5 Biggest Challenges to Decluttering and How to Solve Them

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You’ve decided to declutter and organize the hardest room in your house. Maybe it’s your basement, maybe it’s your storage closet. For me, it’s the office. This is the room in the house where paperwork goes to die — I mean be filed. Sometimes it feels like the challenges to decluttering outweigh the benefits, but I have solutions.

challenges to decluttering

It’s no secret I love to organize, but that doesn’t mean that everything I have is organized or that all of my spaces are organized. It simply means I love the process of organizing and even more so I LOVE the feeling of being organized.

Ever since I made the move to work from home I knew that our office needed to be organized so that I could be more productive. Hence my 2018 SMART goal.

Now the time has come to begin and I am overwhelmed just like so many of you. In fact, I am having complete paralysis of where to start. I want to help all of us overcome this paralysis and get started on our biggest clutter challenges.

If you, like me, are struggling with where and how to start, it’s okay. You are not alone, even lovers of organization struggle sometimes.

the office: a declutter challenge

How to Overcome the Challenges to Decluttering:

Challenge: I don’t have enough time to devote to complete the project.

Solution: You are not alone. Most of us cannot dedicate an entire weekend to one organization project, and even if you could, you may not want to. The solution is to devote just 15 minutes a day to the project. I know it doesn’t seem like you can get much done in 15 minutes, but you’ll be surprised. Set a timer, turn on some music, and get to work. Stop after 15 minutes and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.


Challenge: I don’t have the space to empty everything out of the room to get started.

Solution: You don’t have to. Yes, it does seem ideal to empty out the room and slowly put only the items that you need and/or want back in. However, that’s just not feasible for most of us. Instead, you need to declutter first, which will make it look much messier at first. Then, reassemble the room in sections. Be sure you have your donation station set-up to make this process even easier.

Challenge: I just get so overwhelmed when I walk in the room, I have no idea where to start.

Solution: Deciding you don’t want to live in clutter and disorganization is where you start. Go into the room and pick one section and start there. Remember you’re only going to spend 15 minutes on it, which isn’t long enough to overwhelm you, but long enough to accomplish something. Maybe you pick the bookshelf in an office, coats in a closet, or dishes in a kitchen. Whatever item you choose to start with that is all you get to work on for the next 15 minutes. Do not get distracted by all other things. This will be difficult, but keep reminding yourself of what you are focused.

Remember, that when you are organizing a space it will get messier before it gets organized. I encourage you to take a picture of the space before you get started so that you can see the progress. I promise you, you will forget what it looked like before you got started. Check out some before and after pictures from a linen closet to see how much can be done in just four hours.

 Challenge: I’m not sure how to organize everything in the space

Solution: You don’t have to know the final look you want when you get started. The first thing you need to do is figure out what things you want to keep in the space and what things you don’t want to keep in the space. After you have eliminated all of the things you don’t want, you can look at what’s left and start to determine how it should look.

Ask yourself what the function of the space is. If you are organizing a small space, be sure to check out my tips for organizing a closet or other small space. Though the concept works for any space.

Have a friend or family member come and give you some ideas on how to best use and organize the space. Get on Pinterest and look up some simple ideas, look at magazines, or watch some HGtv shows. Caution: a simple reorganization may become a complete room overhaul with too many HGtv or Pinterest ideas though.

Challenge: It’s not all my stuff and I can’t make decisions about my partner or children’s stuff without their permission, so unless they are present I can’t get anything done.

Solution: Oh, how I understand this challenge to decluttering; it happens to me all of the time. This is an easy fix.You start working on the space and do what you can. I’m sure there is stuff that is yours, or family stuff that you are able to declutter and organize. When it comes to someone else’s stuff make a pile or many piles of their stuff.Then when they are available, have them sort through that pile. They have to decide what stays and what goes. Once they have decided you can decide where the best place for those items to be stored.

This solution also works great for someone who is not as excited about this declutter/organization project as yourself. Instead of making them spend the 15 minutes every day with you, they only spend 15 minutes once and awhile to go through their items. I find it easier to sort and organize without helpers.

I have reviewed five of the most popular challenges I hear when it comes to decluttering and organizing spaces, especially your most cluttered spaces. Some of these I also struggle with from time to time. I hope these solutions help you to see that is possible and get motivated to start.

Please share with me any other challenges you have. I want to help you find a way to solve the challenges to decluttering that you face and organize your home so that you can enjoy your spaces, find things you need quickly, and stop being overwhelmed by your stuff.

I'd love to hear from you.

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