How To Say Good-Bye To Decision Paralysis

How To Say Good-Bye To Decision Paralysis

Finally! You’ve psyched yourself into decluttering your bedroom. You’ve gathered trash bags, boxes, and bins. You step into your bedroom and . . . GULP. So many overwhelming questions flood your brain. Where do you start? Maybe the closet? Maybe the dresser? Maybe the nightstand?

Nervously, you choose to start with the dresser. Do you start with a drawer or the dresser top? After thinking for a few minutes, you choose a drawer and are ready to begin decluttering. You eagerly open the drawer and . . . oh no, what to do with all the stuff? It’s overwhelming, your brain shuts down . . . decision paralysis strikes!

Let’s look at three of the most common reasons decision paralysis shuts you down and strategies to overcome this.

Dresser with 2 drawers overflowing with clothes

Attachment to Possessions

Whether it’s sentimental items given to you by a loved one or belongings tied to memories of significant life events, letting go feels like you’re cutting off a part of yourself. This emotional weight makes it challenging to decide what to keep and what to discard leading to procrastination and avoidance.


Re-frame how you think about your possessions. Rather than defining yourself by your belongings, focus on the experiences and memories they represent. Be grateful for the role these items played in your life, but remember they aren’t your memory, they’re just things. Your memories are in your head and heart and you still have them without the things. Set specific criteria BEFORE beginning regarding what you plan to keep. This helps prevent emotions taking over. Base your criteria on an item’s usefulness, practicality, and joy.

Helpful guidelines

~ If everything’s special, then nothing’s special. Keep only the best of the best.

~ You don’t have to keep everything related to an event. It’s OK to keep just a few related mementos.

~ Museums don’t have room to keep everything so they curate. They keep only representative pieces to tell a story. Be like a museum.

~ Take a picture of special items you’re releasing. Keep pictures in a ‘Memories’ folder on your phone or have them put in a photo book such as Shutterfly.

Fear of Making Mistakes

You worry that you’ll regret discarding something useful or sentimental, leading to feelings of guilt or loss. Fear of making mistakes paralyzes you, causing you to cling to items “just in case” or to avoid decluttering altogether.

Simple, clutter-free white dresser with 3 simple vases on it.


You probably WILL make decisions you later reconsider. But, the reality is that if you discard 100 items, you’ll only re-visit one or two decisions. 98 items will have left your home and given you more space and less overwhelm. That’s a pretty good trade-off! And the items you wonder whether you should have discarded? They aren’t life and death (you’re still here, aren’t you?) and often are easily replaceable or you can fill the need another way.

Helpful guidelines

~ Follow the 20/20 rule – if you can replace something within 20 minutes for less than $20, it’s safe to let it go.

~ Start with less emotionally charged items to build confidence before tackling more sentimental items.

~ Remember, you’re human—you get to make mistakes! You’re not bad!!

Overwhelm from Decision Fatigue

You get tired and struggle making so many choices while sorting through years of accumulated belongings and deciding what to do with them. It’s easy to give up before you begin.


Break decluttering into small, manageable tasks to avoid overwhelm. Set specific goals for each decluttering session such as decluttering a single room, a particular category of items, or just a drawer or shelf.

Helpful guidelines

~ Keep decluttering sessions short. You’ll get more done in the long run when you declutter 20-30 minutes per day for 4 or 5 days per week than looking for big blocks of time. And you’ll be far less tired!

~ Declutter with a friend (or Unjumbled!) Working with someone helps take away the burden of making so many decisions on your own.

~ Game-ify decluttering. Everything is more fun when you make it into a game and decluttering is no exception. Click here to play Spin The Wheel–a decluttering game I’ve created for you. Share it with a friend!

Spin the Wheel Game where the needle lands on various decluttering tasks

Decision paralysis isn’t insurmountable and overcoming it is worth the effort. Decluttering isn’t just about tidying up physical spaces, but also about clearing mental clutter and making room for a more intentional and fulfilling life. SO worth it!

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