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How to Declutter Your Storage Room without Feeling Overwhelmed

How to Declutter Your Storage Room without Feeling Overwhelmed

There’s a space many of us dread when we think about decluttering – the storage room! But decluttering your storage room doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Today I’m sharing my best tips and tricks to declutter your storage room without losing your mind! Including all the steps to tackle this clutter catchall once and for all!

Why is it so hard to declutter your storage room?

Storage spaces, whether it’s a storage room, basement, attic, garage, shed, etc. can be challenging to declutter. And usually, it’s simply because they are so full of stuff!

Storage spaces can easily become dumping grounds. It’s where we put things we don’t know what to do with. As well as stuff we just don’t want to deal with!

Because storage spaces can be full of a lot of stuff, decluttering them can be a lot of work. It can feel overwhelming when facing boxes full of stuff and years’ worth of clutter you can’t even name.

In addition, because our storage spaces are often out of sight, or less visible than our main living spaces, it doesn’t always seem like a high priority to declutter your storage room. It’s easy to put storage spaces on the back burner. Out of sight and out of mind.

Even hidden clutter weighs on you

But the thing is, even clutter you don’t see on a daily basis still weighs on you. It’s all still there, lurking in the depths of your storage room. Causing mental clutter and adding to the weight your “stuff” adds to your life.

Not only will decluttering your storage spaces help clear the mental clutter and burden too much stuff adds to your life. But when you declutter your storage room, it makes life easier in many ways!

For example, you know exactly what you have, where it is and you can find what you’re looking for quickly and easily. If you’ve ever had to go on a wild goose chase looking for your one missing ski boot or a special photo you know you have somewhere, you know how valuable this can be!

Getting rid of your clutter catchall just feels great!

You don’t need more storage space, you just need less stuff!

Another great reason to declutter your storage room is to help you feel happier with your home.

It’s easy to wish for more storage space in your home. But often our storage spaces are filled with things we don’t use, need or even like!

You might have enough storage space in your home for the things you actually use, need and love. You just don’t realize it because the storage space you have is filled with too much stuff.

Wouldn’t it be nice to realize you don’t actually need a bigger house or more storage space? You just need less stuff filling the space you have!

How to declutter your storage room: Before you begin

Start somewhere easier

I don’t recommend starting your decluttering journey in your storage room. If you’re just getting started decluttering and simplifying your home, start somewhere easier.

Your storage room can be one of the harder places to declutter. And starting there makes it easy to get overwhelmed, discouraged and give up on decluttering altogether.

Starting with an easier decluttering project will help build your confidence and momentum.

Great places to start are the bathroom, your pantry, the coat closet, etc. Somewhere you have little emotional or sentimental attachment to and will help build your decluttering muscles.

Next, declutter a high-impact area to give yourself more time and energy

After you’ve decluttered somewhere easy, move on to areas that will have the biggest impact on your life once they’re clutter-free.

Not only will you feel inspired to continue once you see the positive difference decluttering these areas makes in your life.

But decluttering these high-impact areas will give you more time and energy to declutter your storage room. Simply because your home will take less time and energy to maintain now.

Once you’ve made some progress in the main living areas of your home, it’s time to tackle the storage spaces.

You’ve built up your confidence, momentum and motivation. As well as built your “decluttering muscles” so you are better at letting go and ready to declutter a more difficult space.

Make a plan

Whenever you’re tackling a big project, having a plan to follow is important. It’s all too easy to hit a stumbling block, lose your motivation, or simply start feeling overwhelmed if you don’t have a plan in place.

A few important things to include in your plan are:

When you’ll declutter

Plan and schedule your decluttering times and stick to them. If you don’t schedule them and hold yourself accountable, you’ll likely never find the time.

Decide what works best for you and your schedule – longer decluttering sessions or more frequent, shorter decluttering sessions.

What you’ll do with the stuff you’re getting rid of

Don’t let getting the stuff you’re decluttering out of the house be a roadblock to your decluttering success.

Decide what you’ll do with it, where you’ll donate it, how often you’ll drop off donations, where you’ll keep items waiting to be sold/donated, etc. now so you won’t have to figure it out as you go.

What you’ll declutter

Make a plan for how you’ll move through your storage spaces as you declutter. For example, maybe you’ll plan to start with seasonal décor, then craft supplies and finally sentimental items.

Your plan may change if needed, but having an idea of what order you’ll declutter your storage room and the items in it can be helpful to keep you on track.

**You can sign up for my email list and get a FREE decluttering workbook to help you make your plan!**

Focus on decluttering before organizing

It can be tempting to go out and buy shelving, bins, and storage boxes when you are ready to declutter your storage room.

But don’t do this!

Always thoroughly declutter before you even think about organizing, especially in a storage space.

Not only do you not want to add more clutter to your home disguised as organizing solutions. But you also don’t know what you’ll need to organize the space until you know what you’ll be left with.

And if you do a thorough job decluttering, you might not even need many organizing solutions at all!

Donating vs selling

Another important consideration to make as you declutter your storage room is deciding if you will donate or sell what you’re getting rid of.

It can be tempting to want to sell a lot of it, especially as you see the amount of money spent adding up. Selling is an option, but choose wisely when making this decision.

Selling items, whether at a garage sale or listing items individually online, takes a lot of time and effort.

Decluttering your storage room is likely already going to take a lot of time and effort. Be sure you have enough time to devote to doing the decluttering and following through and selling the items.

The last thing you want to see happen is your decluttering progress get undone as you try to sell items.

If things sit around waiting to be sold, it’s easy for them to get forgotten about or spread out over the house.

Then you’re no longer decluttering, you’re just shifting stuff from one pile to another. And no one wants to see all of their hard work decluttering undone like that!

It can be hard to see all the stuff you spent money on simply be donated. But remember, the money is already spent. If you don’t want to spend the time or energy to sell the items, let them go, move on and enjoy the time, space and freedom less stuff gives you.

Then use it as a lesson about shopping more intentionally moving forward.

Unless you really need the money, or have a few high-value items to sell, donating items might be better than trying to sell them when you’re tackling a large decluttering project.

Gather your supplies

You don’t need much to get started decluttering, but a few items are good to have on hand.

For example, some garbage bags and boxes are great for items you’re getting rid of. You may also want to have some Post-it notes and a marker on hand to label items.

Dress comfortably and bring a water bottle and even some music or a great podcast to listen to in order to help make the process more fun!

How to declutter your storage room: Let’s dive in

Do a quick decluttering sweep through your storage room

A great way to start decluttering your storage space is to do a quick decluttering sweep through the room. Look for easy things to get rid of like garbage, broken items, or things you have no attachment to.

This will help get you started, especially if you feel overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start!

Next, move on to decluttering large items like furniture, sports equipment, etc.

Clearing some of the larger items from the space will immediately remove some of the visual clutter and make a noticeable difference in the space.

The more you can build your momentum and confidence, the easier it is to declutter your storage room.

Sort items into categories

When you’re tackling a big space like a storage room, it’s helpful to sort everything into categories before decluttering.

Seeing how much you have of each type of item is important to give you a better perspective about the amount you’re keeping. As well as help you avoid keeping multiple or duplicate items.

This is a great time to make a pile of each family member’s stuff for them to declutter on their own as well.

Once you have everything categorized, decide if any of the categories no longer suit your needs or lifestyle.

The stuff you keep should reflect your current lifestyle. Not old hobbies, lifestyles, seasons of life, etc.

For example, if your kids are teenagers, you likely no longer need any baby gear. Or if you haven’t been skiing in the last 10 years, you might want to let go of your skis.

Start making decluttering decisions

As you begin, remind yourself that if something has been sitting unused in storage for a while, you likely don’t need it at all. If you haven’t used it recently, when will you use it?

Use my list of decluttering questions to help you decide what is worth keeping and what you’re ready to get rid of.

The two key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you use the item regularly?
  • Do you love the item and it makes you happy?

It’s also great to ask yourself if the item is worth the time and space it takes up in your home and your life.

Be ruthless!

When you declutter your storage room, it’s important to be as ruthless as possible.

I’m a big advocate of using a “maybe box” when decluttering for items you’re having a hard time deciding what to do with.

But I strongly suggest you avoid using a “maybe box” or a maybe pile when you declutter your storage room.

Storage rooms have a tendency to become a whole room version of a “maybe box”. It’s where you put all the things from the rest of the house you don’t know what to do with or can’t make a decision about.

But when you declutter your storage room, this is it – decision time. No more maybes, if you don’t use it or love it, time to get rid of it!

What if I need this just in case?

“What if” and “just in case” items can be tricky as you declutter your storage room. But don’t let them stop you!

If you’re worried about getting rid of something you might need, try to think through the scenario in your head.

Ask yourself when you last actually used the item. If you didn’t have it anymore, what would you do (use something else, borrow, etc.)?

I also like to use the 20/20 rule. If something can be replaced for less than $20 and in less than 20 minutes, it’s not worth holding on to “just in case”.

Sentimental items

Another common struggle as you declutter your storage room is making decisions about sentimental items.

Sentimental items can be some of the most difficult to declutter. But they don’t have to completely throw you off track.

Do a little bit of decluttering at a time when you’re tackling sentimental items. It can be draining to tackle these kinds of items. Do a little bit at a time so you won’t get overwhelmed or burnt out.

Enjoy the memories, but remember, the memories aren’t in the item itself. The memories are in your heart and mind, and you’ll always have them regardless of if you keep the physical items or not.

Taking pictures of your sentimental items is a great way to preserve the memories without keeping the items themselves.

And just remember, only keep the sentimental items that are truly important and valuable to you. Keeping too many items dilutes the value of all of your sentimental items.

For more tips to declutter sentimental items, check out this post.

Give yourself designated space limits

Another great way to declutter your storage room is to give yourself designated space limits for each category of items in your storage space.

Giving yourself a set amount of space helps keep the amount of stuff you keep in check.

It helps remind you that you can keep some of the items, but not all. Only what will fit in the space you have allotted for that category.

Using a self-imposed space limit can help you be more ruthless with your decluttering decisions.

Decide how much space you are willing to devote to each category of items in your storage room. Then stick to those limits!

Nothing gets a pass

As you declutter your storage room, empty each box and sort each item.

It can be tempting to save some time and energy by not going through every single item. But this often leads to keeping things by default or giving items a pass that shouldn’t or don’t need to stay.

Pick up each item and make a decision about it. Nothing should get a pass as you declutter your storage room!

Progress over perfection

As always, remember it’s about progress, not perfection as you declutter your storage room. It will likely take time to declutter your storage room as there is usually a lot of stuff and a lot of decisions to make.

Keep working at decluttering and remind yourself that each item you decide to let go of is one step closer to your decluttering goals.

After decluttering, organize what’s left

After you thoroughly declutter your storage room, it’s time to organize what’s left.

Make a home for each item you’re keeping. Label things and organize them in a way that’s easily accessible and logical.

Not only will this make it easy to know what you have and find what you’re looking for. But it will also help keep your storage room from turning into a junk room or dumping ground again in the future.

Reassess in a few months

After you declutter your storage room, I highly recommend doing another round of decluttering in a few months.

Look at what you’ve kept and see if you’ve used it or not (aside from seasonal items of course). If you haven’t used it since you decluttered, do you really need it?

You can also evaluate if the setup of your storage room and the organizational system is working for you or if there are things you can tweak to make it more functional.

Have you tackled decluttering your storage room? What is the most challenging part of decluttering your storage spaces? Let me know in the comments!

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Jean S

Friday 9th of September 2022

My storage room is disgusting. It was always so nice and organized until I married my husband 16 years ago. He moved all of his mother’s things in there and now it is full to the rafters with husk and baseball cards. We decluttered a couple of years ago, but then he started going through his mother’s things and once again, there is just a narrow path to walk through. It has caused anger, frustration and fights. He has been here 16 years and has not cleaned anything out. We are older and I am thinking that I want to downsize. I just can’t motivate him to get rid of his junk! Help!!!

Simple Lionheart Life

Wednesday 14th of September 2022

I'm sorry to hear you're both struggling with this. My best advice would be to start by talking to him about it and really being honest about how overwhelmed you feel about it. Maybe you can come up with a plan or schedule to start going through it. Or even set some goals about how much you'd like to downsize in that area. I hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

Alice Carroll

Thursday 22nd of October 2020

I agree that having a schedule is a good way to properly handle decluttering activities. Maybe I should rent a storage unit soon in order to have a place where I can store items that I don't need in the house but I wouldn't want to throw away. I'm sure there are a lot of old photo albums in my attic that I'd want to keep but are just taking up too much space.

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 23rd of October 2020

Yes, a schedule is a great way to hold yourself accountable when you're decluttering. I would hesitate to start using a storage unit. It could become a way to avoid making decisions about items, and then when it's "out of sight, out of mind", you might end up avoiding it even more or even forgetting about it! Plus, you don't want to pay to store things you don't use, need or love! I would recommend continuing to work through your spaces clearing the clutter first. You may find the space you free up by removing the clutter gives you plenty of space for the things you want to keep. Thanks for reading and good luck as you declutter!

Sachin Diwakar

Monday 29th of June 2020

Really very nice and informative article. Keep it up such a nice posting like this.

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 29th of June 2020

Thanks for reading :)

Kerri B.

Monday 6th of April 2020

Being on COVID-19 lockdown for awhile, I figured it was the perfect time to organize my storage room. I was feeling a little overwhelmed, just thinking about it. But, now I've read through your article, made some notes, and I'm ready to get started! Thanks for taking the stress out of this task ("it's about progress, not perfection"). I am actually looking forward to it now!!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 6th of April 2020

Oh that's so great to hear Kerri! I'm so happy you're feeling confident and looking forward to the project. Good for you! Thanks for reading and happy decluttering :)

Ranjeet sharma

Tuesday 20th of August 2019

Hey, this is really a nice article and you shared the very informative article here I started a blog I hope it will succeed as you keep it up such a nice posting like this and can you suggest me some tips for a beginner. Thank you

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 20th of August 2019

Thanks! I'm glad it was helpful. Good luck with your blog and thanks for reading :)

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