Why decluttering doesn't work on its own

looking at clothes on rack
Public Domain Unsplash

You have to examine the reasons for why the clutter happened in the first place.

When Netflix launched 'Tidying Up with Marie Kondo' on New Year's Day, it set the tone for the start of 2019. Within weeks the Internet was exploding with articles about decluttering, purging, minimalism, and capsule wardrobes. It seemed that everyone in North America was on a mission to rid their homes of superfluous stuff and streamline their lives.

It's a noble goal to have and one that many of us would do well to pursue, but I am concerned that KonMari-ing one's home is the equivalent of a fad diet. It's an extreme action that gives extreme results, but unless one gets at the root of the issue, all that stuff – just like the weight – is going to come back.

Something caused all that clutter in the first place, after all. Maybe it was an unhealthy addiction to shopping to boost your mood or the thrill of the second-hand hunt, even if you don't need an item. Perhaps you struggle to say no when people foist unwanted things upon you, or you buy things because you feel pressure to appear trendy and varied in your outfits at work. Maybe you lack a sense of personal style, and so you fill your closet with outfits to make the job easier.

Whatever the reason may be, that root cause needs to be analyzed, understood, and weeded out while the decluttering takes place, or else you'll be repeating the whole process within a few months or years.

Writing for her sustainable fashion blog, Tortoise & Lady Grey, Summer Edwards suggests taking the decluttering process slowly and with full awareness:

"Be mindful about what you have, what you need and what you don’t need. Be observant about what you wear, your habits, and your preferences. Notice when you buy something and regret it later. Notice when you buy something and decide that it isn’t really your style. Notice when you buy something that immediately goes out of style. Notice when you buy something that does not make you feel great in your body."

By being aware of these things, you learn to stop yourself before making those same mistakes again. That is how you prevent the unwanted wardrobe buildup, the cluttered surfaces, the bloated credit card bills, the buyer's remorse, and the suffocating overwhelm that accompanies all of these.

Why decluttering doesn't work on its own
You have to examine the reasons for why the clutter happened in the first place.

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