“What if I need it in the future?”  “This could be useful!”  “I paid a lot of money for that.” 

Sound familiar? Have you ever tried decluttering only to be thrown off course by these perfectly valid objections? 

This narrative is preventing you from making progress with your decluttering. It leaves you feeling overwhelmed and stuck as you struggle with decluttering. These objections may have several roots, but you may be surprised to know that one of them is a scarcity mindset. In today’s post, you are going to discover how the scarcity mindset is holding you back from making progress on your decluttering journey.  You will also get practical tips on how to overcome its sneaky presence in your fight against clutter.


What is a scarcity mindset?

The concept of a scarcity mindset was first introduced by Stephen Covey in his influential book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It is a belief that resources, opportunities, and success are limited. It’s when you constantly think there’s not enough of something and you worry that you’ll miss out or not have enough. 

The scarcity mindset can vary among individuals. Some may show a stronger tendency toward a scarcity mindset, while others may display it to a lesser extent. Personal experiences of scarcity, poverty or struggle, upbringing, and culturecan all shape the development of a scarcity mindset.

It is then no surprise that in the context of decluttering, this mindset can create problems.  

It leads to feelings of fear and anxiety when letting go, even if you know you don’t need or use something. This mindset can cloud rational decision-making, leading to the accumulation of clutter even when it seems impractical.  

Let’s be honest. We’ve all experienced this first-hand.  

In the kitchen cabinet, an old outdated kettle is shoved in the corner. It was replaced by the shiny new one months ago. “But”, you say to yourself. “What if Mr Shiny suddenly malfunctions or what if we have so many guests one day that we have to boil two kettles of water? Yes, we have to keep the old one as a reliable backup.” And so, the old kettle clings to its place, ready to step in if the fear of scarcity becomes a reality.

Or perhaps your cupboards and drawers are bulging with plastic carrier bags. These bags come in handy for all sorts of expected and unexpected situations. We must keep them all – they are the ultimate versatile resource. And so plastic bags keep breeding.

What about that uncomfortable pair of shoes that you paid good money for, but never wear, because, well, it hurts? Your scarcity mindset will tell you that it’s such a waste to let go and what if there’s a special occasion in the future where it magically fits perfectly? “I’ll keep it just in case.” And so, the shoes remain, occupying valuable wardrobe space and making the things you do love to wear a real pain to find.  

Scraps of wrapping paper, half a pipe cleaner, foreign money, old keys, random screws and washers, old cables and wires lurk in cupboards, unknown rubber items, obsolete electronics, obscurely shaped plastic objects, name it. It all gets stored up. 

The irony is this….

should you find a use for any of these items, you wouldn’t remember that you even have it. And if you do remember, you wouldn’t know where to find it!

Irrespective of where you find yourself on the ‘scarcity mindset scale’, it is good to be aware of these thinking patterns.  It can be a major roadblock for you on your decluttering journey. 

How to overcome this mindset and the struggle with decluttering?

  • Awareness – the first step is to become aware. You are doing that right now by reading this post. You can’t change what you are not aware of. Recognise the signs of a scarcity mindset when it arises. Watch out for those “what if I need it” and “this could be useful” objections. Challenge your thoughts and choose to take on a different perspective.  


  • Practice – if you let go in the face of these objections, you will start to feel the benefit of having less. It will give you the confidence to let go.  You will learn to trust your decluttering judgements more and the little scarcity mindset voice will slowly slip away.


  • Focus on what you are gaining by letting go – less clutter means less stress. You are making way for the things you truly love.  You are creating a space that supports you and not drains you. The value of letting go far outweighs the value of the item you are tempted to keep.


  • Embrace an abundance mindset – this can be as simple as just saying to yourself; “I have enough” and with gratitude focus on what you do have. If you are reading this, I can almost guarantee that you do have enough. Remind yourself frequently.


Now that you understand how the scarcity mindset can hinder your decluttering journey and how to spot it within yourself, it’s time to challenge that mindset and overcome the struggle with decluttering. Remember, you can’t change what you’re not aware of, so stay conscious of those “what if I need it” objections. Trust in your resourcefulness and remind yourself of the relief you felt after letting go of items in the past. 


Please subscribe and share this post if you found it helpful.  And if you have not yet grabbed my guide with some tips on how you can get a more organised home, grab it here.  Let’s embrace an abundance mindset and create a space that supports us and our families. You have enough, and the value of letting go far outweighs the value of the items you’re tempted to keep.