15 Things to Declutter (That Aren’t Things)

Looking for a list of things to declutter? Here’s a different type of decluttering list to consider—one that might surprise you!

Lately, on my internet wanderings, I’ve been noticing that most conversations about minimalism are turning into lists of things you can declutter. (Goodbye blender, spare phone charger, and college textbooks!!)

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe decluttering your home is obviously a big part of a minimalist lifestyle—but I can’t help but feel that that part of the conversation is missing.

I believe minimalism is less about the number of things you own and more about intentional thinking. It’s about considering the purpose and value something (physical possessions, ideas, or even people) brings into your life and then being intentional about what you choose to keep.

When I first started to discover minimalism, I felt like this was talked about a lot. Still, as minimalism has become more mainstream (with the popularity of KonMari or blogs like this one) … I wonder if it’s losing part of its soul?

Or perhaps that’s just what the mainstream media is focusing on. Regardless, it can’t hurt to share a different kind of decluttering list—a list of things to declutter that aren’t things.

Instead of physical decluttering, I’m looking at ideas and mindsets that aren’t contributing to my life and could use letting go.

Decluttering your home is obviously a big part of embracing minimalism - but there is more to the conversation. In this list, I’m looking at ideas and mindsets that aren’t contributing to my life and could use letting go >> A list of things to declutter (that aren't 'things')

15 Things To Declutter (A Different Decluttering List)

Before jumping into the list, I wanted to make two quick points:

  • I’m still working on A LOT of the things on this list, and to be honest—I’m writing this for myself as much as my readers. Life is a work in progress!
  • Not everything on this list makes sense for everyone. Please don’t view this as an authoritative “master list” (or my attempt to write one). Instead, my intention is to inspire you to think outside the box with your minimalist lifestyle and to consider other aspects of your life that may require a bit of decluttering.

On that note, I’m sure there are a ton of things I’ve left off this list, so if you have any ideas you’d like to share please feel free to add them in the comments!

UNNECESSARY DEADLINES

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent stressed to near tears because I’ve had some project or chore that I really, really wanted to finish before going to sleep—even though there was absolutely no reason it couldn’t just be left to the next day.

Yet for some reason, I’d created a self-imposed deadline that was causing me ridiculous stress. If you’ve ever caught yourself in the same boat, join me in just letting go.

RELATED POST: 5 Ways To Be Kinder To Yourself

GOSSIP

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

We all know this one. It’s a lazy habit; let’s be intentional in breaking it.

A GOAL WEIGHT OR SIZE

Instead of focusing on an arbitrary number, chose to focus on feeling healthy and well. Healthy living is easier when it’s about feeling good instead of battling the scales.

MULTITASKING

Have you ever had that “I’ve been so busy working all day, but somehow I’ve done nothing” feeling?

Yep. Me too—and we can thank multitasking for creating lots of busyness minus productivity. The alternative?

Try slowing down, doing one thing at a time, and being mindful about the task at hand. (I’ve been trying time blocking lately, and it’s really been working for me.)

PERFECT

Is your inner perfectionist holding you back? Remember that ‘perfect’ isn’t real. It’s an illusion, and until you get comfortable with it, no amount of simplifying will ever be enough.

FEELING TRAPPED

Tough love time: stop believing you’re trapped. If you’re not happy with your life, acknowledge that you are in control.

You may not be able to change all the circumstances of your life, but in most cases, there are things you can do to change your situation. Sometimes it’s hard, but don’t be afraid to take small steps in a new direction.

GUILT ABOUT SELF CARE

If you feel guilty in any way about making time to take care of yourself, please stop and let it go. Practising self-care is important because it creates a strong foundation (YOU!!) for everything else you want to do in your life.

BLAMING OTHERS FOR YOUR MISTAKES

We know this, right? But boy is it hard to remember in the heat of the moment. I’m trying to learn the power of “pause”; to stop for a moment and think before I react, giving myself time to accept responsibility for my own actions.

WAITING TO BE HAPPY

Stop waiting for a new job, a new month, or a new boyfriend to make you happy. You aren’t waiting, you’re making excuses. Make the decision to start living and loving life today.

RELATED POST: 14 Ways to Stop Living for the Weekends

THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY

Busy does not equal better.

  • If you find yourself complaining (or boasting) about being busy, stop.
  • If you’re too busy to do what’s important to you, look at your priorities.
  • If you have downtime, enjoy it without feeling guilty.

ANY DEFINITION OF SUCCESS THAT DOES NOT SERVE YOU

Define your own version of success. Create your own standards and build a life that makes you feel good (and stop worrying about how it looks to everyone else).

RELATED POST: How Defining My Core Values Changed My Life

DEFLECTING COMPLIMENTS

Learn to accept compliments with grace, instead of responding with a self-deprecating joke. (Yes, you do look nice today, and no—it’s not the flattering lighting.)

OBSESSING OVER THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE

I know this isn’t easy (I’m still putting some serious work into this one) but I truly believe that one of the greatest things we can learn in life is how to let go of what we can’t change. (Goodbye: replaying things in our head, constant obsessing, and unnecessary stress.) If you’re not sure how to start with this, practice being present.

ANGER + GRUDGES

When you’re angry with someone, deal with the issue and then move on. If you’re struggling, ask yourself what’s more important—the issue or the relationship. (And if the answer is the issue, then perhaps you should move on from the relationship.)

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
– Unknown

SELF LIMITING BELIEFS

And finally, let go of any thoughts that begins with “I could never …”

For a long time, I believed I could never get out of debt, or end my first marriage, or start a blog that people actually read.

But guess what? I learned that I’m brave and capable of more than I thought and you are too. Say goodbye to any thoughts (or anyone) that tell you otherwise.

What ideas or mindsets could use ‘decluttering’ in your life? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to add to this list! x

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43 thoughts on “15 Things to Declutter (That Aren’t Things)”

  1. Jennifer – I recently discovered your blog posts via a link from another website and I must say that it feels wonderful to read the words of a like-minded person 🙂 I completely agree that there is more to declutter than the physical aspects of your home (which itself can feel very rewarding, and slightly addictive – haha).

    Recently, in a bid to help placate my anxiety and the nay-sayers in my head, I started to journal. Just emptying my head of all the words. It truly feels like a “decluttering” of my mind. I have found it to now be an essential part of my day as I have noticed that I am a happier, lighter person for it, able to address many of the items you list above because of it. I no longer WANT to be “busy”, I am making a concerted effort to single-task as much as possible, am focused on being more present in each and every moment and am slowly starting to turn off the constant replay of situations in my mind.

    Each time I approach a new day with intent, I am being exposed to so many more positive experiences and meeting so many amazing people. Decluttering my mind has empowered me to focus on the good and I am so grateful for the life I am starting to live.

    Thank you so much for your blog (and the emails I receive)…it is refreshing to have more positivity in every day! xx

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  2. I love this angle that “clutter” can be so much more than physical. Self-imposed deadlines and anxiety about things I can’t change (or which might never happen) are big ones for me.

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