Today’s post is all about how to start decluttering when overwhelmed. Either by the amount of work ahead of you, the lack of time you have to do the work, or just simply when you’re overwhelmed with too much stuff!
Decluttering can feel overwhelming
Decluttering your home can be a lot of work. Physical work to sort through, move things, reorganize things, haul away the things you’re getting rid of, etc. But also, a lot of mental and emotional work to make all of the decluttering decisions and sort through the emotions decluttering and “stuff” in general can bring up at times.
And sometimes that work can feel overwhelming. Especially when you have a lot of stuff to sort through and make decisions about.
Today’s post will give you 16 tips to help you clear the clutter and reclaim your time and space.
Whether you’re struggling to figure out how to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed. Or if you’ve been decluttering for a while, but are still feeling overwhelmed with too much stuff, these tips will help.
Use these ideas and decluttering strategies to make the process of clearing the clutter easier, less stressful and less overwhelming. So you can get the work done and create a home that looks, feels and functions in a way that works best for you!
How to start decluttering when overwhelmed with too much stuff
1. Have a clear “why”
I include this point in many posts, because it’s really important.
When you’re undertaking a big project like decluttering your home, knowing why you’re doing it is essential.
When you have a clear understanding of why you’re making the changes you are, it will help give you the motivation to keep going. Even (or maybe especially!) when decluttering feels hard or overwhelming.
Figure out exactly why you want to clear the clutter and simplify. Is it to have more time to spend with people you love? To feel less stress at home trying to keep up with and manage all your stuff? More time for a hobby you love? More freedom to travel?
Whatever it is, know exactly what’s driving you to make this change. And keep coming back to it whenever you feel lost, overwhelmed or in need of a boost of motivation.
2. Have a plan
Often, the unknowns that come with a big project are what can make it feel overwhelming and stressful.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about decluttering, put together a plan so you can stop stressing, figure out the unknowns and plan the steps you’ll need to take to start reducing those overwhelming feelings.
A decluttering plan can include things like when you’ll declutter, what spaces you’ll tackle and when, what goals or vision you have for each space and your home in general, what you’ll do with the stuff you’re getting rid of, etc.
Take a few minutes to think through and make your decluttering plan so you can avoid some of the common decluttering roadblocks. As well as have a plan you can follow to keep you on track as you do the work.
And to make it as easy as possible to create your decluttering plan, click the image below to get a FREE workbook with everything you need to make your own personalized decluttering plan!
3. Have someone guide you through the process
One of the best ways to start decluttering if you’re feeling overwhelmed is to let someone else lead you through the process.
My decluttering guide, Your Clutter-Free Home, is a great tool to help you declutter, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Not only does it teach you how to declutter with confidence and clarity, easily identifying what is adding value to your life, and what’s just adding clutter. But it also gives you detailed step-by-step decluttering checklists for every room in your home.
The checklists break the decluttering work down into small, manageable bite-sized decluttering tasks you can tackle one at a time.
Helping you avoid feeling overwhelmed by decluttering, giving you clear guidance about where to start and what to do next, and best of all giving you a simple roadmap to follow to get the work done as quickly and easily as possible.
You can learn more about Your Clutter-Free Home HERE!
4. Start somewhere easier
One of the best ways to overcome feeling overwhelmed when you’re decluttering is by starting with decluttering something or somewhere that feels easier to you.
If the category of stuff you’re trying to tackle feels really difficult and overwhelming, try decluttering things that feel easier. Often this means a space or category of stuff that requires fewer emotional decisions and more logical decisions instead.
For example, if tackling memorabilia from your children’s baby years feels too hard and overwhelming, try decluttering a drawer in your office or kitchen instead.
Somewhere the decisions are less emotional and you feel less emotionally connected to the stuff. Where you can make more matter-of-fact decisions instead.
Decluttering and making confident decluttering decisions are skills you get better at the more you do them. And the more you practice getting rid of things, the easier and less scary it becomes.
Start practicing this with easier stuff first. Then, when you tackle the more challenging spaces and categories of stuff, you will feel more confident decluttering. And letting go will feel easier and less overwhelming.
5. Start smaller
Another easy way to avoid feeling overwhelmed when you’re decluttering is by doing the work in really small steps.
For example, if you’re trying to declutter a big space but feel completely overwhelmed, try starting on a smaller scale. Either tackling a smaller space in your home. Or breaking the larger space down into small, manageable tasks you can tackle one at a time. Such as working on decluttering one drawer, one shelf, one box, one pile, etc. at a time.
Another way to start with small, manageable decluttering tasks is by only doing a little bit of decluttering at a time.
Try decluttering for 10 minutes a day. Set a timer and tell yourself you can stop as soon as the timer rings. If you get on a roll, you can keep going and do more decluttering. But if you’re struggling to get started, 10 minutes usually feels manageable enough.
6. Start with your biggest source of stress first
Another way to approach decluttering when you’re overwhelmed or don’t know where to start is to tackle the space or category of stuff causing the most stress in your life because it’s taking more time and energy from you than you’d like.
Tackling your biggest cause of stress first will immediately make life easier for you. Freeing up a significant amount of time and energy you used to spend managing all that stuff.
It will make a big impact on the way your home looks, feels and functions. And it will also make a big positive impact on the way you feel and function in your home.
For example, if you’re always feeling overwhelmed by the kitchen and the piles of dirty dishes you can never seem to keep up with, start there. Simplify the kitchen so you spend less of your time and energy trying to stay on top of it. And life at home will feel a little less overwhelming, time-consuming and stressful in general.
And just remember, if the thought of decluttering your entire kitchen feels like too much, break the space down into little tasks you can tackle one at a time. For example, decluttering one drawer, one cupboard, one shelf at a time until it’s done.
7. Start in a high-impact space
Another great place to start decluttering is in a space that is heavily and frequently used. Somewhere you and your family use often, spend a lot of time in and want it to function better.
The kitchen is a great example in many households. As the heart of the home, it’s often where you cook, eat, gather, connect, etc. Other examples of high-use spaces are the entryway, the bathroom, the pantry, etc.
By simplifying and clearing the clutter from a space you use a lot, it’ll make a big impact on the way the space looks, feels and functions. You’ll be able to notice and appreciate the results of your hard work right away.
Being able to see and experience these improvements for yourself is a great way to keep you inspired and motivated to maintain a clutter-free home. As well as continue decluttering other spaces.
8. Start with a clutter sweep
One of my favourite ways to start decluttering is doing a clutter sweep through your whole house.
Grab a box or laundry basket and quickly walk through each room of your house, looking for anything and everything you no longer use, need, love or want to keep.
This is not only a great way to remove a bunch of easy, surface clutter. But it also breaks the ice and gets you decluttering which often takes away some of the feelings of overwhelm about starting.
9. Declutter big things first
If you’re struggling to start decluttering, see if there are any big items you can declutter first. Think things like furniture, large toys, unused exercise equipment, etc.
Removing these big items makes a significant impact on the space quickly. Often making it feel less overwhelming when you see how much progress you can make by only making these few decisions.
10. Start at the doorway and work clockwise
If you’re really not sure where to start decluttering a room, try starting at the doorway and working clockwise from there.
This method removes the need to decide what to work on, where to start, what to do next, etc. and helps you dive in and get started.
It’s also great if you tend to lose your focus and end up bouncing around from one spot to another. Working in this clockwise pattern makes it easier to focus on one area at a time.
11. Make decluttering a habit
Doing a little bit of decluttering everyday means you’ll be making an effort to remove clutter everyday.
Consistency is often more important than intensity when it comes to decluttering. Consistent efforts to remove clutter from your home regularly often give you better results than trying to do a lot of decluttering all at once a few times a year.
And getting in a good decluttering habit also means you’ll get lots of practice at spotting and getting rid of clutter. Making it easier and easier to clear the clutter from your home as time goes on.
12. Make time to declutter
If you know you need to declutter, but never seem to have any extra time to get it done, it can make decluttering feel really overwhelming.
Sometimes instead of waiting to find time to declutter, you need to let go of something else temporarily to make time to declutter right now.
For example, maybe you could plan to order take-out once a week and use that time to do some decluttering instead.
It could mean only doing the bare minimum of household chores and shifting your focus to clearing the clutter instead.
It could mean letting your kids have a little extra screen time a few days a week and focusing on doing some decluttering during that time.
Maybe it means skipping your yoga class, stepping back from some volunteering work or not taking extra overtime at work right now, and using the time to declutter instead.
Maybe you can get up 15 minutes earlier every day and do a quick decluttering tasks in that time.
Remember, it won’t be forever. It’s simply giving yourself some extra time to focus on decluttering now.
Once the decluttering work is done, not only will you have time to return to the things you gave up temporarily. But you’ll have even more time now that your home takes less time to maintain and take care of!
13. Donate, instead of sell
If you have a lot of stuff to declutter and are feeling overwhelmed, you might be able to make quicker and easier progress if you donate most of it, rather than trying to sell items you’re getting rid of. Or only planning to sell larger, more valuable items and donating the rest.
Selling items takes a lot of time and energy in itself. Which can add a lot of work to your plate on top of all the decluttering you’re trying to do. If you don’t really need the money from selling items, donating what you’re getting rid of can be quicker, easier and less overwhelming.
14. Don’t organize until you declutter
Trying to organize clutter will end up wasting both time and money because you don’t need or use the stuff anyway. Stop wasting time organizing and money on bins and baskets and just get rid of the stuff instead.
Organizing is a great way to make your home efficient. But only if you truly use and need what you’re organizing.
Get rid of the clutter first. Not only will it be easier to get organized, but your home will be easier to keep tidy and organized too. Simply because there’s less stuff!
15. Focus on the positives
Even when it feels hard, decluttering is a positive thing.
By clearing the clutter you’re giving yourself more time, space, energy and freedom. You’re creating a home that’s easier to take care of and maintain. And most importantly, you’re creating a home you and your family feel good in!
Keep reminding yourself of these positive things, especially when decluttering feels hard.
And while you’re at it, do what you can to make the decluttering process feel as nice as it can too!
Play your favourite music, listen to a podcast you love or an audiobook you enjoy. Bring your favourite snack and drink with you while you’re decluttering. Reward yourself with a treat (ideally something that won’t add more “stuff” to your home!) after reaching a decluttering goal, etc.
Do what you can to make the process feel fun and enjoyable.
16. Just start!
Sometimes when decluttering feels overwhelming, the best thing you can do is just start.
Don’t overthink it. Don’t over plan it. And don’t spend too much time thinking about why you can’t declutter right now. Just dive in and start taking action – even if it’s a small action!
If you’re struggling to figure out how to start decluttering when overwhelmed, do one thing today to start making progress. Taking the first steps and starting a big project can often be the hardest part. Stop putting it off, get started, and it will probably feel easier to keep going from there!