Inside: It can be a challenge to get started with decluttering. Use these tips when you’re overwhelmed with decluttering and need some guidance on where to begin.

Have you wanted to declutter but look around and have no idea where to start? Decluttering can feel like an overwhelming task.

And sometimes, taking the first step is the most challenging.

In this post, I’ll share seven helpful tips for when you’re overwhelmed with decluttering. If you’ve been feeling paralyzed by the mess, these are for you.

Remember that it took years to accumulate the stuff and it is not likely to get resolved overnight. Decluttering and simplifying is a process. Start today by making small strides toward your goal.

7 Tips for When You’re Overwhelmed With Decluttering:

These seven steps will help you when you’re overwhelmed with decluttering. They will help you to take action and begin making progress.

when you're overwhelmed with decluttering

1. Set a goal

It’s hard to get to where you want to go if you don’t know where that is. Before you start decluttering, get clear on your goals and why they are important to you.

Motivation doesn’t always come easily so it’s necessary to have the end goal with the accompanying benefits in mind to keep you going. Know where you are headed and remind yourself what you are working toward.

2. Make a plan

Once you have your goal in mind, the next step is to create a plan. There are various methods for decluttering your entire home so pick the one that resonates best with you and your home.

Get the Declutter Plan of Attack worksheet to create a room by room plan for decluttering your home. Having a written guide makes the process easier as you’ve already planned out your next step.

when you're overwhelmed with decluttering

Start small

You didn’t bring all of your belongings into your home in one day, so it isn’t reasonable to plan to declutter everything in one day either. Often overwhelm is due to the sheer perceived size of the project.

It’s tempting to shut down at the thought of the mountain ahead. Don’t look at the mountain. Instead, focus on taking the first step.

To gain a bit of momentum, start with a smaller defined space. It could be a drawer, shelf, or countertop. Sign up below to get the free Your Home Decluttered Jumpstart which includes a list of 100 easy-to-declutter items and 12 high-impact areas that you can declutter quickly.

They’re also great to do later on in the process if you’ve gotten tired of working in a particular space. Quick wins give you a jump start toward making additional progress.

3. Progress, not perfection

Focus on the progress you are making as you go. There is no ‘right’ way to declutter. It isn’t a one size fits all process where everyone ends up with the same result. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Your goals will be yours and yours alone so remain focused on your action plan.

The goal is to make progress bit by bit. You’re not aiming for perfection. Keep the momentum up but don’t get bogged down with trying to make everything perfect.

Better is good enough. You can always go back and declutter more later if you want. Perfection is the enemy of progress.

4. Get an accountability partner

It’s helpful to have an encouraging partner in your corner. Find a friend who is also working in their home so you can keep each other accountable and on track. It could also just be someone who is willing to check in with you and cheer you on.

When it comes to the most difficult areas in your home, have a trusted friend join you in the process. Someone who will be kind, but honest with you. It’s beneficial to have backup when you are going through your clothes and need a second opinion.

When you’re overwhelmed with decluttering, a friend can also be helpful when you’re working on items that you have a stronger attachment to but want to declutter. Go ahead and phone a friend.

5. Make it fun

Decluttering (like cleaning) shouldn’t all be serious business. Turn on your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook. It will feel less like work when you are listening to something you enjoy.

If you’re competitive (like me), turning it into a challenge by racing against the timer to see how much you can get done in a limited period of time works well.

6. Complete your tasks

Clutter often exists due to tasks not being completed. When items are not put away, they become clutter. It is tempting to leave items out and tell ourselves it will be there for a very brief amount of time until we are done with the task.

However, these delayed tasks are what‘s causing the clutter in the first place.

Once you have finished decluttering any size area, complete the process by throwing items in the boxes designated for garbage, recycling, donate, or sell.

Decluttering isn’t done until everything you’re keeping has been put away and everything you aren’t has gone to its new home. Trust me on this one…you won’t feel the sense of accomplishment that you want if you’ve only done the decluttering part, but not completed the task.

7. Celebrate your accomplishments

Did you declutter a drawer yesterday? Yay, you! Now go open that drawer and look in it to admire and appreciate your work. Motivation builds on itself so when you see progress being made it helps you want to continue putting in the effort.

Celebrate your wins and plan rewards along the way. That could be getting a coffee at Starbucks or drink a cup of tea and read. Whatever works for you!

Consider inviting friends over to see your progress. There is nothing more motivating than inviting people over and the event will act as a self-imposed deadline. Just make sure you are realistic in your timing so that you don’t cause yourself to be overwhelmed!

I hope you’ve found these seven tips for when you’re overwhelmed with decluttering to be helpful. Which one resonated the most with you? Share in the comments section đŸ™‚

Want to keep up to date on the latest Simplicity Habit information? Sign up below and also receive the Your Home Decluttered jumpstart!

Need more help with decluttering?

I created the Your Home Decluttered workbook to help walk you through the decluttering process. It includes sections on setting goals, creating your plan, checklists for each room type, celebrating your victories, assessing your habits, and making sure you reached your goals.

For further details on the workbook and to purchase, go here:

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  1. My home became cluttered when my health went downhill. I live alone in a very tiny apartment and Covid happened. We were forced to stay home and cocoon. Now everything is overwhelming. My daughter came and threw out $3,000 worth of pots from my deck. I used to be an avid gardener put can,t afford to replace my pots and my health won,t allow me to garden any longer. I used to keep my deck and floors so spotless I went around with white socks both inside and out. Now I can,t even shower my hair and dress myself. Someone comes once a day to dress me and do one thing for me it,s heartbreaking. My sister is angry at me as well as my daughter who hasn,t visited since last summer. She came here on November 15 th last year but wouldn,t come up to my apt. My mom,s celebration of life. It is sad as they see me as lazy and self centred.

  2. How do you get rid of stuff you paid good money for? I have posted on marketplace but it dosen’t seen to sell. i have a lot of collectables. and things that have cost a lit of money. besides i might use it some day:-(

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