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3 Tips for How to Declutter When Overwhelmed

We know it's hard figuring out how to declutter when overwhelmed. Luckily, there are three easy tips you can follow to make the process simpler.


Avi Hopkins

August 7, 2020

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For a lot of people, feeling the need to declutter is linked to feeling overwhelmed by the contents of their home. These two things going hand and hand is entirely natural.

As we’ve said before, decluttering is an emotional process. The items you’re trying to get rid of likely have some degree of sentimental value. Couple this emotional burden with the physical exertion that comes with decluttering, and it makes sense that people fall into despair. When you feel unsure of how to declutter when overwhelmed like this, remember these 3 tips:

1. Break things down (and then do that again and again)

The idea that you’re going to declutter your entire house in one go is understandably intimidating. That’s why you should never expect yourself to do it! When approaching any decluttering project, you need to think small before you think big.

Start by picking one room in your house. Since even that can be too much to handle, then pick one container to declutter, be it a desk or a wardrobe. Then, if possible, pick one drawer or section of that too! Once you’ve decluttered that small section, you can then move onto the next one and the next one. Before you know it, you’ll have made it through an entire room.

2. Take it one item at a time

It's best to take things one at a time to get some momentum on your decluttering (while still addressing the emotional value of each item). Assess each item you're decluttering based on how it fits into your why for decluttering. Is it connected to a family story? Will you have space for it in your new home?

Once you’ve figured out its place within your why, you can decide what happens to it. Whether you’re keeping it, donating it, selling it, or throwing it away, it’s important that each item lands in a category. Not only does this give it a new physical home, but it also gives it a new home within your decluttering project. The more you sort individual items into categories, the easier it is to manage the overall clutter of the space.

3. Remember: It’s not all or nothing

Even after you’ve broken things down and started sorting through items one at a time, it remains true that decluttering is a massive undertaking. Oftentimes, you’re taking a long, hard look at a life’s worth of possessions. And that life might not even be yours! It’s easy to lose focus, or get distracted or pulled away by life’s other obligations. Even if this happens, it’s important not to lose hope!

If you have to hit pause for a day, a week, or month at a time, the progress you’ve made doesn’t go away. Each item that passed through your decluttering process is one less item that’s overwhelming you. This is also something to keep in mind as you’re in the middle of decluttering and start to feel discouraged. No matter the pace you’re moving at, you’re making progress, and that’s the most important part of decluttering.

We know how hard it can be to declutter when overwhelmed.

However, with these three things in mind, you can toughen up your decluttering nerve and use it to power through any projects you take on. Whenever you start a new room or think that things in your current plan are getting out of control, we urge you to return to these 3 tips. Once you get the fundamentals down, the rest is a breeze.

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