Why Is It So Hard To Declutter? 9 Reasons We Stand In Our Own Way

Why is it so hard to declutter? I’m sharing some common reasons why decluttering is so hard for people to accomplish. Ready to get to work? Use my decluttering tips and today’s information to help you stop standing in your own way so you can get the job done.

Text why is it so hard to declutter on white background over image of sunny room with wooden shelf full of decorative pieces.

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It’s common to feel attached to your stuff. Some people feel more attached to their things than other people do, which can make it hard to get rid of stuff.

However, I firmly believe that knowing some of the reasons that make it hard to declutter can help take the power out of them. Once they no longer have power over you, you’ll be able to get to work and start removing unwanted clutter from your home and your life.

Why Is It So Hard To Declutter? 9 Ways We Stand In Our Own Way

Understanding the hindrances you have in your life around getting rid of clutter will make it so much easier to get started! To be fair, you may not even realize that you are dealing with these issues. In fact, many of us don’t, so it really isn’t your fault.

But, by learning about these common issues that keep people from being able to declutter, you might just learn how to work around (or through!) your personal stumbling blocks.

Negative Mindset

What I’m thinking of here is some of those negative things that we sometimes tell ourselves. Things like ‘you won’t do it right’ or ‘that job’s too big to do.’ Do these sound at all familiar?

If you find yourself playing old tapes of negative comments in your head, you’re probably sitting in a negative mindset that’s keeping you from moving forward. You are NOT a victim of clutter, and you CAN make a positive change in your life!

I have found that journaling is really helpful for taking negative thoughts and turning them into positive or supportive statements. For example, ‘that job’s too big to do’ could become ‘that job’s too big to do by myself, but if I get some help, it won’t seem so big and we might even get done faster.’

Social Pressure 

There’s this idea in our society that we need to have more, more, more. In fact, it’s almost a push toward having as much stuff as possible. Well, we are not The Onceler from Dr. Seuss’ book The Lorax, and we don’t need to keep expanding our stuff. 

Even though we live in a materialistic society, I believe that more and more people are beginning to realize just how trapped we can become by our possessions. From Marie Kondo to tiny houses, it might be helpful to realize that the minimalist trend is HOT right now!

Don’t worry about what other people say you need to do. If you’re feeling suffocated or stressed by your clutter, listen to THAT and make some changes so that you actually feel relaxed and stress-free in your own home.

Feeling Overwhelmed 

Overthinking is a guaranteed way to be overwhelmed and not get anything done. And, if you try to take on decluttering when you’re overthinking, you will likely commit one (or more) of these decluttering mistakes.

Feeling overwhelmed about decluttering is, at its heart, caused by poor decision-making skills. If you’re finding yourself facing analysis paralysis, enlist some help from someone you trust but who isn’t emotionally tied to your stuff. 

By handing off some of the decisions to someone you trust, you can relax and be a part of the process rather than staying frozen in ‘overthinking land.’ It’s all about making progress in ways that work for you!

Guilt About Getting Rid Of ‘Good Stuff’ 

Wooden instruments and furniture in sunny room.

Sure there will probably be items that you work to get rid of that still have lots of life left in them. But if you aren’t using them, what’s the point in holding onto them if someone else could benefit from them? 

Another way that some people tend to feel guilty centers around gifts and inherited items. They feel guilty that they may seem ungrateful for not wanting those items.

Guilt is a powerful emotion that kills all motivation for decluttering, but it’s also a common decluttering challenge.

Combat this by reminding yourself that the whole point of a gift is to show love from one person to another. Accepting the gift and expressing gratitude for it means the gift has served its purpose! After that, the gift is yours to do with what you want, and there’s no point in holding on to it if it isn’t adding value to your life.

Yet another way that guilt can rear its ugly head is around the money that people will spend on items. Even if the item was an expensive one, there’s no point in holding onto things that you don’t love or use. The money has already been spent, so holding onto it won’t bring the money back!

Fear Of Letting Go Of Something You May Need Later 

This is a big one for lots of people, and I’ve been guilty of it too. Why get rid of something you might need to use later (when you’ve already spent money on it!)? What about that stereo that you might want to hand down to your kids one day?

This is especially understandable when money is tight. You need to ask yourself how realistic that scenario is. Because… really, are you truly going to hand down your outdated stereo to your son?

Why is it so hard to declutter? If you’re worried you may later regret getting rid of something, you aren’t alone. In fact, with just a little effort, you could probably come up with a reason to keep just about anything.

I can say from personal experience that keeping things out of fear that you’ll later regret your decision is a little silly. In fact, I can’t think of anything I’ve decluttered (and that’s hundreds of items over the past few years!) that I’ve regretted getting rid of. 

The flipside of that argument is that living with all the clutter causes more stress than potentially getting rid of something you might later regret.

Fear Of Not Doing The Job Right Or Not Finishing

Why is it so hard to declutter when you’re worried you can’t finish or do the job right? If you’re feeling this way you probably find yourself asking ‘why even bother?’ Or even worse, you can’t even envision success once the job is complete because it doesn’t seem like a possibility.

Keep in mind that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to decluttering. There is only progress. And don’t worry about finishing. I think of decluttering as a journey, not a destination because someone could argue that there’s always more that can be decluttered.

You’ll know you’re done when you feel more comfortable and relaxed in your newly simplified home! 😉

Don’t Have Time To Get The Job Done

I get it: life is busy and time is short. If you can’t get it all done at once, why even bother starting? Well, didn’t I just mention that decluttering is a journey? It’s a process, and there are NO rules that you need to get it all done within a certain period of time.

Plus, as you declutter more, ironically, you end up with more time!

If you find that you just aren’t able to dedicate a huge chunk of time to the task, you can still make great progress by doing it in small doses. Set a timer for 10 minutes and declutter as much as you can in that time. OR pick 10 items each day to declutter.

Doing just a little bit each day will REALLY add up, and you’ll make huge progress before you even know it.

Lack Of Motivation

At the end of a busy day, it’s easy to tell yourself that you just don’t have the energy to tackle the task of decluttering. I get it — it can feel like just another item on the to-do list. An overwhelming and exhausting item.

Try sticking to the 10 minutes/10 items a day strategy and remind yourself that having less stuff will leave you with more time and energy. Reading some motivating decluttering quotes can also help provide just the inspiration you need to help you get started! 


Sunny room with wooden shelf full of decorative pieces that are hard to declutter.

Do you find yourself feeling like nobody will help? Or that everyone just messes it all up and keeps even MORE stuff as you finally start to get things cleaned out?

I totally hear you! It feels like a waste of time — I often feel that way about cleaning the house when others come right behind me and mess it up. 😁 

And when you feel frustrated or that your effort is pointless, you’re not likely to put in the effort, right?

Try enlisting help from your family members. Many hands make light work and can help make a huge dent in the job in less time. This can work even if your spouse is reluctant to help

This tactic also helps for giving your family members some skin in the game so they won’t want to mess up all the hard work.

Sentimental Items

Decluttering sentimental items is hard because you’re emotionally tied to them. But there are ways to declutter even the most sentimental items and not miss them. 

Take an honest look at your sentimental items. Do they really mean something to you or do you simply feel guilty for getting rid of them?

Remind yourself that getting rid of sentimental items doesn’t mean that you are getting rid of the memories or the meaning behind them. Feel free to take a picture of some of the items so you can look back at them fondly when you feel like taking a stroll down memory lane.

Don’t Know What To Do With The Stuff You Get Rid Of

Now knowing how to get rid of stuff is the kiss of death for decluttering. Without a plan, you’ll probably leave it sitting somewhere in your house and it’ll just stay there, adding to your clutter.

Make a plan ahead of time about how you’ll get rid of your stuff. How, where, and when will you donate it

If you plan to sell it, set a deadline — then if you miss that deadline, you donate it with no debate or resistance.

Resources To Help Conquer Clutter

I hope it was helpful to take a look at some of the most common reasons that cause people to drag their heels on decluttering. I’ve found that once you understand the reasons that hold you back, it often becomes much easier to get rid of the clutter in your house. 

What about you… why is it so hard to declutter your home?

Always remember… you’ve got this!

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3 thoughts on “Why Is It So Hard To Declutter? 9 Reasons We Stand In Our Own Way”

  1. I like to book a charity porch pickup whenever they are offered, even if I have nothing ready. Many times I’m running around the night before throwing everything I can find into bags so I have a decent amount of stuff for them to come get, I don’t want to let them down. Often it is this pressure that helps me make quick decisions and get rid of stuff I really don’t need.

  2. I have a Salvation Army in a near by town. That is where all my goods go. I so throw out any thing that is not worth keeping, broken or things missing parts, ripped things and things of that nature. I take a bit of a load of things every month. I know it doesnt seem like much but out of my house and to maybe a place that it could be used. Win-win! I have even taken new things.

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