How to Start Decluttering When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

We are talking about decluttering and how to start decluttering when overwhelmed. I am going to give you my top three decluttering tips so that you can feel successful in your decluttering efforts without the overwhelm.

I'm going to be giving these entire tips that you can implement right away to tackle those decluttering projects in your home.

Let's go ahead and dive in. As you guys know, I am a professional organizer, so I get to declutter with all of the clients that I work with. Here's what I want you to pay attention to before we start this entire decluttering extravaganza. I want you to adjust the way you think about decluttering, editing, and purging.

Those words are synonymous. But here's the thing. You must think you are creating space when thinking about decluttering or editing. It's not about getting rid of what you love, use, and need. It's not about that.

It's really about creating space for the things that you absolutely love. So once you have come to terms with the idea of purging, editing, or decluttering, it's a little bit easier to get through the process again without overwhelm and feel like you made some progress with your actions.

How to declutter by starting small

1. Start small

The first tip when it comes to decluttering without overwhelm is to start small. So you won't set aside an entire weekend for 5 hours to tackle your garage or your massive walk-in pantry. That's not what we're doing. 

I want you to start with a small space that will not automatically overwhelm you when you walk in there. 

So start with something like a small closet or a junk drawer. These are more manageable decluttering projects and will not make you panic. Where people go wrong if they start too big, they haven't built up their endurance to declutter.

They haven't really developed any type of decluttering process. And they set aside too much time for a big, big project. Then they get overwhelmed, quit prematurely, or never finish the project. That's where people go wrong. 

But you're not going to mess up there because you know you are going to start small. If you're not used to decluttering, you must build up your muscle endurance.

It's kind of like working out. When you go to the gym for the first time, your body will feel really sore and you may not want to go back because you haven't built up the endurance.

Same thing with decluttering. When you start decluttering projects, it's really important to start small to build up your endurance to get to those bigger projects. So the same concept applies to working out to decluttering. 

What I like to work on with my clients are called mini wind cycles. The whole concept behind many wind cycles is that you are decluttering small projects at a time to develop a wind cycle. So you feel really good about the progress you've made over that decluttering process. 

Then over time, you develop more and more of these mini wind cycles until you get to those bigger decluttering projects in your home and feel like you can manage those projects. You have the endurance built up and you feel more confident that you can be successful and that you will be successful. 

How to start decluttering when you're overwhelmed

2. Be ruthless

The second tip concerning decluttering your home without the overwhelm, is that you must be absolutely ruthless. I often see people creating these hypothetical situations as to why they have to keep certain things in their homes.

Things like, if I go to this party, then I'll have this white dress, but then you have five white dresses. Those are hypothetical situations where you really don't need to keep certain things in your home. 

You have to be ruthless. So here's my hack to help you get through this decluttering project without the hypotheticals. Establish rules before you start decluttering anything in your small space.

So let's just say, for instance, you are tackling a drawer in your kitchen and it has all of your utensils, but you come across five spatulas. I want you to have a rule already established before you start decluttering that if you come across duplicates, you're going to keep the best and you're going to donate the rest.

Or if it's broken, you'll automatically trash or recycle it.

These are the types of rules you can establish before decluttering that will help you overcome the hypothetical and get to do different things in the spaces you're organizing more quicker. Again, without the overwhelm.

Setting a time limit

3. Set a time limit

The last tip, and probably my favorite tip that I will share with you as it pertains to how to start decluttering when overwhelmed, is to establish a time limit. All you need is 30 minutes. You don't need to dedicate 5 hours or an entire weekend to decluttering a small space. 

30 minutes a day will get you far and it's going to help you overcome the overwhelm that you may have because you feel like you have to spend too much time decluttering. It’s going to help you get those mini wind cycles that I was talking about earlier.

So set a timer for 30 minutes, and if 30 minutes feels too long for you, maybe set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes. It doesn't matter. But the point is to set a timer, declutter a small space, and get through it. That is the goal. 

Remember that these tips are going to help you do this process successfully without feeling the overwhelm that you may have felt before when you try to declutter. Decluttering is a process that can yield great rewards.  

How to start decluttering when you're overwhelmed

I'm hoping you found these three tips helpful in learning how to start decluttering when overwhelmed. What small projects will you take on to develop your mini wind cycles? Leave a comment below to share your plans and triumphs.

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 1 comment
  • Maria Maria on Sep 18, 2023

    Ooops, you just reminded me that i have got rid of stuff for about a month now, it is almost 9 pm now, so tomorrow should be a good day to look around the house because it will be raining