Clutter Clearing Myth Buster – It’s Just the Backlog Clutter


We’ve all told ourselves this a thousand times because we’re not ready to accept that we’re not going to clear our clutter forever quickly or easily.

When you find yourself thinking this ask yourself: When you’ve had blitz’s in the past and cleared some space – a surface, a path through a room, a whole room – how long were you able to keep it clear?

Which proves this myth is just a myth.

You see it on the TV programmes too. The impression is given that all the clutterholic or hoarder needs to do is ‘get rid’ of the excess clutter, have a makeover and then carry on their merry way because of course they’re going to love having all that space, being able to see the floor and not piles of clutter, and they’ll be so inspired and motivated, why wouldn’t they be able to keep it clear forever after?

However, just notice how many follow up programmes you see about the people who feature on those TV programmes. That tells you all you need to know about their ability to keep their homes clutter free once they’ve had ‘help’ to clear the backlog.

It’s why I’ve had hundreds of clients and members over the years who have been on those TV shows or paid  for  an  organisational expert to  travel  to  their home and help them clear the backlog – and then discovered they either have to call that expert back a couple of times a year forever, or gone searching for different help because it hasn’t worked.

It’s no wonder that, even if we do manage to clear some – or all – of the backlog and it’s grown back, we struggle to believe it’s even possible to clear it and stay clutter free forever.

Here are 3 reasons why this myth is a myth.

1. Accumulation Denial

The number 1 mistake everyone makes when they try to declutter is they concentrate on ‘Getting Rid’ of things in their clutter. 9 time out of 10 they do that by deciding whether to keep or get rid of things.

While they concentrate on getting things off their Clutter Conveyor Belt, they completely ignore what’s coming on to their Clutter Conveyor Belt at the accumulation end. In fact, most people are in (unintentional) denial about how much new clutter they’re actually accumulating on a regular basis.

Just 1 impulse, BOGOF offer or unnecessary purchase a week is 52 extra things in your home each year. Just 1 piece of junk mail a day that doesn’t come off your conveyor belt is 312 pieces of extra paperwork clutter that we don’t need a year. 

Multiply that by how many years you’ve had your clutter challenge, and it might help explain why you have so much clutter.

Most Clutterholics and Hoarders are in accumulation denial. Whether it’s a free information leaflet, a BOGOF offer, a gift they’ve been given they don’t use, or seeing something they fancy and impulse buying it, we’re all accumulating more than we need.

Many people tell me ‘I saw it, I liked it, so I bought it’. You don’t have to buy something to prove you like it. Equally, to have seen it in the first place you have to have gone out shopping, gone online or turned on the TV shopping channel which means you were willing and able to afford to impulse buy. 

Other people tell me they only shop with a shopping list. I then ask them if they ONLY bought what was on their shopping list and a wry smile usually creeps across their face because they know they didn’t.

Been there, done that, been working with clutterholics and hoarders for over 20 years…..!

2. Habits

You have a habit of being in accumulation denial. You have a habit of putting things where there’s a space. You have a habit of living with piles of clutter. You have a habit of flitting, not focusing and finishing. You have a habit of procrastinating. You have a habit of not making time to declutter. You have a habit of giving up.

We have our clutter because of multiple habits, and we won’t clear it or stay clear for long if we don’t break those habits. Unfortunately, you can’t change a habit you don’t know you’ve got. Not only do you not (yet) know what clutter habits you have (unless you’ve completed Step 1 of your Journey), you also have to consciously do the OPPOSITE of that clutter habit – i.e. what you want to do instead – between 66 and 254 times to break your clutter habits. 

So although people think they ‘just’ need to clear the backlog of clutter and they’ll be able to keep it clear when that’s done, their habits go unchanged and the clutter soon grows back.

3. The Fear of the Void

You’ve been living with your piles of clutter for years. You’ve got used to them being there. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome with your clutter (the condition where people develop positive feelings toward their captors or abusers over time). 

We get used to finding things in our clutter. It becomes normal to navigate around piles of clutter. If we ever do manage to clear the backlog fast, suddenly all that familiarity and safety is lost.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too does a clutterholic.  Our brain and our habits seek to fill the void FAST to make our home safe and familiar again. 

On our 7 Step Journey we spend time focusing on what we’re going to fill that void with to avoid the fear of the void, and so our brain doesn’t panic and let the accumulation habits sabotage us AGAIN.
If you’re ready to accept that it’s not just the backlog of clutter that you need to deal with to clear your clutter forever, visit our online Help Centre here now:

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