– 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.
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
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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 with your decluttering journey
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 with 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 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 house reasonably clutter-free (I don’t think I will ever be 100% free of clutter piles; my creative mind likes a current project stack or two), I set the goal of filling up one 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 feel 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 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 how to successfully declutter helps. Here are a 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 partway 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 was very touched by the message in this book. 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 their 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 dull!
Solution: Try 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 consistently one inch at a time.)
More posts on decluttering & cleaning:
- A Little Known Tool That Can Make Tough Cleaning Jobs Disappear
- The BIG Decluttering Question: Resell It Or Toss It? A How-To Decided Guide
- Why The Tiny House Movement Has Me Wanting To Purge Deeper
Feel like you would love to get rid of the stress your cluttered home is causing you, but you simply don’t know how you could squeeze time to declutter into your already cram-packed life?
I recommend taking Make Over Your Mornings and/or Make Over Your Evenings.
To get a taste of the information, these two courses have to offer, sign up for this FREE 5-day email series “5 Days To A Better Morning,” which was also created by Crystal Paine.
The information I learned in the Make Over Your Evenings course gave me 30 minutes every morning without getting up earlier.
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I like your idea of listening to something while you do the work. I find home tasks tedious so I like to give my mind something to chew on while working. Thanks for the good suggestions!
You are welcome.
Andria Fort says
Hi, Although I am moving to a Tiny Home in the near future I am having trouble getting started. I am going to try your suggestions and for today I will just start.
I especially like the take a photo method and have just snapped some before photos. I will keep you posted.
Once you get started it can get addicting. I fill an average of a box a month now of stuff. Open space feels great!
bev bruce says
I want to start, but I freeze at the thought of getting rid of expensive gifts like Royal Dolton figurines my parents have given me though the years. I don’t want them or even display them. I’m going to ask my kids to get take them away. But I know they really don’t want them. How can I part with my kids school art projects?
Kids art is hard. I give myself one tote for the best pieces and will snap photos with my smartphone of others before parting with them. And yes knick nacks with value and given by loved ones are hard to get rid of. I always try and think that they will find there way somehow to a home where they will be treasured and valued more than they are at my home.
I love the idea of before and after pics. Will be a motivating factor for sure. I need to retrain my mind. Stop saying “well I’m going to do ‘this project and I need it for that”. That project never comes but I still have the stuff. Past party supplies thrown in basement. The fill a box and pic ideas are my motivators now.
Yes, pictures of before and after are a great motivation. YOU CAN DO IT!
I love the idea of snapping pics of kids artwork… Letters and school stuff… Now put them in a digital photo album.😀