It’s not easy to know where to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed. Getting started in the decluttering process can be tricky. Especially if your house is already a mess! If you don’t know where to start decluttering, here are 10 tips to get moving in the right direction. Oftentimes, it’s just about finding a starting point and gaining momentum.
1 | Decide your timeline.
Write down how much time you have to declutter as well as how much time you will devote to decluttering each day. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 2 hours, anytime spent decluttering can help you make forward progress!
2 | Set a Deadline.
Related to a timeline, I recommend setting a deadline for decluttering. It will help to put a bit of positive pressure on you to keep moving forward.
It helps to have a deadline with many things in life. When it comes to decluttering, you have to create one. Both for the sake of working toward a goal and for the sake of closure and completion.
Set a deadline to fix any broken items, donate your items, and sell your items. This way, decisions are made about the broken things that need to be fixed and the donations leave your home.
Many people get stuck when it comes to selling their decluttered stuff. Set a deadline to sell things. If the deadline to sell your items has passed, make the decision to either seriously lower the price or just donate the items. Donation is the path of least resistance and can bring more immediate results.
3 | Setup Piles.
Set yourself up for decluttering success! Grab some boxes, trash bags, or laundry baskets and label them as follows:
- Give Away
- Keep: Relocate / Fix
4 | Take Photos.
Sometimes when we’re in the process of decluttering we may feel as though we’ve gotten nowhere.
Taking photos of whatever you’re decluttering – whether it’s an entire room or simply a drawer or basket – will help you to see any and all progress that you’ve made.
5 | Think of it Like an Onion.
Every layer of decluttering gets you further toward the goal that you’ve envisioned of having a simplified home.
Each time you declutter, you’re peeling away another layer. Over time, each layer will make a big difference.
6 | Take Small Steps
Related to the onion analogy, be sure to take small steps. Each step is another layer of the onion.
Have you ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It’s the same with decluttering.
If you feel paralyzed by clutter and aren’t sure where to begin the decluttering process, rest assured that it can be simplified into bite-sized portions.
The key to knowing where to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed is to not bite off more than you can chew, metaphorically speaking. If you attempt to tackle too much at a time, it can further the feelings of despair and analysis paralysis.
That said, you still need a practical place to start those small steps!
Begin your decluttering by identifying the most high-traffic area in your home OR the area that would make the most impact in your daily life if it was decluttered. Usually, these areas are one-in-the-same.
Throw away trash. Set aside items that don’t belong in that space. Then work on decluttering small areas of that space at a time.
7 | Find the Best Time to Declutter
Let’s be honest – life is busy and it can be difficult to find the time to declutter.
However, much like other things in life like getting out of debt or losing weight, decluttering is an area that takes intentionality.
It requires that you block out a certain amount of time in a consistent manner to devote to that particular matter. It doesn’t just happen without us making it happen. And we can’t rely on inspiration. Much like someone who wants to get in shape or get out of debt shouldn’t solely rely on inspiration to reach their goals.
Don’t wait until motivation strikes. Like losing weight or getting out of debt – decluttering is not accomplished solely on motivation.
You just have to take small steps, be consistent, and keep at it even if you’re not inspired or motivated. The momentum comes from taking a step. Then it builds. Then the motivation and inspiration follow.
Here are a few tricks to find the time to declutter:
- Set aside 30 minutes per day or 30 minutes to an hour per week.
- Set a timer and only work at decluttering until the timer goes off.
- Utilize time in the margins of the day (early morning or before bed).
- Use small chunks of time, tackling one drawer, cabinet, or section at a time.
- Set aside an entire weekend to devote to decluttering a larger area.
8 | Combat Indecisiveness When Decluttering
Have you ever experienced indecisiveness while decluttering? You’re not alone. Everyone experiences some amount of indecision when decluttering.
This can be because the Endowment Effect is working against us, meaning that we attribute more value to something that is already ours versus if someone else were to own that exact same thing (source). This is why, if you want to know where to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed, you should not start with sentimental items.
Recognize that indecisiveness is a normal part of decluttering. Also, an item that may have served you during a particular season of life may not be relevant or necessary anymore. That’s okay.
9 | Set Deadlines and Keep them
Setting deadlines is an often-overlooked aspect of decluttering. It can even be the root of why decluttering projects go unfinished or are left half done. Setting a decluttering deadline for yourself can put positive pressure on you to keep moving forward.
Set a deadline for the following declutter action items:
- Deadline for fixing broken items.
- Deadline for donating your items.
- Deadline for selling your decluttered items (if they don’t sell by the deadline, lower the price, donate them, or give them away).
- Deadline for “maybe” items.
- Deadline for completing benchmarks or sections of your decluttering goals.
- Deadline for when you will be done decluttering.
Writing down goals and setting deadlines will keep things actionable, and measurable, and will aid in accountability.
10 | Decluttering with Young Kids
If you’re attempting to declutter your home with young children, it can be difficult, but not impossible.
A few ideas for decluttering with kids are:
- Ask your spouse or a family member to watch your kids for a manageable amount of time so you can declutter without kids under foot.
- Swap childcare with a friend who also has kids.
- If you have the means, hire a babysitter.
- Declutter while they’re watching something for 30 minutes.
- Involve the kids in the decluttering process (if they’re above the age of 5).
- Try micro-decluttering sessions at night after they’ve gone to bed.
- Give yourself 15-30 minutes to declutter 1 drawer or 1 cabinet.
- Keep the decluttering sessions smaller to make them more manageable.
Everyone’s situation is different. Do what’s best for your situation.
I hope these 10 tips helped you to know where to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed.