A house full of clutter can keep us from having the life we want. But doing something about it can sometimes feel impossible.
These tips will help you declutter your home, even when you’re overwhelmed and have no idea how to start!
If you’re tired of living in a house full of clutter, and stressed out by the piles of stuff that are all over your home, I know how you feel.
Clutter takes over our space. It steals our peace. And it can even keep us from participating in the simplest of life’s pleasures.
We know how awesome if would be if the mess was gone. But thinking about tackling all of that stuff is overwhelming.
In fact, right now I am looking at a corner of my office/bedroom that is getting way out of hand and desperately needs my attention.
And it’s driving me nuts.
I might even put a picture of it right here so you’ll understand what I’m dealing with.
But, hey. I’ve uncluttered worse disasters.
And if there’s one sure thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that the key to getting clutter under control is making the process as simple and stress-free as possible.
The trick here is to have some easy and practical strategies to help you along the way.
How to Declutter Your Home When You’re Practically Paralyzed by Too Much Stuff and You Don’t Know How to Start
Whether you’re diving in with a full-on decluttering fest, or taking it slow and one bite at a time, these tips I’m sharing on how to declutter when you are seriously overwhelmed will help you reclaim your space, and your sanity.
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1. Identify your clutter
Before you get started, it’s a good idea to take a look around and decide what you’re dealing with.
Do you have a lot of excess items to get rid of?
Or is it really just a matter of cleaning up and shuffling things back to where they belong?
Most of us have a little of both.
But if yours happens to fall into the “things I’m keeping that just need to be put away” category, you may need a good tidying or cleaning up before you start getting rid of stuff.
(By the way, here’s a guided messy house clean-up can help you with that! How to Clean a Really Messy House)
2. Start small
I am a big fan of micro-decluttering.
It’s not overwhelming. And I like how it doesn’t involve making a mess. Or pulling tons of stuff out all at once.
Best of all, micro-decluttering methods don’t require huge chunks of time from your already busy schedule.
Here are a few ideas for you:
- 5-7-9 Method: Set a timer for 9 minutes and declutter 5 to 7 items from one specific area. This works great for drawers, cabinets, flat surfaces like countertops etc.
- One Thing Fling: Pick something from one category to declutter each day.This could be knives, mugs, pens, party supplies…narrow it down so it’s simple and doable in a short amount of time.
- Declutter Dash: Using a timer, set aside 5, 10 or 15 minutes to unclutter as many items as you can from a single room. (Or your entire house if you wish)
Try one or all of the above ideas if you’re short on time or having trouble focusing on the task at hand.
They can help you to see progress quickly and have small wins along the way.
PRO TIP: Once you start filling bags or boxes, donate or take them to the garbage right away so no one is tempted to pull items out again.
3. Skip sentimental items (for now)
Nothing can throw a wrench into a good decluttering session like coming across Grandma’s crocheted doilies or Aunt Mary’s thimble collection.
It’s hard to make decisions around objects that have meaning to us. And it can add stress to an already un-fun project when decluttering.
So if sentimental things are slowing you down, save them for the second go-round when you have already built up some decluttering muscles.
4. Boxes, Bins and Containers…Oh My!
“You can’t organize clutter.”
It’s a saying said often in the world of minimalism and decluttering, but only because it is always so true.
Putting stuff into containers might feel good for a little while. But even if we make more space by hiding things, that weighty feeling of having all of that stuff always creeps back.
Plus, the added task of organizing at the same time can make us want to quit decluttering altogether.
So hold off on investing in a bunch of plastic bins and organizational tools for the time being.
Instead, take that mental energy and motivation that you’ve been saving up for this project and use it for getting rid of things that don’t add to the peace and harmony in your home.
5. Don’t be afraid to throw things out.
Why is it that some of us have trouble putting things in the trash? Even when they’re broken, unusable or just plain worn out!?
There are a lot of reasons why people don’t want to throw things away.
We might feel guilty about putting it in the landfill.
Or we might be afraid that we’ll need it for some purpose down the road.
I even know someone who has such a connection with things that it’s hard to throw obvious trash away.
This is your official permission to throw stuff out.
I know it can be hard.
But the fact is, holding on to those things is not going to solve your problem. And it’s certainly not going to make your life easier. Or better.
Toss it and move on.
6. Choose the least cluttered area
If you’re really having a hard time getting started, pick an area of your home where there’s not a ton of work to be done.
So instead of going for the overstuffed closet that you can barely shut, try setting your sights first on a less intimidating project. Maybe your bedside table/nightstand, silverware drawer, or some other space where you’re confident that you could knock it out in a hurry.
Starting in the least cluttered area first can give you little wins sooner than later. And little wins can trigger those mental shifts that lead to BIG WINS!
And then you’re on your way to decluttering victory!
7. Box it up
You’ve tried everything. But you still can’t get started with decluttering.
That’s okay. It happens.
In fact, I’ve been at that place before where I’ve just stood in the middle of a room and said to myself, “I absolutely cannot deal with this. It needs to go. Now.”
So I just put everything in boxes. Or bags. Just boxed that stuff up.
And, guess what happened! NOTHING happened! Well, nothing bad anyway.
Yes, I had to deal with it later when I was in a better place mentally and physically.
But that’s okay. It all worked out.
Maybe, for whatever reason right now, whether it be depression, chronic illness, little ones using all your time and energy… you need a quick fix for a better quality of life.
So, if you’ve been waiting for permission, here’s your chance.
Go ahead and box it up. Label it with a sharpie.
And store it away for a time when you have the energy to take it on.
(Learn how to declutter your kitchen like a boss: How to Quickly Declutter Your Kitchen the Easy Way)
8. Divide it up
Large areas and entire rooms of clutter can be so overwhelming that you want to stop before you even get started.
Make those daunting spaces feel doable by dividing them into sections or manageable tasks that will work for you.
You can do this in your head. But you could also get fancy and sketch out a quick diagram of the room with sections on paper.
Or just make a written list of each zone.
Either way, check off each thing as you go and remember to take brakes in between tasks.
Because decluttering fatigue is real!
9. Recruit help
The thought of asking for help with decluttering your home can be absolutely terrifying.
I get it. Clutter can make us feel incompetent and even ashamed.
And letting people in on our “messy secret” can leave us feeling exposed and vulnerable, making the shame too much to bear.
You could choose to get over all of that and ask your family and friends for help anyway.
But let’s face it. Not all of us are ready for that. (I’m not sure I’ll EVER be ready for that)
Here are some suggestions to help lessen some of the anxiety that can happen with getting a decluttering helper.
- Have a “runner” that can take items to where they belong as you cull through them. This person doesn’t have to be involved in the actual process of sorting or making decisions. Kids and husbands make great runners!
- Hire a sitter to watch young kiddos while you concentrate on larger decluttering projects.
- Ask someone you trust to hang out with you while you declutter… Just for moral support
Get creative and think of other ways that you can lessen your load on days that you put a lot of time or energy into decluttering.
10. Just start
I know. You’re probably reading this and thinking “WELL, DUH. If I could just start then I wouldn’t be reading this page right now.”
But so many of us have this little perfectionist voice telling us we need to have all our ducks in a row before we can even begin to declutter.
And sometimes, to get past that little voice, we just have to grab a grocery bag and start putting stuff in it.
No preparation. No fleet of boxes with labels.
Just you and a plastic bag. Or a paper bag. Or whatever works.
Go for it!
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