One of the biggest roadblocks I hear about when it comes to decluttering is feeling completely overwhelmed with clutter. And also overwhelmed by the amount of time and work it’s going to take to get it under control.
Maybe you get inspired to declutter and get organized. But then the extra time and effort needed to declutter start to feel like too much on top of everything else that needs to be done. You still need to go to work, cook meals, clean the house, take kids to school and activities, spend time with people you care about, do the laundry, buy groceries…and the list goes on.
The good news is, the more you declutter, simplify and organize the stuff in your house, the less time and energy your house and the stuff in it will take to manage.
But in the meantime, how do you get there?? How do you clear the clutter when your life is already busy and full and you’re feeling completely overwhelmed with clutter and the thought of tackling it all??
You can declutter your home – even if you’re overwhelmed with clutter!
In today’s post, you’ll find 17 tips, tools & strategies to help you declutter your home and simplify your life, even if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed with clutter.
These tips and tools will help you find ways to make the process of decluttering become easier and less overwhelming. All so you can start enjoying the benefits of a simplified, clutter-free home!
17 decluttering tips when you’re overwhelmed with clutter
1. Just start!
Sometimes the hardest part of starting a big project is just that – actually getting started!
It’s easy to think, worry and stress about a big project, and end up turning it into something bigger and scarier than it actually is in your mind. Then just keep putting it off!
Instead of getting too caught up thinking and worrying about decluttering, how much time it’s going to take and how you’ll ever get it all done, just dive in and get started.
Spend 10 minutes decluttering one drawer. Or find 3 things to get rid of from whatever room you’re in.
It likely took years to accumulate all the stuff that currently fills your house, you can’t expect to declutter it all in one day. But remind yourself that any time you find something to toss, donate, sell or get rid of, is one step closer to reaching your decluttering goals.
Often, once you get started, it’s a lot easier to keep going!
2. Start small
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter the best way to make progress without adding to your overwhelm is to start small.
Don’t think about decluttering your house as a whole. Instead, just focus on decluttering one small space at a time. Think about decluttering one drawer, one shelf, one box, one pile, etc.
You’ve probably heard the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” And it’s a great way to approach decluttering too. Just take it one small step at a time and all those small steps will add up to great progress!
3. Be consistent
The key to making small steps add up to big progress is consistency. Small steps, repeated often, are how you make progress.
Aim to do a little bit of decluttering, often. Try to make an effort to declutter something every day. Even if you only have 5 minutes or find a couple of things to get rid of, you’ll still be moving in the right direction.
4. Make it a habit
The thought of decluttering can feel overwhelming when your life is full and it’s hard to imagine trying to add another project to your plate.
But if you can make decluttering a habit – something you do automatically when you’re already doing your other tasks and chores – it can feel less overwhelming.
For example, when you are deciding what to wear, always be on the lookout for clothes you don’t love or wear and can get rid of. If you often try something on but never choose to wear it, get rid of it instead of hanging it back up.
When you’re picking up stuff around the house, always be looking for things to get rid of instead of putting them away.
When you make a point to be looking for stuff to declutter, you can add decluttering into your day with very little extra time or effort required.
5. Make a decluttering plan
If you’re overwhelmed with clutter and overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering, I always recommend making a decluttering plan.
A decluttering plan helps you get all the things you want to tackle out of your head and onto paper, clearing a lot of mental clutter.
Your decluttering plan can list the spaces you want to declutter, in the order you want to tackle them. As well as when you’ll declutter, what you’ll do with the stuff you’re getting rid of, etc.
You can read more about how to make a decluttering plan here. Or sign up for our email list and receive a free workbook to help you make your own decluttering plan!
Not only will a decluttering plan stop your decluttering to-do list from swirling around in your head. But it also makes it easy to dive in and get to work decluttering when you have time, no extra thought or planning required. You can simply check your list and see what needs to be done next!
Not to mention, it’s always satisfying to check things off your list as you get them done. And helps track your progress and show you how far you’ve come when you need an extra boost of motivation.
6. Track your progress
And speaking of tracking your progress, keeping track of how far you’ve come is a great way to stay motivated, especially if you’re overwhelmed with clutter.
Take before and after pictures of the spaces you’re decluttering. If you’re slowly working away at decluttering, sometimes it’s hard to notice what a difference your efforts are making until you see what the space used to look like.
Use the before and after pictures to track your progress and remind you of how far you’ve already come any time you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter or the amount of work to tackle it.
7. Start somewhere easy
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter in your home, it’s probably not the best idea to start decluttering in your most stressful, clutter-filled area. You’re already overwhelmed, starting in a difficult place to declutter is just going to make it worse.
Instead, start somewhere easier. Give yourself a quick and easy decluttering win to boost your confidence, momentum and motivation.
The bathroom is a great place to start. It’s a smaller room, and isn’t usually somewhere you hold your most precious and sentimental possessions.
The pantry, a coat closet, the laundry room, etc. are other examples of spaces that may be easier to declutter. Anywhere you can make more rational, and less emotional, decluttering decisions.
8. Start with the easy stuff
If you’re overwhelmed with clutter and don’t even know where to start, not only can you start in the easier spaces, but you can also look for the easiest, most obvious stuff to get rid of.
Throw out the garbage. Get rid of broken things you know you won’t or can’t repair. Get rid of anything you don’t even like.
This will help you get started. And once you’ve started, it’s easier to keep going!
9. Make decluttering a short-term priority
When you’re overwhelmed thinking of how you’ll declutter on top of everything else you need to do, try making decluttering your priority, just for the short-term.
Try to think of things you normally do that you can temporarily stop or do less of to give you more time to declutter for now.
Maybe you could plan to order take-out one night a week so you can use the hour you’d spend cooking doing some decluttering instead. Or maybe you could take some time away from an activity, class or group for a little while and use that time to declutter instead.
Decluttering doesn’t have to completely take over your life. But sometimes making it a priority in the short-term and letting something else go in the meantime can make it feel less overwhelming.
And just remember, once you’ve decluttered and simplified your home, you’ll have even more time and energy for other things in your life because your home and stuff will take less time and energy from you!
10. Stop bringing more stuff in!
If you’re overwhelmed with clutter and are in the process of trying to declutter, making an effort to stop, or at least slowdown, the amount of stuff coming into your home is essential!
If you keep bringing more stuff in, you’ll only be adding to your overwhelm and working against your efforts to declutter.
Put yourself on a spending freeze, avoid the mall and stores as much as you can, unsubscribe from store emails, etc. Do whatever you need to do to stop bringing more stuff into your home whenever possible.
11. Set a timer
A timer is a great tool when you’re feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated.
Give yourself a short amount of time to declutter – maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Then challenge yourself to do as much decluttering in that time as you can.
Not only is the challenge of racing the clock motivating. But a timer also gives you an end time. Instead of focusing on the hours of decluttering ahead of you, you only have to work on it for the next 10 minutes. When the timer rings you can move on with your day.
12. Make decluttering more fun
You might not believe that decluttering can be fun, but there are things you can do to make the process more enjoyable!
Make a decluttering playlist with your favourite songs. Challenge a family member to see who can find more to get rid of – and pick a reward for the winner!
Decluttering doesn’t have to be this serious, boring, awful task. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do what you can to make it more fun! Check out some other ideas to make decluttering more fun here!
13. Set goals and reward yourself
This falls into the fun category but deserves its own point because it’s a great motivating tool.
If you’re overwhelmed with clutter and the decluttering process, set some decluttering goals you want to achieve, and then plan rewards for yourself when you meet your goal.
For example, when you finish decluttering your bathroom, treat yourself to a manicure. When you finish decluttering your book collection, treat yourself to an afternoon of guilt-free reading.
Aim to keep your rewards consumable items or experiences, so you don’t add any more “stuff” to your house in the process.
14. Declutter a high-impact space
Once you’ve done a bit of decluttering and feel more confident, try tackling a high-impact space – somewhere you and your family use often.
The kitchen is a great example of a high-impact room. When you work on decluttering your kitchen, you’ll notice and experience the benefits of your work right away. Cooking, cleaning, eating meals together, etc. will all be easier and more pleasant when you have a clutter-free space.
When you tackle these high-impact spaces, the benefits and evidence of your efforts will be easy to see, notice and appreciate. Which helps you see that decluttering is worth it!
15. Aim for progress, not perfection
If you’re overwhelmed with clutter, the goal is to remove some of the clutter to make your life easier. The goal isn’t to have a Pinterest-worthy space organized with matching bins and not a single piece of clutter in sight. (Unless that is your goal – if it makes you happy, go for it!)
It may take you a few rounds of decluttering to be satisfied with the amount of stuff you have. But in the meantime, you’re still making progress towards simplifying your life.
Remember your goals – to feel less overwhelmed with clutter in your home. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be making progress. Aim for progress, not perfection.
16. Remember your “why”
If you’re overwhelmed with clutter, get really clear about what’s making you overwhelmed and what you want to change about your home.
Focus on the benefits you want to achieve. Maybe you want more time for your family, less time spent cleaning, less stress in your life caused by “stuff”, etc.
Then, whenever you feel overwhelmed with clutter or decluttering, focus on your “why”. Remind yourself that you’re doing this to give yourself more time and space for the things you want to achieve.
Decluttering is a positive thing, but it can be easy to lose sight of that when you’re overwhelmed or stressed with clutter and decluttering. Use your “why” to remind yourself why it will be a positive thing and of the benefits this time and effort spent decluttering will add to your life.
17. Have a clear vision
And one last thing related to your “why” is to be clear about what your version of a simplified, clutter-free home will look like. Get clear for yourself what you want to achieve and what your vision for your home is.
We all have a different version of what “enough” stuff feels and looks like for us. Think about it, or make a vision board, to get clear on what you want to achieve. Then keep your own specific vision in mind as you declutter.
You can declutter even if you’re overwhelmed with clutter!
I hope these tips will help you clear the clutter and simplify your home if you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter.
Decluttering is not always easy – it takes time and effort. But the benefits of a clutter-free, simplified home are well worth it!
Do you feel overwhelmed with clutter in your home? What is the most overwhelming part of decluttering for you? Which of these tips will be most helpful for you?
Wednesday 20th of January 2021
Hi, Melissa! Your article is very helpful bc it is realistic. I am very encouraged about it and wish to thank you. The article is accompanied by your photo and name, which is also very encouraging . I have the pleasure of living in the home of my childhood and I live the home. There is a lot here that reminds me of my childhood and of wonderful memories. I am in the process of decluttering it if it and it is challenging. So far, I had already been doing what you are suggesting and now I feel so encouraged by what you say! It is also very helpful to hear what others are saying. Thank you again!!!
Simple Lionheart Life
Wednesday 20th of January 2021
That's so wonderful, Vera! I'm happy to hear you found it helpful. And I wish you all the best of luck as you continue to declutter and create a home you feel comfortable in to go along with the wonderful memories it holds for you. Thanks for reading and take care!
Sunday 16th of February 2020
I started decluttering a couple of years ago I slowly tackled one room at a time. I was doing pretty well until I had to have major surgery. Now I am finally getting my strength back, so I'm back at it. This time my goal is to reduce the amount of cleaning necessary to keep things tidy. Less clutter, less dusting. Less furniture to move to vacuum. Yes it takes me a little longer to get a task done as I have to stop and rest a little more often but I am already seeing improvement. Your posts keep me motivated. Sometimes I save them to reread when I need a boost. Slow and steady to the finish line. Thanks for your encouraging posts.
Simple Lionheart Life
Friday 21st of February 2020
You're so welcome Kathleen. I'm glad my posts have been helpful and encouraging for you! Slow and steady is a great way to make any big change in our lives, including decluttering. And it sounds like having less to make your home easier to manage is a great idea! Good for you. Thanks for reading and I hope your recovery and decluttering journey continues to go well!
Monday 27th of January 2020
I love these tips, great suggestions! It's definitely a great idea to start small because it's easy to put off the daunting task of decluttering your entire home.
Simple Lionheart Life
Thursday 30th of January 2020
Thanks, I'm so glad you found the post helpful! Yes, taking small steps to declutter and simplify is so important. It's very easy to get overwhelmed otherwise! Thanks for reading :)
Sunday 26th of January 2020
Love this post. It is so easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the small actions that can make a difference. Great reminders and ideas to keep me on the decluttering path. Thanks!
Simple Lionheart Life
Sunday 26th of January 2020
Thanks, Julie! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I couldn't agree more! It's important to remember that small actions are important too! Thanks for reading :)
Sunday 19th of January 2020
These tips are clear, easy and achievable! Big question... how do you motivate someone to declutter? My husband has a tendency to hang on to stuff?
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 20th of January 2020
I'm glad you found the post helpful, Denise! Getting your spouse on board with decluttering can be challenging for sure. My best advice is to lead by example. Start simplifying and decluttering your own stuff first, then move on to the communal stuff he has no strong opinions about. Share why you're doing it and the benefits you're noticing, but don't try to convince or force your husband. Often, when they see the benefits in actions, it can inspire them to try letting go too. Eventually! But even if your husband isn't inspired, at the very least you'll have simplified your life. Decluttering is something you can't force someone else to do, and usually, the more you push them, the less they'll want to let go of anyway! Another idea is to give your husband spaces in the home that are his and he can keep them as cluttered or full of collections as he chooses. Then have other spaces (where you spend more time) that you could compromise to keep more clutter-free. I hope this helps!