The 1 Reason Your Decluttering Isn't Working The Way It's Supposed To

It's OK, we're guilty too.
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I used to be a cleaner, and if there’s one thing I want to impress upon you now, it’s this; most of your mess comes from clutter.

It’s by far the most destructive anti-cleaning force I faced at work; and no, no amount of organising, labelling, and sorting will help you to outrun an overstuffed home.

I do not judge you; I am you. I had to move out of my flat in September, resulting in black bagful after black bagful of junk that I’d somehow accumulated in my one room.

Clutter breeds clutter, too; you get more stuff, so you can’t see what you already have, so you get more stuff.

All too often, I see friends, family, and, uh, myself reach a tipping point. “I’m gutting the house this week,” I’ve heard. People promise to banish junk from their homes over a single weekend; never have I seen this successfully work.

So, you can imagine how pleased I was to hear about “micro-decluttering”: a manageable, realistic approach to releasing some of the *stuff* that I’ve incorporated successfully into my own life.

What’s involved?

You’re encouraged to spend a few minutes of your day decluttering something specific, like a dresser or a wardrobe ― and then leaving it at that. Until your next mini-declutter, that is.

Maybe you can bin your unwanted makeup after getting ready in the morning, for instance. Or perhaps you can start chucking out two unused drawer items every time you open it.

“I recommend doing it every time you open a drawer, cabinet, or closet. It starts with training yourself to look for items to declutter, but once you’ve trained yourself, it becomes second nature,” organisation expert Susan Santarro told Homes & Gardens.

“For example, when you bypass that old pair of socks you don’t like for a different pair, remove the one you don’t like at the same time you pull out the pair you want. When you open the fridge to grab the ketchup bottle, look at the date on the bottle next to it. It takes you less than a second more time,” the Organized31 expert reccomends.

The point is, you declutter little and often.


The benefits are clear ― it’s why I swear by it.

First of all, you don’t psych yourself out. If your home has a lot of clutter, promising to tackle it all in two days can be intimidating.

Secondly, you don’t jam your bins (or corridors, or car boot) full of rubbish or donation sacks. When I left my last flat, there were barely enough communal skips to house the bags ― that in and of itself is stressful.

Thirdly, counterintuitively, decluttering is messy. You often have to pull whole sections of your wardrobe out to clean it; if you’ve overcommited, you could be left with a worse mess (and even graver mindset) than before you started. Perhaps you might be tempted to just shove everything back into your wardrobe, for instance, thus hiding more of your stuff and causing clutter to build up further.

Ultimately, I’ve found the trick just makes the process a lot more *possible* ― I’ve cleared all the junk from my kitchen in a couple of weeks without really noticing.

I mean, at this point, it’s got to be worth a try, right?

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