Honeycomb organization

Decluttering: Why we delay it & is it really so difficult?

Let’s be frank, making decisions is hard. And decluttering, if you think about it, is nothing more than decisions that we are postponing. Where to file that stack of letters on my desk that I may need one day (so I’ll just postpone it). I want to recycle those plastic bottles, but right now I can’t get to a recycling bin, so I’ll just put it to the side (postpone it). I need to sell that equipment on some online classified website, so I’ll squeeze it here in the corner of my office until I get to it one day (postpone it).

And yes, for all the above examples, I just looked around my office 🙂
In today’s post, I want to pursue this question:

Why do we delay decluttering, and is it really so difficult?

But first, why would I want to declutter?
Here’s the thing, you can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk. How many times have we wanted to take on some new and exciting projects, but we can’t because we’ve got this junk that we’re carrying around. Or maybe you stumble on some charming furniture, but you can’t get it because you’ve already got cluttered stuff idling at home.

Mind clutter

And clutter isn’t just in your home, closets, garage or office space. Clutter can also and frequently be found in our minds. Clutter can also be found in old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Like a sofa that already has three lazy people sitting on it with no room for anyone else, clutter steals space from the marvelous things that need a seat in your life.

Why do we clutter up in the first place?
We think of clutter as all one thing, but that’s not the case. There are different categories of clutter. Let’s take a look at a few of them that we can all relate to:

1. Clutter without a storage space

Cluttered desk declutter

These are things piling up on your desk, or closet or wherever, that isn’t precisely clutter. It’s just pens that don’t have a pen holder. Papers that don’t have a basket. Books that don’t have a shelf. You don’t have storage space design, so it ends up being clutter when it shouldn’t.

2. Trash that’s pretending to be clutter

Trash clutter declutter

Some stuff just seriously needs to be thrown away or given away. Clothes we will never wear, equipment we’ll never use, stuff that we know needs to go. Sometimes this piles up because we are postponing the decisions, other times we delude ourselves into thinking that ‘one day I might need this’ even though years have gone by.

Case study: True story, I have a car brush duster. It’s big and takes up space in my trunk. I think I bought it three years ago, and probably used it twice. Why do I keep carrying it around with me everywhere? Being honest, I keep thinking to myself that it’s valuable, and someone might use it, so let me just postpone throwing it away until one day I can find someone to give it to. The problem is, that’s simply an excuse I tell myself to justify postponing the inevitable.

3. Aspirational clutter

Aspiring clutter declutter

It’s clutter that you keep around because you hope, one day, you’ll do something amazing with it. Books that you tell yourself you’re going to use, one day, when you write that novel. Camera equipment that you keep around because you tell yourself, one day, I’m going to be a Youtube sensation, and I’m going to need this. And on and on.

And now for the juicy part … FIVE HACKS to instantly begin your decluttering journey

1. Consider vertical storage

Vertical storage toilet Vertical shelf declutterWhen we think of storing things, the default direction of storage is ‘horizontal’ storage. We picture where to put things on our ‘horizontal’ desk. We picture how to pile things into our storage closets HORIZONTALLY, front to back.

Consider that if you have a small space, you have all the way to the ceiling to utilize that space. So why not get a small and thin, but vertically tall, shelf that can fit nicely into a corner? On one of the shelf levels, do yourself a favor and put a nice flower to remind you how beautiful this storage can be.


2. Use beautiful storage baskets

Storage baskets decluttering

If you’re like me, I pile up papers on papers until I can deal with them later. The problem is, those papers look messy and cluttered. Until you’re able to deal with it, why not get a nice storage basket that’ll make things look tidy in the meanwhile?

Bonus: Get a charming wooden bowl to put your daily keys and wallet. Rather than just throwing all of it, cluttered on a table somewhere, put your daily pocket stuff into this designated charming wooden bowl when you get home.







3. Designate a drawer for clothes to be donated
As you’re looking for something to wear, you inevitably pass that shirt again and again that you know you’ll never wear and that you keep telling yourself that you’ll donate it … one day. Instead of it being front and center in your face, take it out and put it in a drawer (or some other designated space). Then when the time comes for donation, all the clothes you’re donating will be in one place. The benefit of this is you’ll clear up closet space for only the useful things.

4. Apply the six 6 task sorting (From Bring It!)
In time management, I teach that you deal with inbox stuff with six D’s: Delete, Deter, Drawer, Do it, Delegate it, or Date it.
Apply the same principle to clutter. When dealing with each piece of clutter, either Delete it (throw it away), Deter-it (stop getting paper bank statements, sign up for online only statements), Drawer (beautiful storage basket it), Do it (for things for sale, snap a photo and upload to free online classifieds immediately), Delegate it (call 1-800 Junk to come pick it up), or Date it (schedule a decluttering day).

5. Plan for the future
One of my life mottos is, “Excellence is never the result of accident.” You know you’re going to get into a cluttered mess, so why not prepare for it in advance, right? Make a list of the things that will undoubtedly need tidying up:

  • Papers that need to be stored
  • Equipment that you plan to use for later dates (find a way to keep it out of sight)
  • Pocket keys, cards, and coins (get a rustic wooden bowl)
  • Empty bottles (get a recycling bin)
  • Spare cords (Put them into a cup or small basket)
  • Clothes/shoes you’re no longer going to wear (designate a drawer for them)

It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy.
But it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.

Now your turn: Teach me one of YOUR most successful decluttering tips in the comments below. 

About the Author Muhammad Alshareef

Founder and President of DiscoverU, an Islam-based personal development institute. Muhammad Alshareef graduated Islamic Law from Madinah University and holds a Masters Degree from West Virginia University. Canadian, ethnically Egyptian, and a true citizen of the world. He writes about Islamic solutions to popular personal development questions.

Leave a Comment:

Noor says

Tq for sharing, its very useful for every…to get organize in all aspects are really worthy

Bahaar says

15 minutes a day to stop that overwhelming feeling – didn’t get cluttered overnight – won’t be fixed overnight – from fly

Sadaf says

JZK for the tips! I am in the process of doing a whole home declutter and have found it very liberating! One suggestion- don’t delay the decision process- once you have decided to get rid of an item (throw/recycle/donate) do so immediately. The longer it stays in your home, the higher the likelihood that it will not move out and will become clutter again!! Free of clutter= free mind! Alhamdolilah

Raz says

Amazing information. I have already bookmarked this page.
I have 2 boxes, one for paper clutter which I will most likely use within a month and second box for paper clutter which I might use after 1 month or just keeping it there until the box is full and then scan and recycle those papers..
Hope that helps.

Aisha says

Decluttering seems like an art I can never master. I’ll try ur solutions, hope they help me

k.Rahaman says

De clutter your mind completely before you sleep.

Sumaya says

JazakuAllah. Really. Good tips much appreciated Allah. Reward you

Keemo says

One of the best ways to avoid clutter is to minimize it from the beginning. It’s not so much learning how to deal with it (which is important) but learning how to prevent it. Prevention is the best way to live clutter free. Whenever you buy something, think to yourself, am I going to want this 2-3 years down the line? Am I going to use it? Where is going to be stored? A lot of stuff we buy, we only use once or twice and have no intention to keep using. That is a clear sign that you shouldn’t buy that thing. This has helped me tremendously to simplify my life. And if you can, buy high quality stuff that you know you want to keep (instead of ‘upgrading’ later on).

Rabiha says

Few year ago I used to be a culter mess. You thought me in the BringIt to do something that has changed the way a live. You said: if it takes less than 2 minutes do it right away, dont schedule it don’t delay it JUST DO IT!

Mohamed says

if a cluttered table means a cluttered mind, what about an empty table?

Maryam Bint Muslim says

masha Allah,this is really helpful….may Allah increase you in wisdom

tasneem says

Imagine if today is your last day… don`t be lazy… do whatever you can…

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