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Are you guilty of Churning?

Clutter Churning

If you feel you're constantly working to try and take control of the clutter in your home - sorting, organising and tidying - but aren't seeing much progress, it could be that you're 'churning'.


If you haven't heard the term used when talking about clutter before;

Clutter 'churning' is when you spend time sorting and moving clutter from one place to another - without getting rid of unwanted items, or finding a proper home for the items that you wish to keep.

When you declutter, you reduce the number of possessions in your home by letting go of the items that you no longer love, use or need - and sometimes even some of the things that you do.

Churning, on the other hand, can feel like a similar process to decluttering. Spending your time and energy going through and sorting stuff, but unlike the decluttering process, not making (or following through with) the decision to let items go and get them out of your house. Therefore not reducing the amount of stuff in your home.

Decluttering can sometimes be challenging. All of a sudden. there are lots of decisions to make;

What should you keep?

What should you let go of?

How and where to store the items that you need to keep?

What should I do with the items that I don't want?

If you find these types of decisions overwhelming, it's sometimes easier to fall into the cycle of churning - to move an item aside or to store it in a box 'for now'. A space you have sorted may look and feel a bit better for short time. But after a while, you realise that the clutter is still there (just in different places) and it still needs to be properly sorted out - again.

You'll never fully feel the benefits in your home and peace of mind until the clutter leaves the house.

It's always going to be a struggle to take control of your home and get organised if you haven't decluttered properly first so it's really important to go through the full process.


Start small, to begin with. Don't try and declutter a whole room in one go - start with one drawer, shelf or small space and 15 minutes, and build up to bigger spaces or longer sessions.

Try and stick to the 'touch it once' rule. As you sort through a space, place anything that you're keeping in the area that it will live. Anything else should be placed in a sorting area - ready to leave the house.

Creating clutter sorting areas to place items into once a decision has been made (DONATE, RECYCLE, SELL etc.) will help you to feel in control of the process and reduce the need to rethink your decisions.

Following a process helps to create a flow and reduces the amount of the decisions you have to make on what to do next.

Set yourself some goals and rules before you start decluttering. Getting clear on what you want to achieve will help you to ask the right questions and avoid the decision fatigue which leads to churning.

Have an exit strategy for the things that need to leave the house. Once you've made the decision that it's going, it needs to be out the door as soon as possible. You don't want to have to make another set of decisions on the best place for it to go - this is where you're most likely to 'churn' and it'll end up merging back into the house.

It's easy to get stuck in a rut when you're decluttering. So, sometimes, you have to take a step back and assess the progress you are making. If you feel yourself not able to make decisions - stop, take a break and come back to it when you feel more refreshed.

If you feel really stuck and struggling to find a flow in your decluttering process, it may be beneficial to get some additional hands-on support to keep you on track. A Professional Organiser can help guide you through the decluttering process, provide support for decision making and advise on an exit strategy for your clutter. Get in touch or visit APDO (The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers) to find an organiser in your area.

NOTE: Churning is very common for those affected by Hoarding Disorder. If the level of clutter in your home is negatively impacting the way you live, you may benefit from getting in touch with organisations such as Help For Hoarders or Hoarding Disorders UK

Can you relate to churning?

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Oct 22, 2020

I'm so guilty of this, and it's so self defeating. Instead of going through a few of my boxes (full of stuff that I've already decided I don't need) and getting rid of things, I spend hours rearranging them so that they take up less space in my room.

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