Decluttering our belongings can help us to focus on what’s important. However, it’s also a challenging process that is often made more complicated by the misleading “rules” we hear on social media. In this post, I explain seven common decluttering lies that can keep you stuck with clutter and once you’re aware of these, hopefully they will make the process easier!

1. Decluttering is about getting rid of as much as possible

At the beginning, I used to think this but the more minimalist content I consumed I realised that trying to get my belongings down to an arbitrary number was defeating the object of minimalism, for me anyway.

For me, minimalism is about being less wasteful and more mindful of my spending so that I can use my money on things that are important to me. This includes donating to charitable causes , saving money for emergencies, and spending money on experiences rather than “things”.

2. Decluttering applies only to physical possessions

Often we think of decluttering as being about physical items, which it is, but minimalism is also about “decluttering” other things which no longer serve you or detract from life in some way.

This might include friendships or relationships. Perhaps we need to rethink our personal boundaries to ensure the friendship or relationship is more “two-way”.

Or maybe we need to consider whether the friendship or relationship still aligns with who we are. The people we met years ago may not be the people we want in our lives in the present, and that’s okay. The same may go for them when it comes to us!

3. Decluttering is a one-and-done activity

I thought I’d do one major declutter and that would be it. However, I soon realised that decluttering is something to do regularly. This helps you keep on top of clutter coming into the home and any items you no longer need.

Whilst decluttering is best done regularly, it doesn’t mean you should build up the same level of clutter thinking “I’ll just do a big declutter again”. We need to avoid getting into a cycle of buying and decluttering, which ultimately means altering our spending habits.

4. Decluttering will solve your problems

The way that some people portray decluttering is as though it’ll solve all your problems; that life will get better once you declutter.

In fact, minimalism and decluttering take effort and hard work, especially in a world where the default position is to buy, consume, and mindlessly discard when we no longer need things.

For me, decluttering has been a helpful way to address anxiety relating to clutter in the home and it’s forced me to look at why my clutter has built up in the first place. This has led to me being much more careful with my purchases.

5. If you’re  unsure whether to declutter something, it’s time to get rid of it

This used to keep me stuck. If I was undecided about whether to declutter something, I thought that meant I should get rid of it. However, that filled me with anxiety because deep down I was unsure about decluttering it!

Now, when I’m unsure about decluttering an item I’ll make a note to come back to it in around a month’s time to see if my perspective has changed.

Decluttering isn’t a process that should be rushed. It isn’t about reducing our possessions to an arbitrary number. It’s about editing our belongings so we’re left with things we genuinely use and get joy from.

If we give ourselves time to mull over the “unsure” items and see whether we use them, now that we’re aware of them, I think that helps firm up our decision about whether or not we should declutter them.

6. Decluttering items should feel easy

You probably see people decluttering with little to no problems and feel it should be the same for you. You might watch videos of people who show the results of their decluttering but don’t show the process of how they got there.

Often, we form emotional attachments to our items so decluttering them isn’t always easy – and that is okay!

Along with emotional attachments to items, decluttering might bring up uncomfortable feelings regarding the amount of money we’ve spent on things that we’ve not made good use of, at least that’s my experience.

So, go into your decluttering with an expectation that there are going to be uncomfortable feelings that come up, that it’s a natural part of the process and it’s something we can learn a lot from.

7. Decluttering and minimalism are the same thing

Decluttering is one aspect of minimalism but it’s not the same thing.

For me, minimalism helps make room for the things that really matter, whether this be relationships, my career or physical possessions. The decluttering process encourages me to think about what I truly need, and the things that no longer serve me.

So, underlying decluttering is something deeper, and that is living life in ways that align with the things that are really important to us.

Let me know in the comments of any decluttering falsehoods that have hampered your decluttering process!