Before diving into four post-decluttering challenges that can come our way, let’s stop for a moment and celebrate. You did it! You decluttered your home, your wardrobe, and maybe also your digital spaces. I went through that process some years ago, and I know how challenging it can be.
Decluttering isn’t only about letting go of excess stuff. It’s also about parting with old beliefs, values, and habits. The thing is, to retain our spaces in their revived and tidy state, we have to replace them with a fresh mindset. With the ‘deep purge’, the hard work is done. Now it’s time to get some post-decluttering challenges out of the way and enjoy our decluttered life.
What Happens After Decluttering?
You probably know that I warmly recommend the KonMari Method for decluttering. I especially love Marie Kondo’s approach to tidy-up per category (and not per room). And I indeed agree with her advice to do it all in one go (decluttering event or ‘deep purge’).
If you’re not familiar with the KonMari Method yet, this post is for you:
However, I felt a bit lost AFTER I had decluttered. Marie Kondo claims that if you apply her method correctly, you’ll be happy with what you own and never experience a rebound (i.e., clutter accumulating again). And this because you’ve learned what you truly need and love during the deep purge.
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t able to achieve this ‘happily ever after’ state right away. I had to face some post-decluttering challenges and change my mindset before finding my personal version of ‘enough’.
And here are the four post-decluttering challenges that came my way – plus a few learnings and recommendations.
Challenge No. 1: The Yo-Yo Effect of Too Little
I’m sure many of us have experienced this trying to lose weight. We shed a few pounds but instantly put them back on, plus a couple more. The reason is, after a (restrictive and unhealthy) diet, our body feels deprived and wants to refuel – resulting in the so-called yo-yo effect.
A very similar effect can happen when we go a little overboard with decluttering. I experienced this effect with clothes. After my deep purge – before I found my (luxurious and joyful) version of enough – I suddenly felt I own too little. And I started to buy new clothes. It took me a while until I realized that I didn’t buy new things because I loved or needed them. I bought them because I felt scarcity. And believe me, scarcity is not a good starting point for making quality decisions. So be prepared that this kind of yo-yo effect can happen until you find the right balance. My advice, give yourself a little time to adjust and be aware of your shopping habits.
Challenge No. 2: Finding a New Definition of Full
After a deep purge, you may end up with half-filled or empty shelves and drawers. Or there’s even a whole cupboard or closet you no longer need for storage. Naturally, the amount of unused space depends on how much room you have in total and how much you decluttered. But no matter what your situation is, empty storage space can make you feel somewhat uncomfortable. From my experience, this is particularly true for specialized furniture and storage units, such as bookshelves, shoe or media racks, make-up or jewelry cases, or anything similar. In the beginning, those empty spaces can urge us to be filled again.
I believe it takes a bit of time to find a new definition of ‘full’ and get accustomed to your individual version of enough. Once you’ve adapted to your new lifestyle, make a decision. Either enjoy having extra space or downsize and reduce obsolete storage units.
Challenge No. 3: Adjusting to a New Lifestyle
I decluttered my home a la Marie Kondo some years ago. During this deep purge, I surely discarded many, many things. However, the major part of my decluttering journey actually happened AFTER this initial event.
Thoroughly tidying up my home, including my wardrobe and digital spaces, certainly paved the way for a new lifestyle. However, I had to grow into a new way of living, continuously adjusting my values and habits. During that time, the real decluttering journey began. Because based on my new set of values, I became really aware of what I want and what I no longer need. In other words, the learning process was initiated during the big purge but continued over an extended period.
During that time, I stuck to a simple routine that helped me reflect daily on my new values and habits. You could call this routine ‘one a day’, which means I committed to letting go of at least one thing every single day.
Challenge No. 4: Continue Being Selective
The easiest way to retain our space in a revived and clutter-free state is to stop clutter – and everything else that doesn’t align with our new values – from entering our home. This entails changing our shopping behavior and being very selective about what we invite into our lives. The easiest way to achieve this is to plan ahead and keep smart wishlists.
A decluttered lifestyle requires hardworking, go-to items that are well-made. Just think of wardrobe staples, for instance. A smart shopping list for such items helps you focus your attention and resources on exactly these items. See, just as an example, what I wrote about creating and maintaining a wardrobe wishlist:
Creating a wishlist doesn’t only work for things you can buy. But also for everything you choose to do. Being selective about what you allow to enter your wardrobe, your home, and your life simply needs a bit of thinking and planning upfront.
And there you have it. These are four post-decluttering challenges that can come our way. Plus my recommendations on how to deal with them.
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Let me know if you experienced similar post-decluttering challenges and share your learnings! I’d love to hear from you!