How To Declutter When Overwhelmed: Steps to Regain Control

How to declutter when overwhelmed


How to Declutter When Overwhelmed: Simple Steps to Regain Control

When I think about decluttering, I can easily become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. It’s not just the physical act of sorting through my belongings but also the emotional weight each item can carry. 

I’ve found that recognizing this emotional aspect is the first step to tackling the clutter. It’s okay to feel attached to our possessions, but acknowledging the stress of excess can be liberating. 

With each decluttering session, the goal is to create a serene space that reflects a more organized mindset.

I always believe in starting with manageable small sections to avoid being swamped by the task at hand.

By choosing one drawer or a single shelf, the process feels less intimidating. I set a timer for a short period, like 20 minutes, and focus solely on that task. This technique transforms a mountain of tasks into small, achievable goals. 

It’s about making progress, rather than aiming for perfection, and each small victory encourages me to keep going.

The journey to a clutter-free space is more than just tidying up; it’s about paving the way for a calmer, more stress-free environment where I can think clearly and feel at peace. 

As I work through each area, I remind myself why I’m doing this – to create a home that feels like a sanctuary, not a storage unit. 

The sense of accomplishment that comes with each cleared space is my motivation to continue the decluttering journey, no matter how overwhelmed I might feel at the start.

So take a deep breath and let’s get started!


Understanding Your Relationship With Clutter

Before we start the decluttering task, it’s essential to recognize that decluttering is not just a physical act, but an emotional journey as well.

The things in our day-to-day life have significance and attachment to us. Our possessions can affect our well-being and mental health.


Identifying Emotional Attachment

My relationship with the items that fill my space reveals more than just a preference for material things. It often stems from deep emotional connections.

For example, sentimental items can stir memories, leading to a belief that by holding onto them, I’m preserving important parts of my life. I’ve learned to ask myself, Is the emotional value I’m assigning to this object truly reflective of its importance in my life? This reflection helps me discern whether my attachment is a source of joy or just unnecessary baggage.

organize with kids


Recognizing The Impact of Stuff

The impact of clutter on my life is heavy—anxiety heightens when I’m surrounded by chaos, and guilt creeps in when I consider getting rid of things I once valued.

Recognizing that my surroundings affect my mental and emotional peace has been a game-changer. By consciously evaluating how each object in my space makes me feel, I can determine its true influence. Only then can I make decisions that are based on my current lifestyle and goals.


The Psychology Behind Accumulation

Understanding why I accumulate things requires reflection on my beliefs and fears around possessions. Am I holding onto items because of a fear of scarcity, or do they represent a sense of security for me? Dissecting the psychology behind my collecting habits allows me to confront the root of my emotional attachment and practice letting go.

This doesn’t just clear my physical space but also paves the way for mental clarity and a freer, lighter existence.

There are a lot of decluttering methods out there! Click here to read about all the different ways to declutter.


Simple Decluttering Tips & Preparation Before Decluttering

Before I dive into the thick of decluttering, it’s vital for me to have a strategy in place. This helps me stay focused and prevents the process from becoming more overwhelming.

Let’s break down the declutter plan into manageable steps.


Creating a Decluttering Plan

When I approach decluttering, I start by crafting a plan of action. I list out each room or area I aim to tackle, estimate how much time I think each space will take, and decide in what order I’ll address them. This serves as my roadmap and gives me a clear schedule to follow. It’s like setting an appointment with each room.

Click here to read How to Declutter a Room in 30 Minutes


Setting Realistic Goals for a Clutter-free Home

I always ensure my goals are realistic. Decluttering an entire house in one weekend might be more than I can handle, so I set attainable targets, like one room per week. This strategy of mindful goal-setting keeps me motivated and helps me to maintain hope without feeling discouraged.

capsule wardrobe pants

Deciding on Decluttering Sessions

For the actual decluttering sessions, I’m deliberate about timing. I set timers for short bursts of work—perhaps 30 minutes to an hour. This not only fosters a sense of urgency but also allows me to see consistent progress. I’m more likely to keep up with my plan when I know there’s a defined end in sight for each session.


Getting Started With Decluttering

Starting the process of decluttering can be daunting, especially when the mess seems unmanageable. I’ve found that by taking baby steps and focusing on bite-sized progress, it’s possible to gain momentum and create lasting change.

Good habits around decluttering and waiting to buy new things will help you to get through the decluttering journey.  

Start the habit of decluttering at least one thing each day and waiting before making a purchase.  Those two things have helped me tremendously when it comes to avoiding overwhelm.


The Power of Starting Small

When I feel overwhelmed, I start small. It’s surprising how choosing one drawer or clearing out just a few items from the closet can instantly make me feel like I’ve made progress. I always remind myself that decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint, and every little step counts.

A little bit goes a long way! 

closet declutter


Focusing on One Area at a Time

I once read about the importance of organizing one room at a time, and it’s made a huge difference in handling clutter. I’ll pick a specific area—like my home office or the kitchen—and devote my energy there before moving on.

This approach helps to streamline the process and prevents the task from becoming overwhelming.  Try to fill a laundry basket with things you don’t need and once that is gone see if you can fill it again.


Organizing After You Declutter

As items find their way out of my space, I take the time to organize what’s left. This isn’t just about making things look nice; it’s about creating systems that make it easier for me to maintain a clutter-free space.

Whether it’s installing shelves in the closet to sort clothes or using containers to group similar items together, organizing is the secret sauce to keeping the mess at bay.

Well that and a decluttering habit! Get into the habit of decluttering all the time.  As soon as you realize you no longer use an item get rid of it.


Tackling The Decluttering Process

When I start feeling bogged down by clutter, I focus on immediate, manageable tasks for early success. It’s about gaining confidence and momentum. Here’s my approach to sorting through the chaos.


Simple Steps for Quick Wins

I begin with easy things first to score quick wins. This may include discarding any outdated medicines or pantry items. I set a timer for 20 minutes and tackle a small project, like clearing off a single shelf or a table. My rule of thumb is if I haven’t used something in the past year and could replace it for under $20 within 20 minutes (the 20/20 rule), it’s okay to let it go. This technique lifts my mood as I visibly see progress, encouraging me to continue.


Dealing With Sentimental Items

Sentimental items can be tough. I try to limit keepsakes to a designated area, like a single box or shelf space.

If I’m hesitant about letting go, I’ll take a photo of the item to preserve the memory without the physical clutter.

However, I don’t rush this process; I give myself permission to reflect on the memories associated with these items before deciding their fate.

The good news is decluttering is not a race and you can take your time.  Here is more information about how to declutter sentimental items.


When to Consider Donating or Selling

I believe in the power of donations to both declutter my space and benefit others. Clothes I haven’t worn or books I won’t re-read make great candidates for charitable giving.

If something holds significant value and I’m ready to part with it, selling can be a smart move.

I use platforms like eBay or a local Facebook selling group, ensuring my pre-loved items find a new home while I gain back some space—and sometimes a bit of cash, too.

Just keep in mind that selling things can take a lot of time and slow down your progress.  If you are looking for a quick win donating items is a great way to quickly see results in your home.


Maintaining a Decluttered Space

Once I’ve decluttered my home, keeping it that way becomes the next challenge. I focus on establishing solid routines, incorporating minimalist habits, and embracing mindful purchasing practices to ensure my space remains organized and serene.

Read: 21 Minimalist Habits That Changed Everything!


Establishing a Declutter Routine

I find it crucial to set up a daily and weekly maintenance routine to prevent clutter from piling up again. Each morning, I dedicate 10 minutes to a quick tidy-up session where I make my bed, put dishes away, and clear any items from my countertops.

On a weekly basis, I allot an hour to review each room for any misplaced items and restore order. My routine checklist looks something like this:

  • Morning:
    • Make bed
    • Wash any dishes
    • Quick countertop sweep
  • Daily
    • Sort mail and paperwork as it arrives
  • Weekly:
    • Collect Items I don’t need and put them in Basket to be donated
    • Reorganize any displaced items
    • Dust all flat surfaces
    • Clean floors and bathrooms
  • Monthly:
    • Deep clean and declutter one room or area
    • Evaluate items for possible decluttering
    • Drop off all donations


Exploring Minimalist Habits

Adopting minimalist habits involves more than just owning fewer things. For me, it means prioritizing quality over quantity and making sure everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy.

I regularly review my belongings and ask myself if I’ve used them recently or if they contribute positively to my life. This habit helps me avoid accumulating unnecessary items and keeps my home orderly.  

Remember our homes are not a storage space but rather a living space.


Embracing Mindful Purchasing

Mindful purchasing is all about being intentional with what I bring into my home. Before buying anything new, I ask myself a series of questions:

  1. Do I really need this item?
  2. Do I have something similar that already serves the same purpose?
  3. Is it high-quality and long-lasting?
  4. Where will I store it in my home?

I also wait at least 24 hours before finalizing a purchase to ensure it’s not an impulse buy. This approach significantly reduces clutter and supports my mindful decluttering philosophy.

The last thing I want to do is add more clutter as I am trying to declutter.


Big Picture

When I tackle decluttering, I think it’s vital to consider not just the task but also the unique dynamics of my home and my loved ones. This means figuring out how to make the most of small spaces, getting family and friends on board, and creating systems for managing kids’ items.

I think about what we use in our daily life and avoid that overwhelming feeling by decluttering one section at a time the whole house decluttering is not for me! 


Managing Small Spaces Efficiently

In my experience, decluttering a small space can be both challenging and rewarding. My first step is often to maximize storage; I use vertical space with shelves and hooks to keep the floor clear. For example, over-the-door organizers can hold many items without taking up precious square footage.

I find it essential to focus on one zone at a time, which prevents me from feeling overwhelmed and ensures that every inch is utilized thoughtfully.


Involving Family and Friends

Decluttering isn’t a solo mission for me; involving family members and friends can make the process more enjoyable and less daunting.

I set aside time to work with my partner or a friend to help sort items, turning it into a social event. This way, decisions on what to keep become clearer and more affirmative because I have immediate feedback. Plus, it’s a chance to create memories even as we’re simplifying our living space.


Creating a System for Kids’ Items

Children outgrow their toys and clothes quickly, so I’ve found that keeping up with a system is crucial. I use clear bins with labels to categorize kids’ items, and I involve them in the process of sorting and donating.

This not only teaches them valuable organizational skills but also makes them part of the decision-making. It’s a win-win: their spaces stay tidy, and they learn about letting go and giving to others.


Addressing Procrastination and Motivation

I often notice procrastination sneaking in when I’m supposed to start decluttering. To combat this, I set a timer for 20 minutes and begin with a small, manageable area.

It’s an actionable strategy that keeps me focused and prevents overwhelm.

The incremental progress fuels my motivation, turning what seemed like an insurmountable task into a series of achievable victories.


Done is Better Than Perfect

Perfection can be paralyzing for me. I’ve learned that aiming for progress, not perfection, allows me to move forward without getting stuck.

To overcome this, I prioritize decluttering in stages, accepting that the first pass isn’t about achieving a flawless space, but more about making noticeable improvements. This mindset shift has relieved the pressure and improved my mood significantly during the process.


Handling Post-Declutter Anxiety

Once the clutter is gone, the echoes of emptiness can stir up anxiety. I remind myself that it’s a natural reaction to new, open spaces.

To ease this feeling, I create a simple, organized layout of the items I’ve decided to keep, ensuring each one has a designated place. This helps solidify the change and reinforces the benefits of my efforts, ultimately transforming fear into a sense of accomplishment.


Utilizing External Resources

Sometimes the task of decluttering can feel so daunting that it’s tough to know where to start or how to proceed. When I reach that point, I find that turning to external resources can provide just the support and direction I need.


When to Hire a Professional Organizer

If you are really struggling it might be time to hire a professional organizer. These experts not only help sort through the physical clutter, but also teach strategies to maintain an organized space.

Whether it’s a messy pantry, an overflowing cabinet, or a wardrobe that’s bursting at the seams, a professional organizer can transform chaos into order.


Finding the Right Donation and Recycling Outlets

Once I’ve decided what to let go of, especially items that are sentimental or still useful, I look for the right places to donate or recycle them. It’s my way of making the decluttering process feel productive and positive. Here’s my approach:

  • Donations: I research local charities and choose those that align with my values and can benefit from my items.
  • Recycling: For items that aren’t fit for donation, like old electronics or paper clutter, finding dedicated recycling centers is key.

This step not only helps the environment and community but also gives me a sense of closure and accomplishment.

Read More About Decluttering:

Minimalist Hacks

How to Declutter Sentimental Items

Minimalist Habits

Where is the first place to declutter?

The Best Way to Declutter a Room in 30 Minutes

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