4 Excuses for Keeping Clutter & What to do About It

Can we pause for one minute and have a little heart to heart? We all have excuses. Excuses that keep clutter in our lives. I don’t know for sure why we do this. I suspect some past, primal instinct tells us we need “stuff” for our well-being and survival, or that more stuff means luxury.

Whatever the reason, there are a few common excuses that pop up and interrupt our best intentions to clear the clutter and make space for living. The excuses were practically screaming at me during a recent closet clean out.

I came across a handful of infrequently used items. Most had been passed over in previous closet purging sessions. Maybe it is our lack of closet doors, but during this purge, I was feeling particularly ruthless and ready to tackle even the most convincing excuse.

As I waded through the closet, I made quick decisions about items that needed to go. But by the end, these items were banded together at the bottom of the “get rid of” pile.

Why had I been holding on to these items for years? And more importantly why was I still struggling to let them go now?  Excuses are powerful, that’s why. Tackle them with me, won’t you?

Our excuses for clutter


Excuse #1: I am going to do that (project) soon…

You know what I am talking about. The project, whether it is represented by an item or paper, has been sitting there for months years.

Mine is a beloved white sweater with a stubborn stain that has been sitting there for 4 years! Yes, I said it 4 years. I have tried a handful of stain busting remedies, but all to no avail. Maybe I was waiting for new technology to develop in the stain removal department.


Time to be honest with yourself.

  • Are you really going to do it?
  • Is it even worth your time now?

For me, it was time to admit that the stubborn stain hindering me from wearing my white sweater was just not going to budge. I am not going to attempt any more stain removal rituals. And the stain prevents it from being donate-able. The sweater has been taking up enough space in my closet and on my mental to-do list. In the trash it goes.

If you decide you are going to finally tackle that project, it is time to set a deadline. Make room for it on your calendar. Label that item with a deadline written on a post-it if you have to. If it is really that important to you, you will make time for it. If not, then it is time to give yourself permission to let it go.


Excuse #2: I don’t wear (use) that because…

it’s too tight, scratchy, not flattering… whatever the reason, it just doesn’t work. You put it on every now and then only to remember why you don’t wear it.

If we are not taking about clothes, then you find yourself always looking for the better one. “Where are the better scissors, better pillow, better pen…etc.? Why don’t we trash the unloved item right away? Is it because we spent good money on it? We feel guilty for being so wasteful or picky? We think that next time we put it on or use it will be different?

For me, I don’t want to admit I am actually that lazy. The blue skirt pictured above was enjoyed once, maybe twice, until I washed it. Now it needs to be ironed. Every time I go to grab it I think, “Oh, that needs to be ironed.” Then I move on to pick a new outfit.

Am I really that lazy that I have avoided ironing a skirt for 3 years? Why yes, yes I am. Even though I generally avoid buying clothes that need to be ironed, this skirt slipped by. Hello, my name is Autumn and I suffer from extreme laziness (which is really the underlying cause of my organization and efficiency enthusiasm- if I had to look too hard to find an item, I’d probably just decide it wasn’t that important anyway).


This excuse is also disgusted as “but this is a perfectly good_____.” Insert items name. Why is it so easy to say “surround yourself with only items you love”, but so hard to put into practice?

Now I am not saying throw away all the stuff you have and go out and buy the best on the market. That totally goes against my frugal nature. But if you have duplicates of an item or you just don’t use it, let’s say goodbye and give it a better home.

If you find yourself always bypassing a pair of scissors/set of sheets/pair of jeans etc… in search of the “good pair”, budget to grab an extra of your favorite brand during a future shopping trip and say goodbye to the item you don’t love.

It might sound simple enough, but it is truly time to be honest and pass this skirt on to someone who actually will love it enough to iron it. And that means in my closet, I need it to stop taking up space. 3 years is long enough for this wrinkled fabric to highlight my laziness.

**Also falling under this category, yet not pictured, is a shirt that shrunk in the wash and another unflattering shirt that has to go no matter what price I got it for.

Excuse #3: But I love this…

There are some things that are so well-loved, we just can’t seem to part with them, even though their better days are done. My old tennis shoes fall under that category. These little beauties have been in my life longer then my man. As much as I would love to keep wearing them, it is indeed time to say good-bye.


Create a box for special items that hold meaning (Mine is under my bed). But don’t confuse every item you love with a keepsake item to be treasured. No one wants to pull out my ratty shoes and remember the good times they had. Sometimes a pictures really is worth a thousand words. These shoes have been quite well documented in almost every photo I have from college. I can safely let these go and trust that they had a good “run”.

If your keepsakes are taking over, cull them down to really and truly treasured items. Most importantly find a home for these items, so you can keep them clean, safe and accessible for when you do want a trip down memory lane.

Items you want to look at regularly could be framed or placed on a shelf. Okay, can you imagine if I framed these shoes? Maybe I might have to try that just for the look on my hubby’s face. No, no more excuses– time to let these go!

Excuse #4: I might need this…

My framed raspberry picture, just like my shoes, has also been with me since college. I would stalk the art at Ikea to fill up the blank walls of my first apartment. This print was cheap and I liked the color. Sold. But it has long since lived out its purpose. Now, I keep thinking, “What if I need this glass frame or a print of raspberries?” You never know right?


I am an advocate for keeping things you are really going to use, but don’t try to fool me or yourself.

Remember at the beginning, I said we are having a heart to heart. It is kicking into high gear now! Are you really going to use this again?

If you really believe you are, great, make a home for it. Relegate “to use” items to that one spot. Set a “use by date” if you must. I have a spot for empty containers that I believe I might use when organizing. But the containers don’t hang out there indefinitely.

If something has been hanging out there too long without being used, it is time to let go. Good-bye raspberries.

**Also falling under this category and not pictured above (but seen on instagram @space4living) is my giant pea coat from ’97 which I haven’t worn since I lived in a place with real weather and since a 2001 trip to NYC. Move along pea coat and may you find greener pastures in your next life.


4 Excuses for keeping clutter & what to do about it


Whether these excuses are made in the closet, in the kitchen or with our kids toys; it is time to be honest with ourselves and say good-bye to the un-used, stagnant clutter.

Did I miss an excuse? What is one excuse you notice yourself repeating? Are you going to donate that ill-fitting shirt now? You can do it!

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  1. Hello, my name is Amy and I suffer from extreme laziness. So nice to find a kindred soul!
    Amy @ Permanent Kisses recently posted..Crafty Share Tuesday: Fabric HamperMy Profile

  2. Nancy Reed says:

    Oh, boy! My name is Nancy and I’ve been dying to buy an authentic, real pea coat for years! Wanted one as a teen-ager (but we were a poor family, and one never showed up at thrift sales). And have never had one since, no matter what………. but I’m about to be 77 and I still want one! I’m a size 3-4X, which makes it ever more difficult to find. Please tell me what all I can trade you for it, if it’s big enough! Great-grandchildren? Money? Summer tops? Books? Yarn? Please??

    😀 in northern Minnesota

    • Sorry Nancy, it has already been donated. I had it on craigslist but nobody seemed interested in sunny San Diego. Good luck in your search!

  3. Oh dear me, I was thinking along the same lines as you this a.m. Too much stuff piled in one part of our bedroom. Clothes I put out to get rid of needs to go away this week. I am glad I kept a few of them since there were sox in there I decided to keep. But the rest has got to go. Including a sweater I’ve not worn for years but still like it. The big sack of Analog magazines my husband needs no longer sit there as well. Pull off address labels. Take to free table at library. Or thrift store. Get to the mess NOW I tell myself. A bit of clean up each day. Thanks for your inspiration!
    Becky L recently posted..Praying for KrissyMy Profile


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