Ways to Get Motivated to Declutter

Particularly when you don’t like to part with things

woman looking at a shirt box marked declutter parting with things

If you feel like you’re drowning in stuff, it’s time to declutter. Clutter is a big problem for many people. Piles of stuff you were gifted from Christmas a decade ago, a dress you wore when you were 15 pounds lighter, and books with information that’s now outdated slowly build up. Then one day you look at your home and closet, and realize they’re in chaos.


Clutter doesn’t just create a bad impression, it also impacts your mental health and well-being. Yet it can be hard to get motivated to declutter. Deep down, you might not want to part with the things you’ve collected, even if they no longer serve a purpose. Yet it’s important to do so for your mental health and peace of mind.

Did you know that clutter and disorganization are the top causes of stress in the workplace? But clutter isn’t just a workplace problem - it’s also a home problem. Clutter not only makes it hard to find things; it also creates stress. Cleaning up the clutter can be therapeutic for your health. Now let’s look at some ways to get motivated to do it, even if you don’t like to get rid of things you’ve accumulated.

Pretend That You’re Moving

A great way to get yourself in the mood to declutter is to pretend you’re moving and can only take a certain number of things with you. This will force you to decide what’s important and what you can part with. Without this scenario, you’re likely to hang on to most of what you have, rather than pare back on the stuff you don’t need. The moving scenario forces you to prioritize what to keep and what to let go.

Donate Instead of Tossing

The idea of throwing something away feels wasteful, but donating it to someone else feels like you’re contributing to a higher cause. Research the charity you plan to donate to beforehand and make sure they’re legit. Decluttering doesn’t mean you throw everything away. If you’re pressed for cash, you could also sell your gently used items on eBay or Craigslist. You’ll have the joy of knowing someone else will enjoy the items that currently clutter your home.

Declutter in Segments

If you set the goal of decluttering everything in one session, it can become overwhelming. Set a goal for each decluttering session. For example, one day go through the clothes in the downstairs closet, and during the next session, declutter your kitchen drawers. Set aside a day each week that you dedicate to decluttering some aspect of your house. By decluttering in segments, you won’t feel as overwhelmed, and you’ll start to see progress, and that will keep you motivated.

Have Criteria for What to Keep and What to Donate or Sell

The risk of decluttering is you’ll spend hours trying to decide whether to keep or donate something. A rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in a year or more, it’s time for it to go. Obviously, there are exceptions. For example, you don’t want to get rid of sentimental things that are impossible to replace. Whether something has sentimental value is another reason to hang onto it.


Ask yourself if you’ve used the item in the past year, whether it still has a purpose, and whether it has sentimental value. If none of those criteria apply, it’s not a keeper.

Don’t Hang on to Too Many Duplicates

If you have six black skirts in your closet or five measuring cups, you probably only use one or two, and the rest just takes up space. Once you’ve eliminated all those duplicates, commit to not buying so many redundant items in the future. Ask yourself why you bought five or six of the same items, and resolve to avoid it in the future.

The Bottom Line

Once you’ve tamed the clutter, understand that you’ll need to do it regularly. Just as weeds grow back when you pull them, clutter reforms if you let your guard down. Do a once-over of your home every week and see if clutter is starting to reform. Take action before you end up with a mish-mash of clutter that destroys the peace.

Decluttering doesn’t just mean removing physical objects from your life; it means getting rid of the things that have taken up space in your mind and thereby increasing the amount of mental energy you have available. You’re lifting your physical load by making your house lighter, but you’re also freeing your mind from stress because there’s less “stuff” to worry about.


You’re not just creating a pretty house here; it’s a clean space where you can breathe easier, feel happier and relax. Enjoy your uncluttered living space!


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