Home Forums Welcome Hello! Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

This topic contains 43 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Avatar of glossta1 glossta1 1 year, 4 months ago.

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  • #160326
    Avatar of ChiFlower
    ChiFlower
    Member

    Is it because we couldn’t possibly deal with the emotions of letting go of everything at once? Is it because we simply don’t have the mental energy to make decisions on everything at once? I really wonder what you all think. Why is it so hard to let things go?

  • #232653

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    IME, there are any number of reasons why uncluttering takes time. Making decisions takes energy. As we make decisions, we get better at it and it gets quicker. Some decisions associated with decluttering (should I give this old family thing to my sister/brother/son/daughter? or give it to charity?) take more mental effort than others. Deciding to use a single charity for donations rather than two or three “perfect for this item” charities takes less effort.

    The ideas of saving things for Justin Case, “I paid good money for this”, “it could be repaired”, “but my grandmother gave me this”, and “I need to give this to someone who will appreciate it” can be emotionally draining to get around. Ignoring those inner voices gets easier as you make decisions. Keep your eyes on the prize, not on the past.

    Last, sometimes getting rid of things once you have made a decision takes time. Ebay, Craigslist, freecycle all require you to do work to get rid of things: writing, listing, photographing, shipping, arranging for pickup. If you have to drive your decluttered items somewhere, that takes time. If you arrange for a charity to pickup the items, you can save your effort for other decisions.

  • #232657
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    1) Decision making is hard and takes a lot of mental energy, as you both have mentioned. Also, because we all have other responsibilities in our lives, sometimes we put off the hard work of decision making to do other equally important work where the path to success is more obvious.

    2) Our tolerance for clutter changes as we progress. Which makes the process feel much longer – because we might reach an initial goal (clear out the closet) and then realize we love the space in the closet and add on another goal, like tackling the kitchen. And then we might realize that the closet could actually be even MORE uncluttered. Etc. The finish line keeps moving.

    3) @mad_scientist makes a good point that actually getting rid of the things takes time and energy, especially for the many of us on the forum that rely on public transit, etc. Arranging for pick-up can be a good idea, but in my area you have to schedule several months in advance.

    4) Sometimes, people are still bringing things IN while they unclutter – which is OK up to a point, but you have to be careful you aren’t just “churning” your stuff

    5) The very fact we are cluttered to begin with makes uncluttering time consuming. Part of the problem with clutter is it slows us down and drains our energy. If you have a cluttered home, you don’t have a clear place to spread things out for sorting. Or you might have to spend a lot of time grouping like items together before you realize how many vases or umbrellas or magazines you actually have. Or you might be spending a lot of time cleaning and putting things away that drains your energy.

  • #232664

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Good responses! I know for myself there are several other factors:

    (1) As I do not live alone, much uncluttering involves negotiations with DH. Even when I have accomplished all the aforementioned steps — I’ve detached from an item, decided on a way to dispose of it, have the time to sort through it, etc — I have to repeat the process with him, who may have a totally different take on it.

    (2) Some — many — items at this point involve processing. I can’t just throw out old papers — they have to be sorted, evaluated, some may need to be shredded rather than just tossed into the recycle bin . . . I can get rid of that shelf of research materials, but not until I write the book :) Before I donate the old cel phone to the domestic violence group I need to find the charger . . . The small rototiller is broken but I need to figure out if it can be repaired before we decide to toss it. . . . you get the idea.

  • #232666
    Avatar of djk
    djk
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    So much of the previous resonates with me.

    Often I put off projects because I have to wait until I am home alone because of the obstructive mess sorting or fixing makes. When it comes to fixes DH is not helpful at all; he has zero handy skills and doesn’t want to increase that number, either.

  • #232667
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @susanintexas – ABSOLUTELY to both of your items. I was coming back to say something along the lines of your #2 – especially when it comes to papers. Sometimes projects need to be uncluttered, but sometimes they are still valid projects and well on their way to completion…but they aren’t quite there yet. And I can’t believe I didn’t think of #1, as negotiation with DH is a major part of my process as well!

  • #232673
    Avatar of Northshore
    Northshore
    Participant

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Very thoughtful responses, most of which ring true for me.

    I find that much of my clutter is the result of not making a decision–wanting to find the perfect home for things, trying to be environmentally responsible, hoping that someone will show up at my house and say “Oh, I always wanted 1000 classical LPs.” Making decisions can be hard work.

  • #232677
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Uncluttering was super time-consuming for me at first, because I had to move EVERYTHING in order to deal with ANYTHING. Srsly.

    It is soooo nice to not have to move object A in order to use object B.

  • #232680
    Avatar of liag
    liag
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    When a job seems/is mammoth, it is difficult for some of us to break it down into small steps and be content with nearly invisible progress for some time. That’s what gives me trouble. The regular routines such as ATAD, 50 by Fri, etc.,would help, it seems. Once you see some results, it is far easier to keep the momentum. So it may be best to dig in hard with little thought till then. Maintenance, at least is easy and takes little time.

  • #232687
    Avatar of TatiLie
    TatiLie
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    As any activity, you need practice to become good at.
    Once your decluttering ‘muscles’ are developed is very easy to keep going. In fact, I find cluttering more time consuming now. I find exhausting shopping and make decisions about what to buy because any item must be absolutely perfect in order to qualify.

  • #232693
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @TatiLie – interesting! I’ve noticed that shopping has become a bit more tiring, but I still sometimes enjoy it.

    My decluttering muscles are definitely getting stronger, but the decisions get harder as well the further I go. So it is a bit of a mixed bag.

  • #232702
    Avatar of ChiFlower
    ChiFlower
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Loving all the responses so far.

    I’ve noticed myself, that the less stuff I have, the more difficult the decluttering becomes. Because the “easy” items have already gone. Unless I find somewhere where I haven’t even started, eg. a box out of my storage unit.

  • #232705
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    We could pack everything up and just drive it to donation, but then there are all the reasons why not to do that.

  • #232709
    Avatar of liag
    liag
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    But don’t you daydream about packing up EVERYthing or most things and starting anew?

  • #232711
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @liag – Um, YES. Frequently. And if DH had the same daydreams, we probably would have done it by now, though I agree that for most people it isn’t the “right way.”

  • #232716
    Avatar of liag
    liag
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    I guess it’s good we have dh’s or we might be penniless after chucking and replacing repeatedly!

  • #232749
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    We have whole industries designed to get stuff TO us, but we’re pretty on our own for getting rid of things – I COULD throw everythign I get rid of in the trash, it would be faster, but I’d be limited to one can a week, which is pretty slow especially given that the school, mail, trash-dropping neighbors, and even Mother Nature are always giving me things to get rid of (we had a heavy snow today, had to pick up & bundle a bunch of elm branches.)

    When we reroofed our garaged, the roofing supply store helpfully delivered us a whole pallet of shingles. But the old shingles we pulled off the roof, I had to rent a special, construction-supply-allowed, dumpster to get rid of. Other construction supplies were similarly delivered but then I had to rent a truck and get a landfill voucher and take a Saturday morning to get rid of them. Right now I have a whole trunkload of toxic waste – mostly fluorescent lightbulbs and electronics, but also a TV someone oh-so-helpfully abandoned in our alley – that i have to drive out to the the toxic waste dropoff, but only during business hours and not on holidays.

  • #232760
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    the actual physical act of selecting something and either giving it, donating it, recycling it, or trashing it….that doesn’t take me very long any more.
    ie decluttering in itself isn’t so time consuming for me.
    what IS taking time is cleaning and organising what i want to keep.
    and why i am still decluttering after four years is the fact that my ideas of what i really need to keep, are changing all the time. things that didn’t look like clutter before, now look like clutter.

  • #232826
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @Rosa – I really like what you said about there being whole industries designed to tempting us with stuff and delivering stuff to us – but we are more-or-less on our own when we try to get rid of it. Very good point.

    This is a good thread so carry on – don’t let the spammer win! :)

  • #232836
    Avatar of Lounger
    Lounger
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Decluttering really does get easier the more you do. Suddenly you find that that you’re not struggling uphill with trying to conquer it, you’ve actually stuck the flag on top and are coming down the other side, and that’s a *good* feeling!

  • #232838
    Avatar of Joless
    Joless
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Instant and easy to buy something, time consuming and difficult to pass something on. We were just lamenting this the other day as we considered a huge IKEA desk we need to get rid of which took moments to buy and we can’t figure out how to get rid of because we can’t even get it downstairs without assistance!

  • #232843
    Avatar of Parsifal
    Parsifal
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Uncluttering doesn’t HAVE to be tedious and painful. One of my best efforts happened when I went through a phase where I dreaded going into work early. Instead, I spent 5 minutes in each room tidying every morning. Within a month, my apartment was the cleanest it has ever been. For me, the key is to make a continuous habit of picking things up and passing along useful items one at a time.

    Of course, this doesn’t help with big things, but I find it really minimizes the pain of dealing with the bulk of clutter. In fact, the hard part is NOT spending too long cleaning at any one time to avoid getting burned out.

  • #232845
    Avatar of ChiFlower
    ChiFlower
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Sometimes you have to wait for a long time for the right buyer to come along. I just sold a particular book that I’ve been listing for about 3 months, lol. Was about to just donate it somewhere, but looks like I don’t have to now. :)

    The few dollars I get will go towards paying success fees of other online auctions I’ve sold.

    I guess it can take so long because we want our stuff to go to the appropriate places, not just trash it.

  • #232852
    Avatar of Katt
    Katt
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @Parsifal, that’s an excellent point. Sometimes those consistent short efforts can really add up.

    For me dealing with clutter involves enough extra time/energy that it feels like a struggle. Leaving for work 15 minutes early so I have time to drop something off, remembering every Thursday evening to check if there’s room for extra stuff to be trashed in the apartment dumpster, trying to find good homes for excess stuff, and keeping things tidy and cared for–to be honest, it exhausts me.

    I look forward to coming down the other side of Clutter Mountain, as @lounger put it so nicely. I think I’m taking a short rest, but it must be short, or my uncluttering muscles will stiffen up and it’ll just be more difficult.

  • #232862

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    How about friends / family members who say they will swing by to collect something and then don’t (one could also collect some money I owe her at the same time). They may only be small things like books but when I offer to post them back and they won’t provide a postal address it gets really frustrating.

    Then there’s the weather. In dry weather one can more easily stash stuff outside to prepare for a garage sale or sit until they can be hauled off to the charity bins; but in the wet? With lots of rain (like now) our garage gets water coming in so it’s not safe to put cardboard boxes directly on the floor. Finding something they can sit up on is a challenge when the plastic boxes only take so much weight or size.

    And then there’s my current project of listing my stuff to send off to others who are still in the industry to see if they want anything before I try selling things in a garage sale or on-line.

  • #232893
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Laetitia, several years in a row I announced that I was spending a week in the summer cleaning our attic and should anyone we know have anything they left up there, it was going in the trash if they didn’t come claim it. We’ve had a lot of people staying here over the years, and we were the first in our social circle to buy a house, so there was quite a bit.

    Nobody ever said “oh this thing that is very precious to me might be up there, I will come help you haul things from the 3rd floor to the first, after all I have really enjoyed not having to worry about my precious object in all the years since I lived with you/asked you to store something in your wonderful big house.”

    UNTIL the date I started cleaning, and then the panicked phone calls – oh did you find my childhood favorite toy? My college diploma? Actually I am pretty sure my mom’s wedding ring is in a box of random crap I left with you when I was mid-divorce, did you happen to see it?

    I did set aside the treasured things I found (including the baby wubby, and the college diploma, and a box of what i’m fairly sure were compromising photos) but I didn’t tell them I was not tossing it, so they all turned up to claim them that very day. Also I got at least one heavy thing hauled down the stairs before I gave up the treasured object, too.

    I do still have one friend’s precious things – wedding china from her dead mother, mostly – but she ASKED if I would store them, she didn’t just have them mailed here or move out and leave stuff behind. And it’s boxed up tight, clearly labeled, and covered with a blanket. If she ever gets a stable place to live I trust her to come get it.

  • #232896

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Rosa – I have a couple of books that migrated from my parents’ old place to mine when Mum moved. At least one party has said that I can chuck the book in the recycling bin (pages are falling out so charity won’t want it). The other one belongs to the one to whom I owe money – at least I know where she lives so I can drop stuff in her box but it’s easier for her to take a small detour to my place on her way to work whereas I have limited access to a car. Funny thing is that I’ve offered to do internet banking (which she even suggested) for the $ but she still hasn’t given me her details for that.

  • #232906
    Avatar of Nina
    Nina
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    I think for me it takes time because I don’t feel like I’m ever done. My uncluttering comes in bouts – sometimes brough on by something like a visit or a move (I can’t wait to move to spend some time uncluttering), sometimes it’s triggered by a realization that I no longer need/want/love something because my interests have changed. Or when it comes to sentimental items it might just take time to be ready to move on.
    The uncluttering itself does take some time, especially if I try to sell something, but I always feel like it’s worth it once the item leaves the house. That is one of the main reasons I’ve given things I might have been able to sell to charity. Could I use the extra cash? Sure, but having the items gone and not having to worry about them is also worth something, even if you might not be able to measure it in terms of money.

  • #232914

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    For me, things claimed by others and not picked up loom large and irritate me beyond the clutter they create. A friend of MIL’s asked if she could have her no longer needed disability aids — shower bench, grab rails, toilet arms, etc. — so we pulled them out of the estate sale. I’ve been trying to hook up with her for almost six months (we’re willing to deliver) and they get my dander up every time I pass them stacked up in OUR garage.

    I also think people’s concept of time differs. Although I am at heart a patient person (I have no problem decluttering a thing a day, for example) once I make up my mind to do something I like to get it done. I think in terms of hours and days. DH operates in decades. It’s a constant struggle with me always thinking things are moving too slow and him worrying that it’s all going too fast.

  • #232917
    Avatar of Joless
    Joless
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    We re-discussed this just yesterday as we ordered a new sofa without even getting up off the old one!

  • #232923

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Going back to letting it all go – I’m someone who wouldn’t mind doing that now. I didn’t appreciate it when a 1999 tornado relieved me of all worldly goods, but I’d be happy enough for it to happen again at this point. Most techie stuff is easily replaced and I have very few keepsakes. I sort of panic about the idea of going back to being attached to possessions because it’s so painful to make decisions about them and to let them go.

  • #232933
    Avatar of djk
    djk
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Lkh!
    Nice to hear from you; I’ve been wondering how everything is going for you. Have you moved yet to be with your DF?

  • #232934
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member
  • #232954
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @chacha – Thanks for that link. I really needed to hear the DO IT NOW message.(I’ve heard it before in various incarnations, of course, but the exact phrase felt new to me.)

    More relevant for me in terms of PEEP, keeping up with work tasks, etc. The decisions involved in uncluttering can still take a while – I can tell myself to “decide now”, but that doesn’t always magically help me decide. :)

  • #232957
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Check out the Digital Project thread for moar, moar input on this. It’s a mess because nobody taught us better; we are the first mainstream generation to question online habits.

  • #232975
    Avatar of
    Anonymous

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Nodding to so much of this! I think also it’s time… most of us spent at least 20 years establishing a clutter-base… or even thirty… it just keeps growing. My clutter arrived in one huge lump when I moved in with my husband and all his furniture was delivered from storage. What a nightmare. An entire household’s worth of ugly furniture that someone else had chosen. Then we had kids, and another mountain of crapola descended upon us.

    Then every birthday and Christmas, more comes in the door.

    No wonder it’s hard to unclutter! We start with SO much and keep ADDING!

    I keep telling DH that we should get a garbage skip in so I can have a purge, but he never goes for it. I suspect he’s scared I’ll get rid of all his stuff.

  • #232984

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    klutzgrrl – just order the bin and, if he complains, tell him that you are at least as responsible for the state of your abode as he is and you’ll work on your own stuff. If you’re lucky he’ll start work on his own while you’ve got access to the bin.

    Please don’t do what my mum did – not purge and not stand up to her husband for fear of his griping. Sorry – watched my parents’ interactions for years and it got to me. :-)

  • #232988
    Avatar of Allison
    Allison
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Lounger – Loving your response! It’s all so true. I think the reason it becomes easier is because you have to discipline your mind to make decisions you may have once not been comfortable with making. It could also have something to do with strengthening the neurological pathways in the brain for decision making. The more you act, the easier it becomes because your brain is mentally more capable of making decisions and handling the outcome. Whatever the reason, when you’ve accomplished the once seemingly impossible, it is very much a GOOD feeling!

  • #232996
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Last night I focused on “Do It Now” when I got home with moderate success and I think that might be my March goal – one month of no other goals beyond building the Do It Now habit. I foresee two possible stumbling blocks for me, but I think the benefits would still be huge:

    1) I have so many backlogged tasks, I can’t really do EVERYTHING when I think of it. But c’est la vie – I can do a lot of things, and perfection probably isn’t the point.

    2) I can imagine becoming more irritated by my “do it later” DH – and I will probably do an even higher percentage of the housework than I already do. I’ve noticed before when I make an effort, say, to wash my dishes immediately after I eat, and then I get home from work to find a pile of his dishes in the sink (we have different schedules), it has felt really frustrating. But maybe, like uncluttering, the trick is for me to feel the pain for a while as I lead by example, with the hope that he will adopt similar habits. Or maybe cleaning up after both of us won’t feel so herculean if I really am keeping up with the cleaning hour-by-hour.

  • #233002

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @ djk – no, I haven’t moved yet, it’s not until June and I’m having a bit of a hard time with the last few months of waiting. I’m waiting because my son is a high school senior. I’m enjoying the precious months with my kiddos but I miss my DF so much that I feel completely paralyzed without him. It’s not good and I don’t think throwing things away will make me feel better this time :( le sigh.

  • #233071

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    sleepykitten – I have the same no. 1 problem. E.g. as I walk to the bedroom to put my phone on charge, I see something that needs to be put away – do I (a) detour to put said item away and potentially forget to charge my phone or (b) continue to the phone charger and potentially forget the thing to be put away? Sorting the mail I come across a bill to be paid – do I walk over the the Bills To Be Paid folder then and there or wait until I have sorted or the mail to more efficiently put all new bills in that folder after having written due dates on a calendar (both calendar and folder live in different areas from each other and different places from where other sorted mail – e.g. reading material for me, reading material for DH – may have to go). Morning activities may include shower, breakfast, music practice, exercise…I think of them all at once but can’t do them all at the same time. And these are just the simple things, never mind bigger projects.

    However, I can improve on putting stuff back where it belongs when I’m done with it (rather than in a week’s time after I’ve spent a day looking for it) to reduce the load later. I’ve also had the same thought as the writer of the nerdfitness article that doing stuff now is actually a lazy way to live because it reduces the potential for excess activities (moving stuff multiple times instead of once).

  • #233099
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    @Laetitia – Yes, I really liked that idea of “doing it now” reducing the work long-term (and thus being the lazy person’s most logical choice). I think that is often true. I noticed today that I dropped something that needed washing across the back of a chair – how much harder would it have been to put it in the laundry hamper? Instead of then having to move the item from the chair to the hamper later. I think that small act was simply one of indecisiveness (maybe I could wear the item again before washing…but in that case, it should be hung up in the closet, etc.) and multiplied by 10 or more times a day, I am creating more work for myself.

    Retraining begins now….

  • #233110
    Avatar of ChiFlower
    ChiFlower
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Along the same lines as “doing it now” is another favourite of mine: “Handle everything only ONCE”.

    Eg. throw that teabag straight into the trash, don’t first put it on a saucer, or in the sink, because you will only have to waste more time dealing with it later.

  • #233535
    Avatar of glossta1
    glossta1
    Member

    Why is uncluttering so time-consuming?

    Chiflower, yes PEEPing helped me a lot. I think I need to start DIN and HEOO as well. To answer the original question, I think for me uncluttering is timeconsuming because some of my clutter was caused by procrastination, and faced with the task of tackling the clutter, I tend to procrastinate some more. I am winning the battle, but slower than I would like. When I feel good after a spell of success by TUMM TIM (Tidying Up More Mess Than I Make) I am motivated to pull in lots more little uncluttering tasks. When I feel swamped I am much more at risk of procrastination.

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