The 3 Decluttering Mistakes Everyone Makes

Written by Lili Pettit

Photo by twenty20

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Nowadays, most people are aware of the decluttering and tidying trend, thanks to Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We know that we should hold on to only the things that "spark joy"—but what does that really mean? Where do we begin, and how do we create lasting changes?

Speaking as a professional organizer and clutter healer, these are the decluttering mistakes that I see people make most often. If you're ready to reevaluate your space, may they help steer you in the right direction.

1. They don't have a clear enough vision.

Think about what you really want your home to provide and how you want it to feel. Many people I work with show me a photo of a minimalist-style closet with clean lines, a couple of accessories, and a lot of white space and say, "I want my house to feel like this." Yet I look around their homes and see clothes on the floor, multiple phone chargers strewn about, and piles of unopened mail on the kitchen countertop. How do we go from living in chaos to creating a space where we feel clear, comforted, and calm?

Visualize yourself in the space as if everything you desire is already there.

Until you create a clear vision of how you want every area of your house to feel, you're never going to get it quite right. If you are a creative person who desires a space to write, paint, or woodwork, think about what you really need. If you are an entrepreneur who needs an office free of interruption and a big bulletin board to map out all of your ideas, think about how you can create that. You can't have your office in the kitchen if you need peace and quiet. You can't do woodworking without the appropriate space and tools.

Visualize yourself in the space as if everything you desire is already there and everything standing in the way has been removed. The more clarity you have around your vision, the more likely you will be able to bring in only what you need and let go of what isn't serving you, both mentally and physically.

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2. They make hasty purchases.

Never ever, ever, ever bring more stuff into your home until you completely remove all the items that you no longer need or want. Don't purchase organizing products before you edit your space of anything broken, chipped, get the picture.

You may think you are prepping for the big organize by purchasing supplies ahead of time, but I promise you, this is not true. I know it's tempting, especially when a trip to the Container Store can be so much fun, but when you enter big-box stores without a clear vision it's so easy to get taken down by clever marketing. Next thing you know, you're back home with three bags of random things you didn't plan on purchasing in the first place.

If you edit your home first, you will be able to accurately assess what kind of equipment you may need. I say may need because I often find myself repurposing vessels and not needing to spend a single dollar on organizing supplies.

3. They get bogged down with negative thoughts.

Try to see the organizing process through rose-colored glasses. Yes, you heard me right. Organizing isn't a chore; it's a choice. Find some gratitude, people! If you have a roof over your head and belongings to sort through, you are much luckier than a lot of people. You can choose to be a prisoner in your own home, ruled by your belongings, or you can empower yourself to declutter and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.

Last, when it all feels like it's just too much, like the task is too big, remember to keep it simple. Be wise, be thoughtful, choose less when you can. Accept imperfection. Your soul, your home, and your mind will thank you.

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