4 Reasons Why Your Decluttering Isn’t Working

4 reasons why your decluttering isn't working

Thump! Thump! Thump!

From my kitchen I could hear the thumping, but I had no clue where it was coming from or what was causing it.  I walked into the living room searching for the source when a dark form appeared in my peripheral vision.  I turned just in time to see a tiny bird hitting my window.


I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! This bird kept slamming into my living room window, over and over again.  For several minutes I watched him hit the same spot, determined to make his way through it.

As I observed his odd behavior,  I knew there could only be two possible outcomes to this situation – the bird would either figure out that his efforts were in vain and move on, or he would die trying.  It seemed to take forever, but the bird finally figured out that he wasn’t going to get through my window and changed his flight path.

Wise choice.

Like that bird hitting the window over and over again, our organizing efforts can look the same.  We keep trying and trying but don’t seem to make any progress.  When that happens we have two choices – either try a new path or “die” to the dream of orderly living and stay stuck in our clutter.

This can happen in various stages of the organizing process, but I where I see people struggling the most with this is in their decluttering efforts.

Struggling with decluttering? Grab my FREE step-by-step guide to declutter any space in your home. Just click here for your copy of the 10 Step Declutter Guide.

4 Reasons Why Your Decluttering Isn’t Working

Decluttering isn’t easy.  It takes time, it demands that decisions be made, and it requires people to let go of things they may be very attached to.  Some people are able to overcome these barriers; others aren’t.

If you are one of those people who keeps hitting the window when it comes to decluttering, there may be a few reasons why:

  1.  You have a false belief that you can organize clutter – Many people don’t feel the need to declutter. Instead they believe all they have to do is organize their stuff, and once it’s organized their problems are solved.  The truth is you can’t organize clutter! You have to remove the unnecessary from the necessary so you can have space and room to breathe.  Without purging your stuff you will never truly have an orderly life.
  2. F.E.A.R. – Many people refuse to let go of an item because they might need it one day or they’re afraid they’ll hurt someone’s feelings if they get rid of it.  Sadly, those are excuses hidden behind fear. Fear is nothing more than us Forming Excuses and Accepting them as Reality.  Once we allow our excuses to become actual thoughts in our mind, whether they’re right or not, we accept them as truth and act accordingly.  If we want to get out from underneath the clutter we have to stop making excuses and instead, make decisions.
  3. You aren’t asking the right questions – In order to know whether or not to let something go, people will generally ask themselves questions about a particular item.  Most often they ask, “Do I like it?” If they do, they end up keeping it; if they don’t then they might let it go.  But, “Do I like it?” is an emotional question, not a practical one such as, “When was the last time I used it?”.  To clear out the clutter, you have to ask the right questions, the hard questions, and the practical questions to truly determine if an object needs to stay or not.  Once you ask yourself the right questions, it is easier to make a decision, and if necessary, let go.
  4. You’re trying to do it alone – When you declutter by yourself there is no accountability, no one to question your decisions (or lack of them).  If you want to see real results that lead to a change in your clutter, you have to be willing to have someone work alongside you.  Whether it’s a family member, a trusted friend, or a professional, having someone with you can keep you on the straight and narrow and motivate you to keep moving ahead.  As the saying goes, two is better than one!

There’s a popular quotes that states, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”  If you want to get out from underneath the clutter and chaos that has overtaken your home and life, you’ve got to make some changes.  Stop hitting the same spot on the window and chose a different path!

Maybe you need to seek out help, ask the hard questions, overcome your excuses and fears, or just think differently about your clutter.  When you do, you might find that your organizing efforts will take flight and you’ll find yourself on the orderly path you were always meant to be on.

Struggling with decluttering? Grab my FREE step-by-step guide to declutter any space in your home. Just click here for your copy of the 10 Step Declutter Guide.

ByGeorge-180-Challenge logoNeed help with your decluttering? Then I encourage you to join me for the 180 Challenge – a 10 month decluttering challenge where we’ll work together to clear out the clutter and the chaos so you can restore order and enjoy your home.  To learn more about the 180 Challenge and how you can sign up, click here.



23 responses on “4 Reasons Why Your Decluttering Isn’t Working

  1. Sabrina Quairoli

    I love this, especially FEAR! That’s great. Getting rid of clutter is the main point. I feel no satisfaction from organizing the clutter of a space. I rather reduce then organize. =) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Liana George Post author

    Thanks Sabrina! Yes, FEAR is a HUGE factor and can really keep people stuck in their clutter and chaos. I’m all about simplifying, reducing, and decluttering – it makes such a difference and means less I have to keep up with!

  3. Daria Harvey

    I love the FEAR acronym! And I agree-If we only got rid of things we didn’t like we’d be drowning in our stuff! I also think it’s nice you admit even professional organizers need to declutter. It’s an ongoing process.

  4. Liana George Post author

    Thanks Daria! People always assume that my house is perfectly organized so I wanted to share that professional organizers are human too!

  5. Ellen Delap

    Love this post! Trying to declutter alone is much more difficult than with a team. Your team can be family, church family, friend or a professional. Make decluttering much easier when you work with someone else!

  6. Seana Turner

    Love the F.E.A.R. acronym! I agree that many people feel they just need to buy more bins to put their stuff in. Someone in my family is this way… it is hard to push to declutter instead of simply containerize!

  7. Liana George Post author

    Absolutely Ellen! It can be difficult to ask for the help, or even embarrassing for other’s to see your clutter, but it can have a huge impact on the decluttering process! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

  8. Liana George Post author

    Thanks Seana. Yes, many people think that more containers and storage is the answer, but the truth is we have to let go of stuff!

  9. Jamie Steele

    You can’t organize clutter!!! I love this. Purging is an emotional process, but a necessary one in organizing. If you don’t have space for your items it is clutter and something has to give. Your acronym of FEAR is a great place to start to tame the clutter. Thanks for a great article.

  10. Liana George Post author

    Thanks Jamie! Purging is emotional, but oh so necessary, and without it you really won’t be organized. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  11. Janet Barclay

    I love your analogy between the bird trying to fly through the window and people trying the same unsuccessful methods over and over. Makes me wonder where I might be doing the same thing!

  12. Erica Duran

    Great post Liana! My favorite part is where you ask if they are asking the right questions! Asking better questions will support you in so many other areas in your life!

  13. Liana George Post author

    Erica, you are so right! Too often we don’t think about how important those questions can be! Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂

  14. Liana George Post author

    Janet that analogy can be used for so many areas of our lives! When the bird incident happened I wondered why it happened when it did and if there was a lesson for me in it. I know I continue hitting the same windows and the same unsuccessful methods over and over! Trying to be better about that 🙂

  15. Sarah Soboleski

    I’m going to be sharing that FEAR acronym! And I love your last point reminding you not to do it alone. I hear from folks all the time, “I get so much more done when you’re here.” It’s true that having an accountability buddy and a support system gets you moving!

  16. Liana George Post author

    Thanks Hilda! Fear and excuses are major reasons why we hold onto things we shouldn’t be and hopefully if we change our perspective and mindset we can make progress with our decluttering efforts!

  17. Liana George Post author

    I hear that a lot too Sarah! Just having someone to walk alongside you can make all the difference 🙂

  18. Autumn Leopold

    Love this post Liana! Perfect analogy and acronym FEAR!! Have no FEAR! You have really simplified the entire mindset you have to have in order to de-clutter and stay de-cluttered!

  19. Liana George Post author

    Thank you Autumn! I always appreciate your support and encouragement 🙂 FEAR is a major factor in people’s decluttering efforts and hopefully if they can realize it and change directions they will have the organized lives they long for.

  20. Andi Willis

    Right on point! I love your FEAR acronym. It is so true that our thoughts eventually shape our reality. I also how you ask when was the last time I used it, instead of do I love it. Taking the emotion out of it may make the purging process easier for some people. I’m keeping that in my back pocket. Thanks, Liana!

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