpose in your home, because of guilt. You feel guilty because someone gave it to you and feel like you have to keep it.


It sits in a cabinet and you have never used it, but you won’t get rid of it. Or perhaps you feel guilty because you spent a lot of money on something like a shirt… that you never wear. You tell yourself, “That’s a really nice shirt, that I spent a lot of money on, I should really wear it.”


Yet, it still sits in your closet… unworn; because let’s be honest, it’s not really your style and it was an impulse buy.


Despite all of this guilt you are feeling, you really just need to let it go.


Give It purpose By Giving It Away


Somehow the guilt goes away with the object. That gift that you aren’t using… it can be given to someone who will use it. It is going to waste sitting in your cabinet. The person who gave it to you, probably wanted you to love it, but they love you more and don’t want you hanging onto guilt about an object that is no use to you.


That money you wasted on that fancy shirt you don’t wear… it’s already wasted. You bought the shirt, the deal is done, the money is already spent. Every time you see it in your closet and decide not to wear it, you feel guilty. Just let it go. You might even be able to sell it and get some of your money back. Or give it away for free to someone who really needs it. The guilt will go away with the shirt.


#4 I Might Need This One Day


Decluttering is so hard because you don’t want to get of something and end up needing it later. Be completely honest with yourself. Will you ever actually use it? Have you ever used it? What is the worst thing that could happen if you end up needing it and you have gotten rid of it?


You might have to buy it again. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having to borrow it from someone.


However, this rarely, if ever, happens. It has happened to me with one item. Other than that, I have never missed a single thing I have gotten rid of.


#5 My Significant Other Doesn’t Want to Get Rid of Things


Decluttering is so hard because everyone in the house is not on board. This can happen and this is okay. First of all, it’s okay if your “person” doesn’t want to get rid of their things while you are ready to throw all of yours out the window. I’m guessing it’s taken you some time to come to the conclusion that decluttering is what you need. Give your spouse, or whoever, some time and they may come to this conclusion too.


You can declutter plenty of things without even touching items that belong to your spouse. They will see the benefits, enjoy the cleaner house, and begin to feel more comfortable with letting go of some of their things.


If you want to declutter their belongings or things that you share, include them in the process and ask for their input.


Quick Tips For Helping Your Spouse Declutter


  • Start with clothing, this seems to be the easiest for people to get rid of
  • Suggest items you would like to get rid of and tell them why
  • If they aren’t ready to part with something, then don’t force it
  • Place items in storage as a trial run


There will be items that you want to get rid of, that they don’t want to part with. Just remember that everyone has a different perspective and what you think of an item may be different than what they think of it. This is okay! Some things you just have to be okay with keeping.


#6 Decluttering Sentimental Items


Decluttering is so hard because we tend to get attached to material objects. Even if we don’t use them and they sit in a box in the basement. Just remember that the memories you already have are better than any object you can keep.


If you must keep things. Try to keep it to one memory box per person.


Quick Tips For Dealing With Sentimental Items


  • Remember items are meant to be enjoyed not kept in storage
  • Give away sentimental items to another family member that will use it and not just store it
  • Honor the items by bringing them out of storage and using them in your home
  • Be creative and repurpose items that mean something to you
  • Memories are meant to be shared not hidden
  • If your only option is to keep it in storage then consider getting rid of it
Related: Decluttering Sentimental Items – How To Let Go

Absolute Minimalism Doesn’t Need To Be The Goal


Remember that you don’t need to be the epitome of a minimalist. You are getting rid of the unimportant things, to make room and time for what really matters.


You should now be able to overcome any decluttering obstacle that stands in your way. Remember that it’s a process. The obstacle may be tough for you but the hard work will pay off! You will be enjoying the newfound space in your home in no time.


Need More Help with Decluttering?


I have two resources for you. You can take my free 3-day course, Declutter Your Bedroom in 3 days! Or you can read my ebook, Declutter Your Whole House in Your Own Time.


Decluttering is hard. Stop feeling overwhelmed and let me help you. Sign up for my 3 day challenge. Declutter your bedroom in 3 days!

Read More:
A Clutter-Free Kitchen
Declutter Your Home – A List of 101 Things You Can Get Rid Of
Clothing Declutter – Always Know What to Wear


  1. Marilyn

    September 30, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Number 3,4 and 5 are all factors that keep me from decluttering! Taking small steps is working for me, I just need to keep at it. I also like that you mentioned that absolute minimalism does not need to be the goal. Thanks for a great article.

    1. KatiesKottage

      November 8, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      Of course! I’m glad that I could help. Thank you for leaving a kind comment.

  2. Annie

    June 2, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Hi Katie, an excellent article you are one of the few which says put bags into storage if you are unsure, I did this with the idea I could retrieve anything I needed in 3 months, and no I didn’t miss a thing so the bags were donated without heavy heart. They raised quite a lot of money for a local hospice, which again gave me a happy heart.

    1. KatiesKottage

      June 3, 2020 at 11:24 am

      This is great Annie. I’m glad this strategy worked out for you and that you were able to donate to a good cause.

  3. Linda

    March 10, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    It is never good to push a pack rat or hoarder. They get defensive. I put a box in the breakfast nook and announced that it is a donation box. I purged my closet and kitchen (of only my items). That box mysteriously filled up with other items.

    1. KatiesKottage

      March 11, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks Linda, I definitely agree. And the donation box is a great idea! The more I declutter the more my husband has gotten rid of himself. Great tip. 🙂

  4. Lani

    February 18, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Great article, thank you

    1. KatiesKottage

      February 18, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you Lani! I really appreciate such a positive comment. 🙂

  5. Wcooper

    February 15, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    My mother in law has been like this all her life, as was her mother and grandmother….its as if she inherited it. She is a borderline hoarder, my husband and I could go over and declutter her home…put things away, toss things out etc….in one week or less you would never know I was there. Her daughter’s are all much like her … I stopped fighting the tide….she is who she is…i don’t see it ever changing.

    1. KatiesKottage

      February 16, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Some people see no problem with their clutter and really that is just fine. It’s their life. However, I do think that they are missing out on a lot and if they ever did become clutter free it feel so freeing for them. However, I wouldn’t worry about if it’s something you don’t see them ever changing. Maybe they would benefit from watching The Magic Of Tidying Up on Netflix. Just focus on yourself and be an example. They are lucky to have someone in their life who cares and helps as much as you do. 🙂

  6. Ruth Marie

    February 12, 2019 at 9:50 am

    The ads on this blog are so distracting I stopped reading after just a few paragraphs!

    1. KatiesKottage

      February 12, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      So sorry that you feel this way. I’ve actually been meaning to update this post for some time so thank you for the reminder. I hope you will take in to account that a lot of bloggers need those ads to bring in income for their families. Many of us are moms just trying to stay home with our kids and help bring home a little extra money. But you also have the right to find another blog and that read that as well. Thanks.

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