Common Roadblocks to Decluttering and How to Overcome Them (Even when it feels Impossible!)

**The posts we write might contain affiliate links or be written in collaboration with businesses or brands. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.**

Decluttering your home and purging your life of excess possessions is an empowering and exhausting experience.

We’ve talked about why it’s important and crucial to simplify your home, and worked through the basic decluttering process with practical tips to make things easier.

However, as you go through the process of simplifying your house, you will run into common decluttering roadblocks that have the power to derail you if you’re not careful.

Let’s look at what these roadblocks to decluttering are, and talk about how to overcome them so you can continue on with your mission!

Common Roadblocks to Decluttering and How to Overcome Them

1. Sentimental Value

Some people are more sentimental and emotional than others, but everyone has some level of attachment to sentimental items in their life.

These items that have sentimental value for any reason are often tricky to declutter, purge and donate. It’s easy to want to hang on to everything that has any kind of sentimental value but that’s where clutter comes from. You have to be careful.

Next week, we’re going to talk about some ways to repurpose, honor, and remember old items with sentimental value like old baby clothes, or clothes from a loved one who passed away. We’re also going to talk about photos and ideas for honoring them as well.

It’s also ok to have a tub or two of memorabilia in your home. I (Laura) actually have a handful of these type of tubs in my house.

Laura’s “Special Boxes”

I’m very simplicity-minded now as an adult, but I was a packrat as a kid; I have very strong emotional ties to a lot of the items I’ve saved from childhood.

Even though I’ve purged my house and possessions many times since moving out on my own, a lot of those things still remain in my home. But they’re intentionally kept, placed in tubs that fit in my basement shelving unit, and they are labeled so I can remember what and where everything is. I’ll continue to go through them whenever I embark on a whole-house sweep, and each time I do, I donate a few more things. But until then, those tubs live on a shelving unit in the basement with their labels so I know what is inside, and that is just fine with me.

– – – – –

The bottom line with items of sentimental value is you need to decide if you’ll ever do anything with the items, or if they are weighing you down in any way. A lot of what I’ve saved is stuff I think my children will enjoy as they get a little older, so I’m holding on to that with the purpose of giving it to them in the future.

Listen to your gut on this. A lot of the time, you’ll know if you should be giving something away but the sentimental value is getting in your way. You’ll feel it, and you’ll be fighting it. If you LOVE something that has sentimental value to you, great – keep it. Better yet, display it!

But make sure you listen to your gut and remember, you can’t keep everything. Some things have to go.

Common Roadblocks to Decluttering and How to Overcome Them (Even when it feels Impossible!) with Up North Parent

2. Gifts

Another tricky spot is any item that was a gift. When someone gives us something, we have this tendency to feel like we have to keep it, even if it’s something we’ll never wear, never put on a shelf in our home, never use, or sometimes don’t even like.

We need to GET OVER THIS. No guilt is allowed here.

The truth is, those items that you don’t love but are holding onto out of guilt or other complicated emotions? There are people out there who would love to own and use them in their homes.

Donate the items and allow them to bless others.

3. Multiple Variations of the Same Loved Item

This is hard because if you like a certain shirt or pair of socks for example, and you have a bunch of them, you will likely want to keep all of them because you love them! But too many of a good thing is still too many.

Consider your available space (in your dresser drawers etc) and consider the amount you can possibly use something. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I will never be able to wear 30 different t-shirts.

4. Decision Paralysis

Decision paralysis can happen in any situation where you have too many choices. You become paralyzed by the decision-making process and often the fear of making the wrong choice, so you can’t and don’t make a decision at all.

During the decluttering process, you are making decision after decision about the items in your life. Throw away? Donate? Keep? The entire process is one big decision.

This can be overwhelming, especially if you’re working with hard items like clothing or any item with some type of sentimental value. Those decisions get even harder.

If you’re feeling paralyzed by the decisions you need to make, try to do it quick. The faster you make the decision, the less likely you’ll start to over think it and think yourself out of the decision to donate.

Like I mentioned above, your gut will tell you what you should do. If you pay attention to your initial reaction, that’s likely what you need to follow.

5. Decide What to KEEP. Everything Else Goes Away.

We talked about this in the 8 basic tips for decluttering post, but the way to revolutionize your decluttering process and get rid of way more clutter is to do the reverse of what you’re likely doing now.

Instead of looking at your stuff to decide what you can get rid of, you need to TAKE EVERYTHING OUT. Take it out of your closet, out of your dresser drawers, out of your pantry. Everything comes out, and then you look at it all and decide what to keep.

Decide what stays, and everything else gets donated, sold or thrown away.

The subtle difference between looking at your clutter and deciding what to keep, instead of looking for things you dislike enough to donate or get rid of is the key to truly decluttering and simplifying your home in ways you never have before.

6. “But I might need that someday.”

Here’s the thing. Don’t hold on to a $10 kitchen gadget in the off chance you might need to use it in 2 years. If you do need to use one in 2 years, go buy one then.

In the meantime, you’ll have less stuff in your kitchen drawers and cabinets, less clutter in your home, and your daily life (and mind!) will be better for it.

Hanging on to everything “just in case” is a surefire way to collect clutter fast.

7. Losing Motivation

It’s very easy to lose your motivation, especially in the middle of the mess.

It seems like this happens to me every time I start a big project like this. I take everything out of my closet for example, and start looking it over and deciding what I want to keep.

But then, I get hungry. And then I get tired. Pretty soon, I’m sick of it all and want to be done.

Instead, fight the urge to quit and keep going. Make decisions even faster. Listen to your gut and follow it.

The sooner you keep going, the sooner you’ll be DONE and you can move on, enjoying your newly decluttered space!

8. Donate Where?

Wondering where you should donate all of your stuff to? This is going to be a separate post later this month because there are so many great options for donating your stuff.

From non-profit thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill to mom-and-pop thrift stores, garage sale fundraisers for churches or charities, and places like the Women’s Shelter and Pregnancy Support Center, there are so many great organizations that want your donations, and some of them will even come and pick them up.

– – – – –

If you’re not careful, the simplifying and decluttering process can be majorly interrupted or even sabotaged by these common decluttering roadblocks.

They will sneak up on you and take your eyes and mind off of your mission, and pretty soon, you’re kicking everything under your bed or into your closet and deciding to call it a day.

By being aware of these 8 common roadblocks to the mission of trying to declutter your home, you are better able to ward them off or overcome them so you can continue on with your goal!

P.S. Join us on social media with the hashtag #UpNoPaSimplify as we go through this simplifying journey together!

P.P.S If you need inspiration and help in your decluttering and simplifying journey, we highly recommend Emily Ley’s book A Simplified Life, and Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Common Roadblocks to Decluttering and How to Overcome Them (Even when it feels Impossible!) with Up North Parent

Laura Radniecki | Up North Parent | Parenting Website in Minnesota

Laura is a motherhood blogger and photographer from the Brainerd Lakes Area in Minnesota. Her mission is to seek joy in the midst of motherhood, and encourage other mamas to do the same. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, a mama to their firstborn son, Raleigh, and a dog-mama to their feisty 6lb toy poodle, Remy. She spends her days chasing after them, while daydreaming about naps, crafts, and donuts with sprinkles. She writes at

2 thoughts on “Common Roadblocks to Decluttering and How to Overcome Them (Even when it feels Impossible!)

  1. Losing motivation is my #1 roadblock! It’s so easy to get discouraged. That’s why I like taking before and after pictures – to remind me how far I’ve come! That’s usually the encouragement I need to keep going!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.