The Best Way to FINALLY Get out of a Decluttering Rut

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If you’re stuck in a decluttering rut, it can sometimes feel like the easiest option is to just do nothing. Live with your clutter. Shuffle it into a semblance of organization and call it a day.  Which is fine if that gives you peace.

But what do you do if your clutter is making you miserable? How do you take action when it all seems too hard?

In early 2017, my husband and I packed up our kids and took off on a round-the-world trip.

For four months we lived out of a large suitcase which contained a packing cube for each of us. We also had a daypack each and a bag for the baby stuff. All of this could be hauled on the collapsible stroller the baby refused to sit in 🙂

When we arrived back home, our house sitters had the place looking cleaner than we have ever had it and we were so happy to get settled back in our tidy home. Until I started unpacking, that is.

Even though we downsized pretty dramatically a few years back, our small house is still quite full. I’m becoming more minimalist in my way of thinking, but we still have loads of stuff which doesn’t meet the useful or beautiful (or my personal favourite, goals) threshold. It’s a work in progress!

When I started to unpack the things we’d stored away so our house sitters would be comfortable, I was overwhelmed.

Not because I could envisage a huge decluttering task ahead, but because I realized that decluttering is never done.
But that’s OK, the important thing is I’m working on it. And this burst of inspiration was spawned by being away from home and living a clutter-free life.

How to break out of your decluttering rut

If there’s one thing I truly think everyone should do when experiencing a decluttering funk it’s this: take a trip somewhere, away from home. You don’t need to go far. Go somewhere new. Have an experience you’ve always dreamed of.

If you can afford it, tick something off your bucket list. Bring an overnight bag. Focus on the joy you get from a new experience, and how few of your material belongings are with you. Compare that feeling to the one you get when you stare at an overstuffed cupboard in your house.

Set the bar for yourself, because until you’ve tried it, valuing experiences over things can sound like a load of new-age waffle.

What do other people think?

I’m not alone in my thinking. Some of my traveling friends have found the same thing:

Stefania from EverySteph.com found she couldn’t even remember owning some of the clothes in her wardrobe after some time away. “When I returned home after a 5-month trip I realized I had so many clothes that I didn’t ever remember! I had made it for 5 months with the same clothing, so it was time to give things to charity! ”

Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders found her view of her home changed drastically after a vacation. “Our vacation rental was light, spacious and so clean and tidy. When I came back to our home, it seemed so dark, cluttered and cramped! It was so depressing! I decided drastic action was needed and threw out so much stuff we didn’t need.”

Mary-Jane from iMajNEarth says “Every time I get home from a trip away I see my home in a new light. I’m ready to clean out and move on things I no longer use, that no longer inspire me, and just take up space. It’s amazing how powerful a vacation can be in liberating you from the clutter in your life (thoughts and things) that drains your wellbeing”.

Karen from Smart Steps to Australia had a similar experience to me. “We came back from a seven-month round-the-world backpacking trip and realised we hadn’t missed our things at all. We’d stacked a lot of our belongings in the loft while we travelled. When it came to taking everything down, it felt exhausting. We had too much stuff!

We also returned from our trip expecting a baby (which we later learned was twins). As we unpacked our things, we found it much easier to get rid of junk as we no longer felt attached to it and we also needed the space for lots of baby things for the next phase of our lives”.

As you can see, I’m not alone here. There’s something about getting away from it all that gives you a new perspective.

I cannot tell you how many times my husband and I were curled up on the couch of an Airbnb watching Netflix on the laptop whilst our babies slept and I thought to myself ‘this is all I need’. Right here. My people. My laptop. Some clothes and a book for reading when I go to bed.

Give it a try, you might just come home with a fresh set of eyes, ready to take on the mass of decluttering that awaits you. You could become slightly more ruthless, less emotional.

And if that doesn’t work for you (but I really think it will), did I ever tell you that decluttering and selling our stuff helped pay for many months of travel when we first started out? Well, it did. Do I miss the items we got rid of? No. Did I create awesome memories with my family? Yes, I did. Was it worth it? Without a doubt, yes!

Tip: Decluttering or downsizing your home at the moment? Or just thinking about it for the future? Great! Check out my Facebook page, Little House Lovely Home, for inspiration and tips on organizing, decluttering and living well in small spaces.

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About Emma

Hi, I'm Emma. I love to share organization tips, space-saving ideas and practical advice for living small with kids. Click here to read how our family downsized our lives.

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