Many of us get into decluttering and organizing thinking that if we can work to gain back control of our spaces, that we will be able to maintain them with small efforts in the future. Now for the most part, that may be true if we continue to routinely declutter, sort, clean and organize those areas repeatedly.
However these good intentions are, there are situations that come up that cause our work in these spaces to backslide. Why does this happen? Well, to put it in simplistic terms, life happens – and can interfere with all of our previous work. This can happen to all of us, so if you find yourself in this situation, know that you are not alone.
A while ago, I found myself in this situation. I looked around and saw one room after another gathering clutter and looking fuller than I had them for a number of years. My first instinct was to be frustrated with myself for not being able to maintain my home’s spaces the way that I had originally created and envisioned.
I thought about all of the work that I had previously done; years of sifting through item after item, making decision after decision, boxing items up and taking them to donate at the consignment stores. All of that work, why had my decluttering and organizing efforts become undone to a certain extent?
This was something that I knew that I had to answer for myself before I proceeded any further, and I suggest that this may be helpful for you to consider before starting to declutter again, as well.
Reason 1 – Special Occasions
In considering and reflecting on what circumstances can lead to an undoing of our decluttering and organizing work, the first reason that came to my mind was special occasions. Anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, graduations and other special occasions along this line generate a lot of excessive clutter.
We have family members and friends that have the best of intentions and want us to know that they remember us during these special times. Usually, we can get a number of items at once and can place them in areas without finding a home for them – or can add them to our spaces without taking anything out for the item(s) that we are adding; the “One In, One Out” rule.
After just a few of these occasions, we can look in our spaces and see our previous work being quickly undone! It adds up rather quickly – gifts that are being used and unused, cards and the like can overtake a space. When I thought of the occasions in my life that had added too much to certain rooms in my home, I quickly realized that this was something that I have had trouble keeping in check.
I need to keep in mind that when these occasions occur, and I add items to various areas of my home, I need to use the “One In, One Out” rule. In applying this rule to my gifts similar items, things shouldn’t get out of hand again. Have you found that these type of items have added to the clutter in your spaces too?
Reason 2 – Collections
The second factor that I found adds to cluttering up our homes’ spaces is our collections that we have. Collections can be great, but if not kept in check, these items can quickly get cause our rooms’ spaces where they are kept to become out of control.
Collections such as figurines, sports and other types of memorabilia, fashion items such as shoes, clothes, purses and bags, jewelry and other accessories, tangible books, printed and/or CD photos, sentimental items and scrapbooks, and technology items are all types of examples that fall under this category.
Personally, when I’ve looked throughout my home, I’ve definitely found that items from this category have added to the excessive clutter in my home. What has added the most is purses and bags, printed and CD photos, and other similar items from this category. I have filled up areas of my home where I’ve chosen to keep them in. It’s probably one of the categories that has added the most to my home’s clutter issue. (I love purses and bags!)
Now, though, whenever I look at adding new purses and bags, I try to think about which one(s) that I’ll need to declutter so that I can add the new one that I’m looking at. I have been finding that this has been rather effective to keeping my purse and handbag collections in check.
Have you found that you have trouble with your collections getting too much as well? Which types of collections do you have that grow rapidly in your home?
Reason 3 – Interest
The next category of items that I have found that adds clutter and causes our homes’ to become unorganized is abandoned projects. Our hobbies that we have can usually be a good thing to take part of. However, when we lose interest in them, whether it is partially or completely, it can always add to our overall feeling of stress, clutter and disorganization of our homes.
If this is the case, the best option that I have found for myself is to really decide whether it is a hobby that I want to take a break from and pick up doing in the future, or to give up doing completely.
If I’ve lost the desire in the hobby totally, I gather up everything to do with the hobby and either give it to a friend or family member that I know will definitely us and enjoy it, or I donate the items to a thrift or consignment store. (I use the term thrift and consignment stores interchangeably.)
I just feel personally, that if I am not using an item, I should pass it on to someone that could use or appreciate it. There are so many people that do not have and cannot afford necessary and “luxury” (those extras that aren’t necessary, but are nice to have) items, that I feel that it’s important to pass them on rather than letting them sit unused.
Now don’t get me wrong, this took me a while to get to this level of decluttering and thinking. So if you are worried about decluttering an item or a particular hobby, then you should wait a bit until you are ready to do so. Decluttering and organizing doesn’t fit a “one size fits all” type of thinking.
However, I have found that if I’m unsure about decluttering something, I will try to put the item where I will regularly come across it, so that it is kept in my mind. I also add a note to my calendar for a future time so that I can consider making my final decision on the item(s).
I have found also that making a decision within a 3-month period or less really works for me. I would suggest that you decide the specific length of time that works best for your final decision, and then place that reminder on your calendar to do so.
Basically, what I am trying to say is to be patient with yourselves. If you want to declutter and pass on as much as you can to others, but have anxiety when you are trying to get rid of more, just keep in mind that you can get to that point the more you practice decluttering.
The other thing to keep in mind with this category is that we can even get tired of our decluttering, cleaning and/or organizing projects. I’ve definitely had this happen. When I find this happening, I go through the same process that I mentioned previously.
Now usually, I won’t wait 3 months, but usually a couple weeks or so until I revisit that project. That’s my preference, but you should always do what feels right to you in decluttering and the length of time that you take on making decisions on whether or not to keep certain items – and do not feel badly if you need to take some time deciding these certain items.
For me, I have found that in giving myself this allotted break to decide on these specific items, gives me a fresh pair of eyes and helps me to continue on and finish the project that has previously felt frustrating or challenging to me.
Reason 4 – Circumstances
A further reason that I have found that causes our decluttering and organizing projects to backslide is due to our lives’ circumstances. Just living our lives, we may come across occasions that we move to a new home and / or area, we may get married or go through a divorce, we may develop a short-term or long-term illness, we may deal with deaths of others, etc.
These are just a few of the circumstances that can cause us to need to stop our projects, and may even cause our previous work to become undone, if a longer bit of time goes by where we do not or cannot continue and finish these projects.
Not only may these circumstances happen to us directly, but they may happen to those that we are closest to; indirectly affecting us and causing us the same backsliding results.
I, personally, have dealt with many of these circumstances. I had worked for years on decluttering and organizing my home. I had gotten to a point where I had reached the point that I was at “Maintenance Mode” of my home and belongings. About once a month, I would go through my house quickly and did brief decluttering work. Then, about every three months, I would go through and do a more thorough decluttering of my home.
I had finally felt that I had reached a point where I felt that I had crossed some kind of decluttering and organizing finish line. I knew that I would always need to do this maintenance work, but I naively felt that the days of working long and hard to continuously work on finishing one decluttering and organizing project was behind me.
About a year or two later, after reaching this point, my circumstances changed. Suddenly, multiple health issues of family members, death, and eventually my own health changed. All of these circumstances happened in a very short time.
However, it seemed that it took quite a long period of time to recover from these circumstances to the point of getting back to activities that I used to do, such as my decluttering and organizing. Once I was finally able to get back to my normal activities, I realized that there were significant changes in my home. So, I restarted my work around my home.
Again, about a year or so later, my circumstances changed with a significant family member getting sick and unexpectedly passing away. During this year, I focused solely on him and did not even think about decluttering and organizing projects.
As we all know though, life continues and we purchase items, have gifts given to us, have holidays that occur, and need to continue celebrating them for our other family members. It’s a difficult thing to go through, as anyone that has dealt with these type of circumstantial issues can verify.
After this very special person to me passed, it took me quite some time to get to a point where I could return to my previous activities. So, decluttering and organizing took a “huge backseat” for quite a long while.
Eventually, I was able to start slowly addressing the decluttering needs of my home and life again. Unfortunately, the decluttering process felt overwhelming to me; feeling like I was starting from scratch all over again.
That is why I started writing this blog. I learned that decluttering and organizing fluctuates in our lives and homes based on all of the reasons that I have mentioned in this article. However, life circumstances that we go through can really have one of the most significant impacts to our decluttering, cleaning and organizing projects the most.
Though I felt like I was starting all over, I knew what it was like to have a home that had been decluttered, organized, and felt the peace that comes from this. So now I have found myself having to go through many new objects from what is now about a little more than a decade of not being able to declutter and organize due to a number of significant changes in life circumstances (some not even mentioned).
When I find myself getting frustrated, I try to continue to picture what my home was like when it had previously been in decluttered and organized. I also try to think about how my home felt during that time. It was so peaceful. There weren’t any piles or areas that were constantly trying to grab my attention and causing me to feel distracted. It had been a beautiful time, one that I am committed to getting back to.
There are many reasons that our decluttering, cleaning, and organizing projects and can backslide. Many can cause us to temporarily take a break from our projects. There are also some reasons that cause us to take much longer breaks from our work. (Hopefully for all of us, these circumstances don’t happen very often, for multiple reasons.)
However, if we do find ourselves in this position, it’s good to know that after we’re in a better life circumstance, we can pick ourselves up and begin again. We need to remember that no matter whether it’s a smaller or long-term break from decluttering and organizing, we cannot be hard on ourselves for having to take these breaks.
Life happens and taking time to deal with what comes up is important.
On the positive side, any decluttering and organizing is progress. It’s important to remember that we will eventually get to the point where we will feel that the majority of decluttering and organizing is finished, and we can shift into maintenance mode for our home. In the meantime, let’s continue to keep working on our decluttering and organizing projects together!
Please keep us posted in the comments on how you are doing with your decluttering and organizing projects so that we can cheer you on! In addition, if you have any decluttering and organizing tips that you have found helpful and want to share with us, we would love to hear them!
So keep up with your decluttering and organizing projects, as you can, and be kind to yourself when challenging, life circumstances get in the way. There will come a time again when you can return to your decluttering and organizing projects. Just remember that we believe in you; YOU can do it!
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