Unrealistic timeframes for decluttering
Picture of Virginia Wells

Virginia Wells

Unrealistic Timeframes for Decluttering: The Reason You Fail

Are your unrealistic timeframes for decluttering holding you back?

Have you tried decluttering and organising your home lots and gotten nowhere? I get told this a lot. One main contributor to this failure is the expectations we place on ourselves around the time it will take to declutter a space… and we set a timeframe aside to declutter, that doesn’t suit our abilities or capacity!

Decluttering Takes Longer than You Think

Decluttering successfully hinges on setting realistic timeframes. So, you might ask, how long will it take me to declutter? Well, longer than you think. If you were to hire a skip and fill it with everything you touch, without much thought, then the process might be quite quick. However, to assess everything in your home, will take a lot of time. If you’re 40 years old and have decided to start on the decluttering journey, then consider it took 40 years to accumulate this stuff. It is going to take more than a day to declutter 40 years of memories, things and feelings. It won’t take 40 years, but it will take time. Everyone is different, as we all have different attachments to our things, needs and so on. Take the time you need to work through it all, in a way that will create long term change.

Set a Realistic Timeframe for Each Session

The other time element I mentioned is setting a realistic timeframe for each time you intend to organise. I’ve heard so many times things like, “I’m going to declutter the garage this long weekend”. Then, once the weekend has passed, “I didn’t really achieve much, in fact, it seems worse than before. I don’t know why I bother!” Don’t let unrealistic timeframes for decluttering undermine your efforts.

These larger areas often come with a side of overwhelm. So setting a large chunk of time to focus on it (e.g. one day) and expecting to finish is unrealistic. Sometimes we don’t consider what else we need to achieve during that period of time too. Like the basics of feeding ourselves, or other chores and household activities and so on. My point is, we underestimate how long it will take to organise a space and often we overestimate how much time we can actually dedicate to declutter!

How do you choose a time limit to work within then?

If you’ve attempted decluttering in the past, reflect back on those times and consider how many minutes, or hours you were able to do before you became overwhelmed, over it, or your ‘eyes glazed over’ and you needed a cup of tea. You know, when you started shuffling the papers and were unable to make any more decisions. If it was half an hour before that happened, then your time frame is probably more like 15-20 minutes. You don’t want to push it until you’re overwhelmed. You want to stop whilst you still feel good. That will lead to you feeling capable about the future decluttering tasks.

Start with Five Minutes

If you have no idea what your limit is, then start with five minutes and build up from there. You might find five minutes to be easy. If it is, check in with yourself and see if you can do another five minutes. If you’re still doing really well and still energised, do another five. This way you’ll get a better sense of a realistic timeframe that will bring about positive results. Ideally, this is paired with my 60/40 time split where items are sorted for 60% of your allocated time, and then processed and dealt with (put away in their homes, or homes created for them) for the other 40% of the time.

Different Timeframes for Different Types of Items

The other thing to consider is that your ideal timeframe may differ for different items. Certain belongings can make you feel more overwhelmed than others. Some people hate paperwork so they can only do 10 minutes on paperwork, but can happily do one hour in the kitchen. It might be worthwhile considering this before you get stuck into your culling session.

What’s your ideal timeframe to declutter? Are you setting unrealistic timeframes for decluttering? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the WellSorted Facebook Group.

Share this post

Scroll to Top