Here are the biggest mistakes I have seen people make in the quest to clear clutter—and how to avoid them.
1. Rushing into it.
The No. 1 mistake most people make is they run out to buy more containers, bins, baskets, hangers, etc., before they start to edit. More often than not, once you get rid of the clutter, you have enough supplies on hand, so use up what you have before you buy anything new. Not only does shopping promote more waste physically, but buying more things could just be another excuse for not doing the work of editing, sorting, categorizing, and organizing.
2. They go to the store blind.
People don't measure before they buy containers! I recommend taking measurements AND photos before you head to the store. It saves a lot of time, frustration, and money.
3. They're not in the right state of mind.
Organizing involves a lot of decision making, and in order to make good decisions you have to be able to think clearly. That means eating properly beforehand, ensuring a distraction free environment, and devoting time to the task at hand.
4. They're overly ambitious.
People devote way too much time when first organizing their home, and they burn out quickly and stop. I work with clients in three-hour blocks so that we can get a lot done without burning out our energy levels. When you start an organizing project alone, block out one hour, zoom in on one area, and then come back to it another time.
5. They're too hard on themselves.
A common mistake I see many people make when they start to declutter is being hard on themselves. Inevitably, feelings come up at the beginning like shame, guilt, frustration, blame of oneself or others, and feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to not forget why you decided to organize in the first place—to take care of yourself and create a highly functional environment.
6. They're after the wrong end goal.
It's easier to manage less than to organize more. We simply need to prioritize what matters most—right now. What we need to live the life we want will change over time. Evolve your possessions as you grow, and you'll find it becomes easier to prioritize what stays and what finds its way out the door.