top of page

Why your home is still full of stuff when you think you've already decluttered

I look back to when I first started decluttering my own home and realise now that I was actually doing more organising and tidying than actual decluttering.  So what is the difference?  The definitions I use are:

Decluttering – To remove (and sell, donate, dispose of) unnecessary items from an overcrowded place – the purpose is to make what you keep more manageable and accessible.

Organising – To arrange items in a logical way – often involves grouping similar items together and using a principle of “a place for everything”.  Organising is much easier if you have decluttered first.

Tidying – To maintain items neatly and in order - usually involves putting things back in their proper place.  Tidying is much easier if your home is well organised.  Tidying usually needs to happen before cleaning as it is very difficult to clean a cluttered and untidy home.

When decluttering it is fairly easy to get rid of stuff that is broken, badly worn, piece missing etc. The real challenge is to declutter stuff that there isn't anything visibly wrong with - you just don't need. Getting over this hurdle is what really makes the difference on the level of clutter.

As a simple example, the first time I decluttered my sock drawer I threw out socks with holes, unmatched socks etc. But I still had a drawer stuffed full of socks. The second time I removed all socks that I tended not to wear as first choice as they were a bit tight, too rough etc. That left me with only about 9 pairs but all socks that I liked and wore regularly. I bought another 3 nice pairs and now I have a decluttered sock drawer and I can reach for a pair really easily as I'm not digging through a drawer filled with socks I don't like to find ones I do!

Another example is my loft.  It’s full of children’s toys – the youngest is now 17.  Over the years I’ve removed any that are broken or have missing pieces.  I’ve also managed to remove those toys that never worked very well (like a child’s sewing machine that didn’t actually sew!) or that my children didn’t play with.  But I’m still left with boxes and boxes of toys and it’s starting to create an issue because there are other things we would like to put in the loft but there is no space so those things are taking up precious storage space in other parts of our house. 

One of the things that was stopping me decluttering more was thinking that my grandchildren might play with them.  Now I have 2 grandchildren and I’ve realised that my eldest daughter doesn’t want to take any of them because her house is already full and when my grandchildren are here they play with a very small selection.  So I’ve started on the much harder process of decluttering what’s left.  I’m using the container concept from Dana White which essentially is that the amount of stuff you have is limited by the container that you use to store them.  My loft is a container, as are the boxes within the loft.

The toys currently take up half of the loft space so my target is to reduce this by half.  We have some bulky wooden toys that I want to keep such as a wooden train set, dolls house, garage and fort.  So I estimated that I would then have space for about 3 containers.  I could put more if they were stacked but then they wouldn’t be easily accessible so I’m less likely to get things out when the grandchildren are here.  I have labelled 3 containers for toys aged 0–2, 3-5 and 5 and over and I’m going to fill those with the toys I think my grandchildren are likely to play with.  The rest of the toys will be donated.   I’ll let you know how I get on in a future blog.

You can apply the above examples to any space in your house.  Of course, start with decluttering the easier stuff but don’t stop there if you really want to make a difference to your home. Remember, as the Flylady says “you can’t organise clutter”.

20 views0 comments


bottom of page