15 Easy Ways To Start Decluttering When Feeling Overwhelmed


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Are you feeling overwhelmed by the clutter and mess in your home, and just don’t know how or where to start? You’re not alone. This article will take you through 15 easy tactics to feel a lot more stress free.

15 Simple Ways to Start Decluttering When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

If you want to tackle your clutter but always feel stressed by the very thought of the process, then you’re in exactly the right place.

Don’t for one second think that you’re alone with how you’re feeling – most of us are the same.

You see – clutter is a HUGE deal in most homes, and usually takes a while to get on top of.

As such, even knowing where to start seems like a huge decision.

You don’t want to lose motivation, or tackle something that won’t make a difference – so what happens? You procrastinate until you’ve run out of time.

And the clutter’s still there….

So – now is time to make a change – and to get it done!

Let’s face those stressful feelings head on with these top tips to help you start decluttering – EVEN IF YOU’RE FEELING OVERWHELMED BY THE WHOLE IDEA. 

Related: The 13 Negative Emotions Of Decluttering – And How To Overcome Them

#1 – Just get started!

I know, I know.

It’s easier said than done.

I really do appreciate that.

But we can overthink things, you know… and once you take the plunge and start moving, things tend to feel a little more manageable.

Weird but true!

Related: FREE QUIZ – How Organised Are You? (And Where You Should Start…)

#2 – Start small

Your clutter has built up over time. Years probably. So you can’t expect to tackle everything in a day or two.

Give yourself the permission to do small projects around the house – and take it a step at a time.

Try a drawer, a section of a room, a shelf – anything really, as long as you’re decluttering!

Related: Where To Start Decluttering – 5 Fantastic Options To Try

#3 – Create a habit

Practise makes perfect – that’s the saying, isn’t it?

Well – I’m not going for perfect, but I do agree that practise is key.

You want to start making decluttering a habit – because then each and every decision you make about your stuff will slowly become easier and easier, and feel less overwhelming.

Struggling to see how to create the habit?

I would totally recommend starting small – with one thing a day. And the 365 challenge can help – just head over HERE to get started.

This is enough time to create a habit for most of us – and I’m sure that after you’ve done the challenge you’ll feel able to carry on, and your home will feel lighter already!

Related: 8 Easy Habits For A Clutter Free Home – Stay Tidy Easily!

#4 – Create a plan

Wherever you declutter (it could be a space, a room or your entire house), you will need a plan before you get started.

If you don’t plan just a little, then you will feel more overwhelmed because you won’t really know what you’re doing or what your goal is.

Things that I always suggest knowing before you start: –

  • Where will you take the clutter when you have it?
  • What time will you be able to declutter each day/week?
  • What kit do you need to make decluttering easy?
  • How will you tackle the space you are decluttering?
  • What is your definition of clutter?

#5 – Focus yourself

It doesn’t matter what you declutter, you need to focus on that and only that while you are doing it.

You can’t afford to think about the entire project because that really will overwhelm you and stop you in your tracks.

Always remember, you wouldn’t tackle redecorating your entire house in one go, would you!? – you’d likely pick a room that needs it the most, start there, complete that room and then move on to the next room.

That’s exactly how you need to declutter.

Top of ladies head with top knot in white hair band

#6 – Start in the place that will make the most difference

When you see results, and feel the benefits of what you’re doing – then you will automatically feel more motivated and energised to carry on the good work.

Feeling overwhelmed will be a thing of the past because you’ll start to love the process!

Great places to start are: –

  • Hallway – the room you see as soon as you come home and it set’s the scene for the rest of the house
  • Kitchenthe hub of the home and the room you use each and every day
  • Bedroom – to create calm so you can sleep better
  • Bathroom – it’s so much nicer to get ready each morning in a clutter free space (think: hotel!)

Basically – whatever is making you the most unhappy and will make the most immediate difference is where you should start.

(The exception here though is when that space is the most cluttered space in your home. If you try and tackle ‘that’ room first you will get bogged down in it, so go for the second most needed space if that’s the case).

#7 – Keep it short and sweet

Time yourself.


Set an oven timer for 5/10/15 minutes (whatever you can do), and then promise yourself that you can stop after this time.

Subconsciously this really helps because it’s such a short amount of time and we feel that we can do that easily.

Related: How To Declutter Fast – 15 Quick Ways That Really Work!

#8 – Do a rubbish amnesty

This is a great secret weapon that I love doing at the start of any big declutter – and that’s to get rid of the obvious rubbish first.

There is something very therapeutic about filling a bin bag full of rubbish and seeing a difference almost immediately to the space.

#9 – Create a calm place

If you’re tackling the whole house, then you need some respite. It WILL get messier before it gets better – that’s just how decluttering works.

But you do need to have somewhere to escape and recharge.

As such, I usually recommend making your bedroom a clutter free space as soon as possible in the process if at all possible.

This is the place you naturally need to relax – so make it a great space to be whenever you need a break.

#10 – Don’t worry about perfection

I need to take this to heart…

You see – perfect doesn’t exist. It really doesn’t.

If you’re overwhelmed because you think you can only start when you have time to get everything perfect then you’re in for a long wait.

Even those gorgeously curated pictures we see all over social media are staged. No doubt in my mind that behind the camera there’s a pile of stuff that’s been moved out of the way for the shot…

We all live in our homes – they are meant to be lived in – so don’t aim for perfect and remember that ANY DECLUTTERING IS PROGRESS.

Quote - done is better than perfect

#11 – Stop second guessing yourself

It can be really hard not to feel overwhelmed by the emotions that come with decluttering.

You know that you will be looking at everything you have – and making decision about it all.

That’s HUGE.

But you know your stuff better than anyone.

You know what’s right for you and what’s not.

So trust your gut – take the plunge – and believe in your decisions.

You’ll find that once you get started you’ll be making decisions more easily over time (ref. the Habit point #3).

#12 – Don’t force it

If you’re stressed because you feel you SHOULD declutter – or someone else is telling you to do so – then tread carefully.

You really can’t force yourself and you need to be ready for it to really work well.

Pressure will keep you feeling overwhelmed, but being motivated and inspired will make you able to get things done.

If you know deep down that you need to declutter – then look for motivation, hire a professional to help, get a friend on board – anything that will help you feel more ready to get this done…

#13 – Realise that this is a positive thing

A lot of the time we feel overwhelmed when we don’t want to do something.

That is usually a negative feeling – so in order to get over this feeling, we need to make it a positive.

The main thing that helps me is to remember that I am allowed to keep whatever I want! – I am NOT trying to deprive myself of my stuff, I’m trying to make it more easy to find that which I love and want to use each and every day.

Decluttering is simply taking items that don’t belong in a space and putting them in the space they belong (whether that be in your home or gone from your house) – so you are HELPING yourself rather than punishing.

Related: The Positive Thoughts on Decluttering That Will Change Everything!

#14 – Start with the end reward in mind

This is a really hard one when you feel totally out of your comfort zone and don’t know where to start – but think about how you will feel at the end of the day if you’ve achieved what you set out to do.

If you can clearly see where you are heading, that promise can be enough to make you get started.

… but if you need a little more encouragement, try setting a reward up for when you have finished!

#15 – Make it a nice experience

Decluttering is very physical work – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great way to spend your time when needed…

Here are some ways that you can make it much nicer, and therefore get you more motivated to get started: –

  • Play music that you love, or listen to an audiobook
  • Wear comfy clothes
  • Make the space smell nice (I like to use room spray as candles can be dangerous when your stuff is everywhere)
  • Have your favourite drink (tea, coffee, juice etc…) to hand, and a nice snack.

Still feeling overwhelmed?

I really hope not…

I’m sure that these tips and tactics will help you when you ever feel overwhelmed again.

There’s always one that stands out to me (usually a different one each time I look!) that I know will help the most depending on exactly how I’m feeling and what I’m trying to declutter.

For me, usually the most helpful way to get started is to write a list (#listsareawesome!) with a plan of action on, then put on some great music and comfy clothes, set a timer and just get going.

Which of these ways will you try first? I’d love to know – so please leave a comment below…

15 Simple Ways to Start Decluttering When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

And in the end, just remember that it’s a bit like exercise.

You know you need to do it, you don’t want to do it – you’re feeling overwhelmed – but you do it anyway – then after you’re done it feels A.MAY.ZING!

… maybe one day you’ll be able to say that you’re not overwhelmed at all by the thought of sorting out your home, and that you actually quite enjoy it.

I know I do – and I like exercise now as well – so anything’s possible!


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This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...


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