Many people struggle to start decluttering and organizing their homes, but have you ever considered why? In today’s post, we’ll tackle this issue and defeat everything that is holding you back from decluttering. Let’s look at the curse of perfectionism and clutter. How do you really declutter? Is it unclutter or declutter? What’s holding you back?


If you are new to the blog, welcome! I blog about cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. You can find more free printables to help you get organized in the drop down menu under the Printables category. 

How is it possible that you may be a messy perfectionist? Check out the tips below to see where your clutter problems may originate.

How does perfectionism keep you from taking action?

Perfectionism can be a double-edged sword, as it often prevents individuals from taking action in several ways:

  1. Fear of Failure: Perfectionists tend to set extremely high standards for themselves. The fear of not meeting these standards or making mistakes can be paralyzing. This fear of failure can prevent them from taking any action at all, as they may worry about not being able to achieve perfection.
  2. Procrastination: Perfectionists may delay starting a task because they want everything to be perfect from the beginning. This procrastination can lead to missed opportunities or unfinished projects, as they wait for the “perfect” conditions or information.
  3. Overwhelm: Perfectionists often see tasks as all-or-nothing scenarios, making it overwhelming for them to start. Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps may seem counterintuitive to the perfectionist mindset, leading to a lack of action.
  4. Excessive Planning: Perfectionists may spend an excessive amount of time planning and preparing, trying to account for every possible detail before taking action. This overemphasis on planning can delay the actual execution of the task.
  5. Self-Criticism: Perfectionists are often highly self-critical, and this inner voice can discourage them from taking action. The fear of not living up to their own standards can lead to a cycle of self-doubt, hindering their ability to initiate tasks.
  6. Difficulty Making Decisions: Perfectionists may struggle with decision-making because they fear making the wrong choice. This indecisiveness can prevent them from moving forward, as they get stuck in a loop of analyzing options without taking decisive action.
  7. Comparison with Others: Perfectionists may constantly compare themselves to others and feel that they need to measure up to an unrealistic standard set by external factors. This comparison can create a sense of inadequacy and impede them from taking action.

To overcome the negative impact of perfectionism, it’s essential to recognize and challenge these thought patterns, set more realistic goals, embrace imperfection, and develop a healthier perspective on success and failure. Seeking support from others or professional help, such as therapy, can also be beneficial in addressing perfectionism.

The Curse Of Perfectionism And Clutter

When we look at a space in our homes, we often visualize it as a large decluttering project. It seems overwhelming, too large a task, too time consuming, etc. We know it needs to be done, but we put it off…again.  

Consider what actually keeps us from simply starting. What is holding us back? I believe the answer to that question is what I’ll term the “curse of perfectionism.” 


You might say, “I’m NOT a perfectionist. Look at this mess.” But consider this. We ALL have perfectionist tendencies in how we approach our life, our work, our home, and our relationships. For example, have you ever thought or said these phrases or something similar?

1. I can’t declutter because I have a messy spouse/kids/roommate and they will just mess it up again. So why even start?

The Curse Of Perfectionism And Clutter

2.Or…I can’t declutter because I’m so busy with work or raising little ones.

3.Or…I can’t declutter because I’m so exhausted from the day’s tasks and responsibilities. I can’t add another thing to my schedule.

4. Or…I can’t declutter because the task is so large it would take hours, weeks, or months to complete.


As a recovering perfectionist, I have said all of these things on many occasions, but what I’ve found to be true is this. IF YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING, YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO JUST START. You can’t wait on the planets to align!

You don’t have to complete it all in a day or a weekend. You just simply take one step forward. That one step leads to the next step which will lead to completion at some point. But that FIRST STEP is THE most important. 

I took a video course some years back on productivity and what blocks it. The take-away lesson for that course was to create specific steps to complete big projects. It looks something like this. For example, let’s say you want to paint a room. You would break it down like this.

Project: Paint bedroom


1.Pick out paint color and buy it

2.Buy paint supplies

3.Prepare room by moving and covering furniture

The Curse Of Perfectionism And Clutter

4.Tape trim work and baseboards


6.Clean up

7.Put furniture back in place


So, you see how we took one big, overwhelming project (like decluttering all of the kitchen cabinets) and broke it down into action steps. Before doing that, you might look at that project as being too large, too time-consuming, too exhausting to complete.

Therefore, it never gets done. It gets stored in the back of your mind and it nags at you. It becomes a constant reminder every time you enter that space in your home. It zaps your joy. That is de-motivating.

But, by writing it down and breaking it down into steps that make sense, you can work a pace that moves you toward completion. It shows you that even if you can’t get it done in one day, you are taking one step a day toward completion. 


Now, we’ve answered the cause of our delay in starting…Perfectionism. Next, let’s look at the WHY of decluttering. Have you considered how clutter and disorganization affects you and others?

1.Clutter robs your joy, energy, and creativity.

2.Clutter costs you money. You buy things again because you can’t find them.

3.Clutter costs you time. You may run late because you misplace something important and need to find it before you leave.

4.Clutter can cause disputes with those you live with.

5.Clutter breeds other clutter. Most people pile stuff and drop off items daily in the same spots throughout their home. It could be the kitchen counter, the dining room table, the desk, the bedside table, etc. Then the clutter breeds and grows until it is dealt with. This creates chaos and robs your peace.

The Curse Of Perfectionism And Clutter

Struggling with the daily housekeeping chores and wondering: What Housework Should Be Done Daily? Grab my free ebook to walk you through the process. What Does a Deep Clean Include? One of my best Deep Cleaning Home Tips is to use a House Cleaning Planner. Check out my ebook on this topic, entitled Make Over Your Homemaking. Use this link to get it at a discounted price. Better yet… get it FREE when you subscribe to my site. Also, you can find my room by room Decluttering Your Home Checklist at the end of this post.

Maybe your house is clean but cluttered. If so, you need to know a few Declutter Tips and Ideas before you start using the Step By Step Decluttering plan I use. Does a Cluttered House Cause Stress? You Bet! Let’s look at a reputable, mental health site to answer that question and see exactly How Clutter Affects You. Then you can learn Why and How To Start to Purge Your House.They have given us 8 ways mess leads to stress and exactly How Clutter Affects You. According to Psychology Today:

 perfectionism and Clutter

How Clutter Affects You: Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Can a Messy House Affect Your Mood? You bet! How Does Clutter Affect Your Life? Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives. (source) But, unnecessary stress is one aspect of How Clutter Affects You.

How Clutter Affects You Mentally can help provide the motivation you need to know How To Start To Purge Your House. Why does mess lead to so much stress? (source)Getting rid of all of that stress can be one of the best declutter motivation tips you need for some instant Decluttering Inspiration.

  1. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important. (source)
  2. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. (source)
  3. Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.(source)
  4. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.(source)
  5. Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile. (source)
  6. Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces. (source)
  7. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.(source)
  8. Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter). (source) So, experiencing constant frustration is another aspect to How Clutter Affects You.

Overwhelmed by a Messy House? It can really affect you negatively. How Do You Deal With a Cluttered Mess? One way is to have a plan, set aside a specific time, and learn the Step By Step Decluttering plan I use for helping others learn How To Start To Purge Your House. What Cleaning Should Be Done Daily? I have a room by room specific Printable House Cleaning Checklist linked above. Also, you can find my room by room Decluttering Your Home Checklist at the end of this post.

How I Get Help With Decluttering My House: For a clean, simplistic look, one of the best Deep Cleaning Home Tips is to declutter a room before cleaning and then use an Easy House Cleaning Schedule to maintain it. Declutter Checklists can help you learn How to Declutter a House.

How Does Clutter Affect Your Life? As you can already see, there are at least 8 ways we become negatively affected by clutter. Also, I though it might be thought provoking to look at some statistics on clutter to learn more about How Clutter Affects You.

  1. US consumers buy 40% of the world’s toys, but bear only 3% of the world’s children.
  2. Most people wear 20% of their clothing 80% of the time. (source )
  3. 9.4% of U.S. households rent a storage unit. (source)
  4. People do not look at 80% of the papers and information they keep.(source)
  5. The average American house is double the size it was in the 1950s–and getting bigger. (source.)

Today, we’ll lay out the solutions to get you some Help for Cluttered Homes using my tips on Why and How to Declutter a House. Plus, we’ll look at a few ways to answer the concern of How Clutter Affects You and what you can do about it.

Adding extra stress is one of the main problems of How Clutter Affects You. So, let’s make a plan to rid ourselves of clutter and start cleaning it up. What Cleaning Should Be Done Daily? A Printable House Cleaning Checklist will help you keep your home clean and maintained. I’ll even give you my Deep Clean Checklist and Declutter Tips and Ideas to help you get started.

Learn why you should declutter AND How To Start to Purge Your House using my Decluttering Your Home Checklist. Let’s look at a few other ways for How Clutter Affects You:(source)

How Clutter Affects You: It can also make us less productive, triggering coping and avoidance strategies that make us more likely to snack on junk and watch TV shows (including ones about other people decluttering their lives).(source)

My own research shows our physical environments significantly influence our cognition, emotions and subsequent behaviours, including our relationships with others.(source)

Why clutter is bad for your brain(source)
Bursting cupboards and piles of paper stacked around the house may seem harmless enough. But research shows disorganisation and clutter have a cumulative effect on our brains.

How Clutter Affects You Mentally: Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus.(source)

The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can reduce our working memory.(source)

In 2011, neuroscience researchers using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and other physiological measurements found clearing clutter from the home and work environment resulted in a better ability to focus and process information, as well as increased productivity.(source)

Now that we’ve established the WHY of decluttering, let’s look at the WHAT. Specifically, let’s decide WHAT you hope to accomplish. 

Whenever I am looking at a room in my home, I always ask these questions first. If you are like me, it may help to write it down. 

1.What’s working?

2.What isn’t working?

3.What do I desire in this space?

4.How can I make this space more efficient?

5.What would my dream space look like in this room?

Think carefully through these questions and decide how you’d like to change your space. Think of spaces that are similar to yours and think of what you LOVE about those spaces. Look on Pinterest for inspiration and think of how you can incorporate that inspiration into your home. The questions above help you create a VISION PLAN.

Next, we are creating our ACTION PLAN. This is the HOW to achieve the WHAT of your Vision plan. For a kitchen, it may look something like this…

1.Create better storage for water bottles

2.Create better storage for reusable containers and lids

3.Create better storage for pots, pans, and lids

You get the point. You have decided on WHAT needs to be done in your Vision Plan, and now you write out HOW you plan to implement your desires. This is very important, so don’t skip over that step.

Without a written, visual plan, this Vision is simply a mental project you have started. If you don’t write it down, it will very likely NEVER get accomplished. By writing it down, you have moved it from being accomplished SOMEDAY to  ACTUALLY being accomplished. 

Finally, you should decide how much time and when you plan to carry out each step. Can you only devote 30 minutes a day? If so, DO that, and Don’t feel guilty! You work at a pace that suits your lifestyle.

You can actually accomplish quite a bit in only a half hour a day. You just keep following your steps and don’t get distracted or side-tracked. Maybe you have extra help you can use by recruiting family members to help. Whatever your schedule allows, just start!

Stop letting perfection hold you back! Someday is now. You CAN do this. You and everyone in your home will benefit from your efforts. You will feel a sense of pride in what you accomplish. So, go grab and pen and paper and get started today!


Supplies Needed:

1. boxes -preferably ones you can donate (Avoid plastic storage bins because you may be tempted to just store the items and not part with them.)

2. sturdy trash bags

3. marker/pen to label boxes

Decluttering Tip: Avoid using storage bins to declutter. Storage bins tend to tell your brain to “store” the items for later. That is just delaying decisions. If you aren’t getting rid of items when you declutter, you are not truly decluttering. This is why I recommend a trash bag, also. A trash bag tells your brain to “trash” the item.

Obviously, recycle if you have that option. The boxes you use should be ones you are willing to part with, so I recommend sturdy cardboard boxes. As to donations, there are many charities that will come pick up your items for you at your home.

I use one in particular where you can book an appointment for pick-up online. This is so convenient, as it saves you the hassle of hauling stuff away yourself. Scheduling that pick-up also motivates you to declutter by a certain date.

How to Declutter:

1. Start by eliminating trash first- use a sturdy trash bag

2. Sort items by category if needed so you can see what you have

3.Get rid of duplicate items, broken items, outgrown clothes and shoes, anything you’ll never use again

4. Box up the donations and trash/recycle the rest

5.Select a charity to donate your items and schedule the pick-up if that is an option

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my site by leaving me a comment below. I’ve created a free year long declutter plan to help you become more organized.

Need to deep clean? I have lists for you to guide you along.

My How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen list can be found here.

My How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom list can be found here.

My How to Deep Clean Your Kids’ Rooms list can be found here.

My How to Deep Clean Your Living Room list can be found here.

My How to Deep Clean Your Bedroom list can be found here.

Also, to keep up the general housework, you may need to create a daily housekeeping schedule that suits your specific needs. To do so, I have created a helpful series you can read here.

Need to Declutter Every room? I have declutter checklists for every room and every space in your home to guide you along below. Is it unclutter or declutter? It doesn’t really matter. Let’s just start with a few simple checklists.

How to Declutter the Guest Room or Your Kid’s Room checklist can be found here.

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How to Declutter Your Laundry Room and Patio checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Coat Closet/Hall Closet/Linen Closet checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Home Office checklist can be found here.

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How to Declutter Your Attic checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Garage checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Living Room checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Kitchen Checklist can be found here.

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How to Declutter Your Entry/Foyer/Mudroom checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Clothing checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Bedroom checklist can be found here.

How to Declutter Your Bathroom checklist can be found here.

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Happy Decluttering!

To Subscribe to this Declutter Series, drop me a comment below. Your email will be sent to me but will not be posted publicly. You’ll receive a daily declutter task via email for the daily task we are working on. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Happy Decluttering!

To Subscribe to my Year Long Thorough Declutter Series, drop me a comment below. Your email will be sent to me but will not be posted publicly. You’ll receive a daily declutter task via email for the daily task we are working on. You can unsubscribe at any time.

We declutter 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The Year Long Thorough Declutter Series is designed to help you declutter every room and every closet in your home. When you subscribe you’ll receive a daily task in the room or area we are currently working on decluttering. To Subscribe, leave a comment below.

New to deemiddleton.com and don’t know where to start? I recommend going in this order:

Step 1: Check out this post on the 1st step you should take to get organized.

Step 2: Create a daily Housekeeping Schedule. You can use this series to start to set up your own schedule. You can also use this simplified weekly schedule.If you often ask: What is the fastest way to clean a dirty house? Or, if you struggle to get organized and have tried and failed time and again, you can likely find out which of these 11 reasons cause you to fail to get organized.

Step 3:   How do you remove clutter?.…Sign up for the Declutter Series and get your entire home decluttered in just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.”Declutter Your Home” checklists are provided in each email.

Step 4: What is the fastest way to clean a dirty house? Use a timer and use the Deep Cleaning Checklists above. They will help you get your home sparkling after you’ve decluttered. 

Interested in becoming a full-time blogger like me? Check out my blogging series. At the top of every page on my blog, you’ll find a drop down menu. Just select the BLOGGING category.

Check out the most popular posts on deemiddleton.com: 

14 Things That Make Your Home Look Cluttered

How to Do A 1 Day Declutter

How to Create a Daily Housekeeping Schedule

How to Clean House When You Are Completely Overwhelmed By Clutter

What is Preventing You From Getting Organized?

Also, check out a great post on decluttering over here from becomingminimalist.com. Joshua Becker has some great tips on decluttering and minimalism.

For further reading, check out the fly lady here. She has some great cleaning and decluttering ideas plus excellent organization tips to get you started.