How To Start Decluttering When You Feel Overwhelmed


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Clutter piles to the left of you, clutter piles to the right, piles in front and behind. They are everywhere!

You want to deal with your clutter once and for all, but you are simply overwhelmed by how big of a job you have in front of you.

How To Start Decluttering When You Feel Overwhelmed.

I have so been right where you are. After I lost my parents I spent about a year in a fog where I just let clutter piles get out of control. When grief lifted, it was overwhelming to look at all those piles.

How To Start Decluttering When You Feel Overwhelmed

Just start!

I want you to repeat those two words above with me-just start. In fact, do something even better: write them on several post it notes and scatter them around your home in places where you will see them day after day.

What you are struggling with is a form of anxiety and the only way to make it go away is to start getting rid of the source–the clutter.

How to get started

1. Make a Plan That Suits You

Don’t pick the 15 minute a day decluttering plan because some blogger you have been following is having great success at it if you know that dealing with clutter even for just 15 minutes a day isn’t going to work with your personality or schedule.

Take some time and really think about what method of decluttering would work for you.

For me it was dividing up my home into 52 different areas and attacking one area a week for an entire year. The next year, to keep my home fairly clutter free (I don’t think I will ever be 100% free of clutter piles; my creative mind likes a current project pile or two) I set the goal of filling up 1 box with things to give away each month.

These simple goals worked for me, but they might not work for you. Take a few moments to think of a plan that you think will help you get started and if you find that you just hate it when you do–pick another. Eventually you should stumble on a decluttering system that works for your personality, but don’t let not knowing what will work stop you from trying.

Choose a plan and dig in.

2. Find Motivation

What will motivate you to start and keep decluttering ?

Inviting people over to your home so that you have a set deadline to deal with your stuff?

Posting pictures of uncluttered spaces you love on your fridge?

For me, reading books on decluttering really helps. here are few of my favorites:

Lose 250 Pounds This Weekend: An oldie but a goody. This book helped me get rid of 3 truck loads of stuff over one weekend more than 16 years ago. I found it so motivating that I had to put it down part way through and just get started–I could not wait a minute more.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own: I recently read this book and was very touched by its message. It helped me fill my box of the month in one afternoon. It has also inspired me to try a new decluttering challenge or two in the months to come. (of course if they work I will share them here on the blog)

31 Days To A Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind & Schedule: If you want someone to hold your hand and help you declutter each room step by step this book is for you. However, don’t believe the 31 day part–only a rare person is going to be able to get rid of the clutter in then home within a month. Chances are you didn’t collect it all in a month and therefore it is going to take more than a month to get rid of it all. 

3. Find Your Grit and Dig In

I wrote an entire post about how to stick to decluttering even when you don’t feel like it you can read it here.

Basically you need to dig deep and keep going until it is done.

Decluttering is going to be boring at first–painfully boring!

 SolutionTry listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks to pass the time.

When you begin decluttering it is going to feel like you are getting nowhere!

 Solution: Snap a picture before you dig in and then another when  you are done for that day; it will motivate you to continue.

It is going to be worth it.  Repeat that over and over because it is true.

I am so glad I stuck to 52 weeks of constant decluttering and that I have tossed a box of stuff a month this year. My home is feeling more and more bright and airy and wonderfully un-stressful. I don’t cringe when people come over unannounced anymore. I am not moving a pile from here to there--okay, I still do this sometimes if I am in the middle of a project.

So one more time…

Repeat after me: JUST START!

(psst…Gain support in my Snail Pace Clutter Removers Facebook group where we are dealing with our clutter on a consistent basis one inch at a time.)

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