Why is decluttering so hard and how can it be made easier???

I spent a good few hours sorting out and decluttering our stationery recently. That is ridiculous on so many levels but just sorting out stationery threw up lots of issues for me.

Why is it ridiculous?  Well mainly because first of all we don’t have that much of it and second of all why did I need to spend more than 5 seconds thinking about whether to keep something like a sharpener or not?

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I decided to sort out our box of stationery because it was overflowing and it was becoming difficult to get the box in and out of the cupboard and to find the things we need. I also hardly ever (if at all) used a lot of the things in it. My aim was to cut down the stationery in our home so that we only actually have the things we need, not the things we don’t use. I wanted to get rid of everything that didn’t fit that aim, but I didn’t want to throw anything in the bin.

The problems I faced were:

  1. Wondering if my kids will need some of it in a couple of years? I have kept stuff from my school days and having kept the things this long, isn’t it a bit silly to get rid of them now?
  2. Some of them were arts and crafty type things that may come in useful at some point, but I think I have used them once or twice at most.
  3. Some I didn’t want, but they weren’t in good condition e.g. a whole load of old rubbers/ erasers. How could I get rid of them without chucking them in the bin?
  4. Some looked great because they hadn’t been used, but they didn’t compare to older more sturdy less attractive versions e.g. some really old manky looking sharpeners which sharpened much better than the newer looking plastic ones.
  5. The opinions of other people. They weren’t there in the room with me, but I could almost hear a certain family member telling me to hold on to stuff I don’t use often in case I needed it and my husband wondering why on earth I was considering getting rid of both our staplers.
  6. What to do with the unwanted stuff?
After picking up a few items and thinking far too much about each one, I decided I was going about it the wrong way. I decided instead to make a pile of the things we need and use regularly now and then work out how to get rid of everything else.
This worked really well for me and I soon had a bag filled with stuff I didn’t want. I also decided to only put out one pen, one pencil etc in easy access rather than a whole load of them and only add to it if I needed to.That was great, but I then had to work out what to do with the bag of unwanted stuff. I had a chat with my husband about it as I didn’t want to get rid of stuff that he might use or need, but I also didn’t want to go through the stuff piece by piece (I just stopped myself from doing that and I had spent far too long on this already).

Between us we had two ideas:

  1. I asked him to tell me what he thought we needed in our stationery box and if he mentioned anything I had got rid of I would have put it back.
  2. He suggested that I put anything I think we might need in a box out of the way for a set time and then get rid of it if we haven’t used it by then.
In reality just having the conversation was useful as he confirmed that yes he does use the staplers (not for stapling bits of paper – he used them to fix my flip flops when the strap fell off and to provide a temporary fix for a hole in a bag) and he didn’t mention anything else I was planning to get rid of.
So the next job was to find a way to get rid of the stuff that needed to go without chucking it in the bin. I considered giving it all to my kids school, but was worried they would think I was dumping my rubbish on them (especially as I keep turning up with bags of stuff after school e.g. old uniform, toys, games, books and fabric). I consulted with a very helpful Facebook Group – Zero Waste Heroes over the rubbers and the discussion prompted a blog post on the Zero Waste Week blog about what to do with old rubbers (read more here).  The only suggestion that really worked for me though was to give them to the kids school. I decided there is no harm in offering and the school doesn’t have to take it if they don’t want it!
Although my stationery decluttering experience was fairly frustrating and took way too long, I learned from it and a few days later I managed to clear a whole load of stuff in my bedroom that had been piled up to sort through much quicker than I would have done because I didn’t sit and agonise over each thing. I also gave myself a time limit of dealing with it within 1 hour which helped. My decluttering adventures are no-where near over yet though and I’m sure I will be writing about them again soon!

Do you need help decluttering?

After years of learning how to declutter, tidy and organise my home, I am now offering my services as a professional declutter. Check out my website: Tidy with Zoe for more info.


  1. It depends on what mood I'm in, sometimes I get sentimental over very silly things and want to keep them but sometimes I just think, screw it and chuck loads out. Then there is the conundrum of trying to keep it out of the landfill!

    We've got loads of decluttering left to do, it seems like a never ending task which I guess means my goal of consuming less stuff isn't going as well as I want it to, although a lot is from years back still!

  2. Zoe

    It is satisfying. I seem to be in a never ending decluttering cycle though at the moment. I'm hoping at some point soon there won't be any areas left to declutter!

  3. Zoe

    I know what you mean about it seeming like a never ending task – I'm feeling like that at the moment. I also have the same about feeling more sentimental some days than others – maybe the trick is like never go food shopping on an empty stomach. Never declutter when feeling sentimental!

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