We've all been there at one point or another: your house is a complete mess and you don't know where to begin. You're overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clutter in your home, but you just can't seem to get motivated enough to start decluttering.
I'm here to tell you that it is possible to get your house in order. It's not going to happen overnight, but if you take small steps every day, you can declutter your home and regain control of your life.
If you’ve been procrastinating on a home decluttering project, chances are the reason behind your hesitation is feeling overwhelmed or just not knowing where to start. Those things can trip anyone up on the road to organization. When you find yourself stuck in a pattern of avoidance, the best method to change that pattern is to start with small tasks. Even doing just one little thing is progress.
Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff?
Too much clutter can be overwhelming. Sometimes, you wonder where it all came from and how you let it get to this point. And you're too tired and busy to do anything about it anyway.
Take a breath and relax. Decluttering doesn't happen overnight, just like the clutter didn't happen overnight. You need to take it one step at a time, and you can do that today!
You don't have to do everything at once. And you don't have to spend a lot of money or hire someone else to get the job done. You can do it and I'm going to share some small decluttering steps you can do today to get started!
Over time, decluttering will become easier and more manageable.
Why We Get Overwhelmed by Clutter
The most common reason is because we see so many things that we want to do and become overwhelmed. We have a very real habit of looking at the big picture instead of breaking it down into smaller sections.
We also get overwhelmed by the fact that we have a limited amount of time and energy. Life is busy and clutter adds to this.
- is inherited,
- is expensive,
- can be embarrassing
- can lead to anxiety.
- can be a sign of guilt or insecurity.
- can snowball into a bigger problem.
- can take over everyday life.
Clutter can also cause us to lose things and make it hard for us to find things when we need them.
Understand that decluttering isn't just physical—it's emotional too.
Decluttering isn't just physical, it's emotional too. But why?
Well, how many times have you thought of getting rid of something only to say to yourself ‘so and so gave me this, I need to keep it' or ‘this reminds me of ___, I can't let it go'. I know I've done this myself. I've held onto mementos of my grandparents because I ‘thought' I'd lose the memories if I let the item go.
So, as you declutter, you need to prepare yourself for some emotional moments.
Remind yourself that the memories will always be there, even without the item. They're not attached to the item, they're attached to you.
There is a very real emotional side to being overwhelmed by clutter, but you can overcome it.
10 Tiny Steps You Can Do Today
To help you along your way, consider these tiny decluttering steps you can take today. If you were to repeat them daily, or even weekly, you'd be amazed at how much lighter and less cluttered your life would feel.
What are you waiting for? Let's get started!
Clear Just One Surface
Clear your kitchen table.
If that’s too overwhelming, choose a segment of your countertop. Make it a surface you see daily, and be sure to keep it spotless.
Clearing just one surface can make a big difference in your day.
If you have a sink full of dishes, open the dishwasher and put away what’s clean. If there are dirty dishes in the sink, wash them as you go.
It doesn’t matter how small the task. Start with what’s right in front of you, and keep going until it’s done.
Empty a Shelf
Now that you have a surface cleared that you will see every day to provide you motivation, you can move on to another small task.
Empty just one shelf, clean it and only put back what you use.
Ask yourself what's fitting for in that room.
If it's in the kitchen, designate it to hold only glasses or spices.
In the living room, perhaps books or the electronics remotes are fitting for the shelf.
Remember to continue to keep it neat.
Tomorrow, pick another shelf.
Designate a Paper Zone
Nothing accumulates and gets out of control like papers. Designate an area as a catchall for your paperwork, and always place new papers in that drawer or box.
Mail is the big one in this household. We use a mail holder on the wall and it's separated for each household member.
Make it a point to go through your paper drawer or box once a week to shred or toss what's not needed.
Find Homes for 5 Things
We all have a few items that never seem to get put away. Carefully choose your five most commonly left-out items, and find special places to store them.
Shoes, books, magazines, remotes…whatever it is.
Designate the places these 5 things will go and make sure they get put away daily. Don't forget to share the new locations for these items with your household members, as well!
Donate Three Pieces of Clothing
Clothes are often the worst to declutter. If you're anything like me, you have a closet full of ‘oh, I might wear that someday' items.
Choose just three pieces to give away or toss each day while getting ready. Don't put a lot of thought into it or you will second guess yourself. Pick items that you haven't worn in a while first.
Soon you’ll have a bag full and your closet will look more organized. What a great way to keep from getting overwhelmed by clutter.
After you've pared down your closet, check out the idea of a capsule wardrobe. It may be just the thing for you!
Dump One Drawer
Pick just one drawer in your home to declutter. Then dump it out.
This lets you see everything at a glance and makes the sorting process easier.
If the drawer is in the kitchen, decide what you want it to hold. Silverware or cooking utensils, baking tools, etc. Make this drawer for only those items.
If it's in your dresser, is it for socks and undergarments? Remove all that doesn't fit what will be in the drawer from your pile. Neatly put away what stays.
Find a new home for everything that doesn't belong in that drawer now.
Organize Your Medicines
Medicine, bandages and other health supplies should be kept together. Tackle just your medicine cabinet, creating a neat and tidy place to keep the up-to-date items you use most regularly.
Toss all old and expired health supplies. Gather all expired medicines to dispose of properly. In the US, you can find the Drug Take-Back Program locations in your area here.
Don't just throw medications in your trash. Throwing medicines in the garbage is not safe – especially for controlled substances like OxyContin, narcotics and other highly addictive and dangerous drugs – because the drugs can be found and used by others, even if they are mixed with undesirable materials like coffee grounds or kitty litter.
Create a Simple File System
Remember that paper zone?
Soon it will overflow.
Designate just a few file folders or an accordion binder to hold your most common categories of paperwork. Then sort through the documents in your tray to file them quickly in their place.
Suzie Orman has a great resource that tells you how long to hold onto important paperwork, too.
As time passes, make sure to shred documents you don't need anymore. This way you keep your information safe while disposing of unneeded clutter.
Take That Bin to the Car
Once you have a few tiny tasks underway, you’ll likely end up with a sizeable amount of stuff to donate.
Take the bag or box out to your car to deliver to the thrift shop. Most areas have second hand/consignment stores that will resell your gently used items for a portion of the profit, allowing you to make a little back on decluttering.
The items that aren't resell worthy, make sure you get them in the trash.
See how easy it is to get rid of stuff?
Picture Your Finished Room
These small decluttering tasks are adding up. You're starting to see how your home could look as you keep completing these steps.
Take a look around and picture how your room might look when completely pared down and organized.
Visualization is a powerful motivator.
Think about your home all organized and the family gathered for game night. Or having coworkers or friends over for dinner. Clutter keeps us from doing these things, more often than not.
Rinse and Repeat
Taking small decluttering steps is easy. Not only will you start to see progress around your home, it will have a positive impact on your mindset. The benefits of decluttering are huge, and you are going to see them in your life.
You'll stop being overwhelmed by clutter and start to enjoy your home more.
It's a good feeling! Soon you’ll be on your way to big life changes.
Do you have a question about decluttering?
I'd love to help. Leave me a comment and I'll respond as soon as possible.