Two Things to Try If You Get Stuck While Decluttering Your Makeup

Two Things to Try If You Get Stuck While Decluttering Your Makeup

Two Things to Try If You Get Stuck While Decluttering Your Makeup

ilia saie september 2021Out with the old, in with the new!

Hi, friend. You may or may have been around last week when I mentioned the plateau I’d hit in my ongoing makeup decluttering process.

Quick recap, but I’ve been working on it since early summer, and for reasons I don’t fully understand yet (and perhaps never will), I’ve reached the event horizon of said process. In other words, I’m at the point where it’s become just really hard for me to say goodbye to things I never actually use.

I want to power through it and, quite frankly, I’m tired of looking at the totes piled up in the corner of my dining room! — so I’ve been thinking deeply about next steps.

Last weekend, I stumbled upon a couple of ideas that seemed to help the process along, including 1) physically putting myself into the decluttering process by opening the totes and standing there amongst them, and 2) using good old-fashioned bribery to motivate myself.

These are strategies I’ve employed before to get moving on projects, and I know they work well for me when it comes to projects I don’t necessarily want to do. I’ve found them very useful for powering through plateaus.

Put yourself into the situation (quite literally)

So, with all the old makeup in the totes, what I’ve been doing is unstacking each tote — which isn’t an easy task, mind you, because they’re big and heavy — and opening them all up in the dining room. Then, I stand there amongst them for a few minutes.

Most of the time after standing there twiddling my thumbs for a few minutes, I get down to business. It sounds so simple and basic, but sometimes that passive aggressive push is all it takes to get moving.

I started doing this trick in high school when I was in band. I’d go through phases when I didn’t want to practice whatever instrument du jour I was into at the time. (Side note: I was a massive music nerd and played a bunch of instruments, but in high school band, I mostly played flute. Anywho!)

I never quite learned how to play the drums, though. Also, vintage CoyCoy!

Whenever I’d go through one of those spells, I’d physically put myself into a practice situation by setting up my music stand and my sheet music, and getting all set to go. Then, I’d sit down, open my flute case, put my flute together, and proceed to tell myself that if after sitting for five minutes I still didn’t want to practice, I could put everything away and go do whatever else I wanted.

Most of the time, like 99% of the time, I’d end up practicing because I figured I was already there. Might as well do it at that point since I made the effort to set everything up. 😉

The idea of “physically putting myself into a situation” is also helpful when I feel like bailing on a workout. I’ll sausage myself into my workout clothes and shoes, wrangle my hair into a bun, set out my mat and whatever weights I might need, and fill up my water bottle. Then I’ll stand there, quite literally, until I realize, “What the hell; I’m already here. I might as well get started.”

Try it the next time you need a little motivation.

Good ol’-fashioned bribery

The second motivational strategy I use is one that really helps me — using bribery as a reward!

Years ago I did a half marathon, and at the start of every week, I’d write down how many miles I wanted to train that week and on which days I planned to run those miles. If by the end of the week I hit all my goals, I’d treat myself to a meal at my favorite sushi restaurant or would buy myself a piece of clothing or a new pen and a notebook.

My weakness!

Last weekend, I started telling myself that if I decluttered a certain number of items, I could then purchase one new thing, and I ended up decluttering a ton and rewarded myself with a trip to Sephora and Ulta.

ilia saie september 2021Time for a reward!

Here’s the key though: writing everything down so you track your progress! (Tip: it helps to use cute steno.)

Every time things go out, I write “# things removed = 1 new piece of makeup.”

Another key to this is to reward yourself as soon as possible after accomplishing your goal. I’ve found that the quicker I reward myself, the easier it is to stay motivated.

Also, um…I do realize the irony in rewarding myself with new makeup for getting rid of old makeup, and I absolutely DO NOT WANT to find myself in a situation where all the totes are just refilled again. I want to be more careful and selective about the makeup I keep in my space and my life from this point forward. I only want to have items I actually use and love.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. 😊

So far, I’m loving the Ilia Color Haze Blush and the Liquid Powder Eye Tint!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


There are 9 comments on this post. Leave yours.

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Reader Interactions


  • Jennifer R Osborn says

    September 9th, 2021 at 11:30 am

    Oh girl! Have you not read Marie Kondo yet?
    Probably one of the best books ever written.
    Marie could help you with this.

    Also more vintage Coy Coy pics please! That seems like a million years ago.


    • Karen says

      September 9th, 2021 at 11:47 am

      I have! It’s a great book!


  • Amy says

    September 9th, 2021 at 11:38 am

    I love this “putting yourself physically into the situation” strategy. And that wall of colorful sharpies is my dream come true.

    You’ll get there! Wherever “there” is, right?! One thing that helps me is wanting a different visual or physical look or space than I’m getting with piles of stuff around. Like, “I don’t want to let those old books go. But even more, I don’t want to look at that box of them awkwardly sitting in my space another week!” This helped me get rid of literally 10 boxes of books I once loved but hadn’t cracked for a decade.


    • Karen says

      September 9th, 2021 at 12:24 pm

      Oh, I like that idea, Amy!


  • Sherry says

    September 9th, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    Oh my goodness…Connor is so precious in this pic!! And you look so pretty in your pineapple sweat shirt!!


  • Elinor says

    September 10th, 2021 at 12:58 am

    I find it helps to remember nothing liquid should be used when more than a year old, possibly less, as it goes off. Also if it smells funny, chuck it!


  • Anne says

    September 10th, 2021 at 7:03 am

    These are amazing tips – but how do you motivate yourself to set everything up? That is the step where I already fail…


  • SJ says

    September 11th, 2021 at 11:08 am

    That picture of the stationery aisle is making me weak in the knees, lol. I have been decluttering that kind of stuff myself so I can’t look too long! Impressed with how much you’re doing with decluttering! You got this, Karen!


  • Missy says

    September 12th, 2021 at 1:45 am

    My sis and I do what we call a holding period. If you can’t bear to let it go just yet keep it for now, possibly separate from the stuff you are for sure keeping. The next time you go through your items and you still have not used it, it’ll be a lot easier to let it go. The holding period seems to give my brain time to say goodbye without regrets.


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