Barriers to Clearing the Clutter? There are Solutions!


Making Decisions – How are you at making decisions?  Difficulty or avoidance about making decisions can be a real barrier to clearing the clutter.  What do you think of this expression?   “Clutter is just Deferred Decision Making”. It really can be!

For example, do you hear yourself saying “I will do it tomorrow or another day, someday in the future” It can be so much easier to not make a decision. I can be guilty of this myself.  Not making a decision is really making a decision too.

Perfectionism  –  If I cannot do it perfectly, then there is no point in doing it at all, so I will do nothing.  Thinking that things have to be perfect can be a huge block to getting things done.

Its Too Overwhelming – Perhaps the job is so big that you can’t even imagine where to begin.  Its just so massive that you think “what is the point as I will never be able to get this done, this is impossible, etc.”  So you close the door, try to ignore it, it becomes invisible, well you know the drill.

Misjudging the time it will take – There can be the thought that this could all be cleaned up in a day which of course is unrealistic.  I can relate to this as I have been planning to get my pond filled in and putting a patio in its place.  It’s really not happening as fast as I would like.  At this point I am exercising some patience and trusting that it is all going to happen in divine timing.  Scheduling in some time on your calendar and/or making a plan is helpful.

Not Having Systems – Do you have a system for incoming mail, flyers, paying bills on time,  donations going out as stuff comes in, cleaning out the fridge before bringing in new groceries, laundry getting washed and dried in a timely fashion?  Having systems in place and following through with these on an ongoing basis will help you to keep up.   Clearing Clutter is not a one time event, it is an ongoing process.

Not Knowing What I Want/Not Taking Control of My Life – It can be very challenging to know what you want for yourself and your life.  Perhaps you are a people pleaser and put others needs first.   Having too many interests (or sometimes too many choices) can make it difficult to make decisions about what to do with your time and your stuff.


Small is Huge – This has been a mantra in our Clearing Clutter Support Group and also in the Declutter Your Life and Mind Facebook Group. What this means is that we look at what we did do no matter what it is or how small it is. We celebrate our wins and don’t worry about what still needs to be done. Consistency is key!

Having a Goal – Having goals whether small or huge can really help with some of those decisions that you want to make.  Begin with the easy, small stuff to help you work towards those bigger goals.  Small changes made over time will impact on the bigger picture.  Small is Huge!!

Develop Some Systems – Focus on one area at a time.  What areas are causing the most stress? Try a new system or plan to deal with these areas in a better way.  If the issue is mail, paper or flyers coming in the door,  you could have a plan for Filing, Acting On, Tossing, Recycling.  Or maybe the dishes aren’t getting done. If you really are opposed to doing dishes after meals, perhaps you could just get them rinsed off and plan to do them in the morning when you have more energy.  Doesn’t really matter what the plan is, as long as you act on it and it works for you.

Letting Go – You can let go of the perceived outcome of the situation and try to allow things to happen as they are meant to happen.  Let go of the fact that even if it is not perfect, that is okay.  This can be challenging but so freeing when you say to yourself “this is perfect just the way it is,  good enough is okay,  I can let this go, this doesn’t have to be perfect,  I have done my best”.  Ahh, doesn’t that feel so much easier.

Put Yourself First – This can really help you to think about what is important to you.  Take some time to get to know who you are and what you want to do with your time and energy.   Learn to trust yourself and know that you are doing the best you can for yourself.   I really believe it is important to take some time for yourself every day.  Think about the goals you have for you and your life.   Ask for help when you need it.

Now it is your turn.  What are some things that help you with clearing the clutter?  I would love to hear from you.

About Kim

Kim Tremblay is a Master Organizer and a Clutter Coach. She has worked with individuals helping them clear the physical and emotional clutter from their lives since 2008. Kim founded and co-facilitated a Clearing Clutter Support Group which has helped hundreds of individuals to make positive changes in their lives. Kim is currently working virtually with clients helping them to clear the emotional and/or physical clutter from their lives. Kim is available to speak to your group about all things organizing.
This entry was posted in De-Clutter Your Life, downsize, Emotional Clutter, goal setting, Inspiration, organize and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Barriers to Clearing the Clutter? There are Solutions!

  1. I find it helpful to consider “What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I decide to XXX?” and choose the lesser of two evils.

  2. Rob Turner says:

    Hi Kim,

    I was at your “Magic of De-cluttering presentation” at the London Public Library tonight (Sept. 29th, 2015) – just wanted to thank you, I found it really thought-provoking and useful. I came home and checked out your website, and just read this piece “Clutter is Really Just Deferred Decision Making” – I found it particularly interesting. In my own case I find myself feeling overwhelmed at tackling the piles of papers and other “stuff” that surround me, and realize that when I make that decision to not do anything, or put it off, that I get a little re-enforcement – a little of that anxiety goes away. One of my own issues is that I spend too much time on the internet and emailing – while I’m doing this, I forget about the anxiety I have about dealing with my clutter. So, time-management is another part of the problem…
    Anyway Kim, lots to think about…thanks again!

    • Kimberley says:

      Thank you Rob, I am so glad you enjoyed the talk. Paper is such a huge issue for most people. Sounds like you have some great insight into what is happening when you put off doing the work or find yourself doing other things. The more you can practice allowing yourself to be okay with a little anxiety the easier it will get. I hope you continue to have many more ah-ha moments.

  3. I agree completely. When I am (or my client is) worried about something happening (which interferes with making a decision), I try to stop (or get my client to stop) and think: What is the realistic likelihood of that thing happening? If the likelihood is great, is there an action I can take to prevent it, or to be prepared for it happening? If the likelihood is low, can I realize that and stop worrying about it?

    • Kimberley says:

      That is a great way to look at it Hazel. So often the likelihood of the worse thing to happen is so low it can be easier to make a decision. One of the things I notice is that individuals have a really hard time trusting their own instincts and self esteem is often the issue. Thanks for commenting Hazel.

  4. I like your point about letting go. It’s so important to have realistic expectations and to remind yourself that progress is better than perfection.

    • Kimberley says:

      Perfectionism is such a challenge for so many people. So often the thought is “if I can’t do it perfect, I won’t do it at all”. I love this reminder and what a great saying “progress is better than perfection”. Beautiful!!

  5. melinda says:

    I’ve been very guilty of magnifying the time I think it will take to do something, so I let it go, because I’m overwhelmed and paralyzed.
    This is a great article. My organizer,
    posted this on her FB page.

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks for letting me know about your Organizer and good for you to be working with her. Yes, I hear that a lot about people feeling so overwhelmed that they then feel paralyzed. We have a saying in our group that “Small is huge” so pat yourself on the back for what you are doing. Thank you so much!!

  6. Kimberley,

    Good information! I think you are right that clutter is really just deferred decision making!!! At some point, the decision has to made: to move your purse off of the kitchen table into your bedroom; to pick up your glass and take it to the sink, etc. In the everyday clutter, we just need to make that decision now, not later. Thanks for your post.

    • Kimberley says:

      Yes, for sure Debbie – sometimes making no decision is making a decision too in a way. Small decisions are a great way to start for sure. Thanks so much for reading and responding.

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