Do you always seem to find yourself wishing you could try this minimalism thing you keep hearing about? Have you seen pins about the declutter challenge on Pinterest and been interested?
Or maybe you have tried but failed for some reason or another. Or quite possibly you’re more like me, and you’ve tried to declutter and minimize so many times you feel like an utter failure.
If any of this describes you, then you’re in the right place. I’m going to unpack some of the common mistakes I’ve made and that I’ve seen friends make as we try to attain that ever-elusive minimalism lifestyle.
So, keep reading to learn the top six mistakes most people make when trying out minimalism for the first time. And even the tenth time for some of us!
Mistake 1 – Not setting realistic goals
Too many people make this one mistake. You think that you can jump in and clear out your entire home over a weekend. Don’t let those TV shows fool you.
Most of the time I would be willing to bet they take longer than the three days they’re claiming. Plus they have an entire team of professionals. So, give yourself grace. You don’t want a bunch of strangers going through your home anyway.
So set some realistic goals and enjoy the process.
Mistake 2 – Jumping in too fast and taking on too much
Yes, when you tackle a big job you need to jump in with both feet. If you think you will spend a few minutes going through one pile and be done with your declutter challenge, you’re sorely mistaken. Unless you’re already doing a pretty good job of being a minimalist anyway.
But for the rest of us who have practically made an Olympic sport out of shopping for cute bags and shoes, it’s a different story.
For some of us, the clutter is taking over so much of our house that we want to dive right in and clear it all out on a weekend.
But jumping in too fast and taking on too much, in the beginning, can also be a disaster in the making. Anyone who has spent an entire afternoon going through their closet only to have a bigger mess than they can handle knows how disheartening this can be.
So avoid mistake number two and find that Goldilocks method of clearing the clutter. You’re willing to jump in with both feet but also understand that you need to go slow and methodically tackle your clutter so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Mistake 3 – Letting the guilt take over
I will say it a hundred times. And I will say it one more time. Give yourself grace.
Don’t let the guilt take over as you clear out your home and work towards that peaceful, minimal home you want so badly. It’s okay that you spent money on it at one point. Don’t continue to throw more money at storing it, cleaning around it, and simply letting it rob you of a minimalist home.
Take a deep breath and forgive yourself. Whether you feel guilty that it cost money and you’re tossing it out. Or you feel guilty that your great aunt gave it to you as a gift, but you never wear it. Donate it, it must be something that someone will like. But it doesn’t have to be you.
And of course, the hardest thing for me is the sentimental gift. The artwork my kids bring home is so hard to get rid of. I have spent so much guilt on keeping things that I simply don’t have space for. Now, I take a picture and let it go.
But man, this one mistake can stop you in your tracks as you work towards decluttering on your path for minimalism. We all make this mistake, but eventually, we can work past it and continue decluttering our homes so they can be the peaceful haven we envision.
Mistake 4 – Forgetting to practice patience and forgiveness
To piggyback off the last mistake, you need to give yourself time and grace in the declutter challenge. You didn’t get into this mess overnight and you won’t get out of it overnight either.
And that’s okay.
Additionally, as you go through your stuff one by one you will find items that you feel guilty about recycling or donating. You spent good money on it and now you’re just discarding it. Take the time to process your emotions, but don’t wallow in them.
Mistake 5 – You’re not scheduling maintenance to keep it up
It’s one thing to spend a weekend clearing out your kitchen cabinets and counters. Only to have them cluttered up again a few weeks later. If you don’t take the time to establish some sort of maintenance schedule, then you’re sure to end up right back where you started.
You need to change your daily habits if you’re going to keep up with your newly-minimalist home. And I have found that creating simple routines help me to keep up with the daily clutter that always seems to creep back into our home.
So, if you want to keep up with your beautifully organized kitchen, then you need to create a daily routine of clearing out the sink, running the dishwasher, and wiping down the counters. Don’t let the mail pile up on the counter until the weekend, you’ll end up overwhelmed and won’t know where to start.
So, just do a little each day so you never have to do a lot at once.
Mistake 6 – You don’t stop bringing in more stuff
Just like when you’re digging out of debt, when you’re digging out of clutter you need to stop digging the hole first. There is no sense in making this mistake of taking all that time to clear out the clutter only to let it all start bombarding your home every day.
This one is hard because so much of the daily clutter can’t really be stopped. But you can create routines for how to handle it as mentioned in the mistake/tip above. And you can be more intentional about what you purchase.
Eventually, you need to admit that a large part of your clutter is because of emotional or impulse purchases. And that is where you need to focus your attention when it comes to stopping the deluge of new stuff coming into your home.
Don’t make these common declutter challenge mistakes – take steps towards minimalism today
Now you know the top mistakes to watch out for. If you’re even more motivated now to tackle a declutter challenge, you can check out my article here about how to become a minimalist.
In that article, I walk through my five simple step process for decluttering and minimizing your life so you can finally have peace in your home.
It can be so hard in today’s consumerist society to pare down our belongings to a more manageable amount. But I am determined to keep trying until I reach that sweet spot where I am no longer overwhelmed when I open my closet in the morning. So stick with me and let’s walk through this together.