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How To Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed

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If you feel overwhelmed, break out in a sweat, or generally panic when thinking about decluttering your home, you’re not alone. Plenty of people struggle with clutter that they don’t know what to do with. In this guide, we share our favorite decluttering and organization tips!

how to declutter when overwhelmed mother with text overlay.

We’ve all got a little bit of it, and some of us have more than others. Yup, we’re talking about stuff! Your favorite stuff, the stuff you don’t use anymore, and the stuff you probably have never (and will never) touch. We’ve all been there – before you know it, your home is cluttered and jam-packed with too much stuff. 

All that to say, no judgment here! The fact that you’re reading this guide means that you’re ready to start decluttering your home. As you get started, you may get overwhelmed by a few things: the amount of items that you need to go through, what to do with the stuff you no longer need, and how to stay organized once the decluttering process is all said and done. 

In this guide, we’re outlining all of the above and more!

When to Start Decluttering

There is no one definitive answer to the question of when you have so much clutter that you need to take action. However, these decluttering tips for hoarders (even if you haven’t gotten to that level yet) can help you get started.

  • Consider the size and complexity of your belongings. If your living spaces are relatively clutter-free and all of your belongings fit on one shelf or in one drawer, it may not be necessary to declutter right away. Start in the rooms that you spend the most time in, and take a good hard look at what’s filling those spaces. 
  • Consider your feelings toward your belongings. Think about how your things affect your day-to-day life. Do you avoid spaces? Do you feel unnecessary items are taking up your space? Are you frustrated with tripping over belongings you don’t care about or are you shoving things into that one closet you’re afraid to open – that’s your sign to have a declutter plan.
  • Consider how long ago your last decluttering happened. Has it been over a year since you last decided to organize? Marie Kondo, a famous home organizer said, “To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too.” If you haven’t organized your past in, well… six months, one year, two years… it’s definitely time to start!

If you have more than a couple of pieces of furniture, shelves, or boxes filled with belongings, it’s time to purge unwanted items. If you tend to buy more things than you can use or keep, regular decluttering will help prevent you from becoming a hoarder.

house clutter.

How to Declutter

Having a declutter plan doesn’t have to be time consuming. You may find it helpful to know that admitting you have a clutter problem is a great first step! There are a few actionable tips that you can put into practice right away to help you with decluttering.

Start with a plan

People get overwhelmed when a problem is too big. So make your problems much smaller. Start by setting realistic goals for how much space you want to organize and create specific timelines for when each thing needs to be done.

Tackle small spaces that feel doable. “I will get rid of clutter in one closet, every Tuesday evening while I listen to a podcast” may feel more doable than, “I have to get rid of the clutter in my entire house!”

Figure out what you actually need

Determining what you need and what you don’t will help you prioritize your decluttering efforts!

A great way to figure out what you need is to dump everything into a storage container and leave it in the garage. This is a great one for gadgets in your kitchen. Whatever you use over the next month can stay in the house; whatever you don’t use gets donated.

Group similar items together

Having like items together allows you to easily make decisions about what to keep and what to discard based on usage or aesthetic appeal.

Don’t be afraid to get rid of stuff

Get rid of items that are unnecessary or that no longer serve any purpose. This includes all the clothes, furniture, electronics, and other household items that you can do without. 

Stay focused. Most hoarders have an emotional attachment to items so don’t keep anything that truly has no sentimental value.

Take it slow

A major decluttering project can take time, so try not to get discouraged if it seems like you’re not making much progress. Decluttering an entire home can take weeks if not months. Be gentle with yourself.

You also shouldn’t rush the process. Start small by doing one room at a time and begin with a small area. Going through your things can bring up memories and can sometimes trigger an emotional response. And that’s okay! 

office clutter.

What to Do With Stuff You Don’t Want Anymore

There comes a time when you no longer want or need something. Whether it’s a piece of clothing, an electronic gadget, or anything else in your possession, it can be tough to let go. But what should you do with the stuff that’s no longer useful to you? Here are tips for decluttering and organizing your things:

Invite your friends over 

Some of the things that you no longer have a use for could be useful to someone else. Tell your friends, family, and loved ones that you’re going through your stuff and that they’re welcome to take anything they might want. Remember that cousin who’s expecting? She could get a lot of use out of the baby crib that’s been sitting in your spare room.

Have a yard sale 

You may have a hard time getting rid of things because you can’t stop thinking about what you spent on them in the first place. Earn back some of that cash through a yard sale or garage sale! You’d be surprised at just how lucrative they can be.

Sell online 

Websites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist are great for selling things you no longer use. You will probably be able to earn a bit more cash online than you would at a yard sale. This is especially true for any collector’s items you have laying around!


You can give your clutter a second life when you donate it. There are plenty of charities and organizations out there who would be happy to take your stuff off your hands. 

how to start decluttering in garage.

Tips For Staying Organized

Once you’ve cleared your home of all of that unnecessary clutter, there are some things you should do to keep it that way! One of the biggest reasons that homes become cluttered in the first place is that they don’t have any organizational systems in place.

Keeping an organized home can be a daunting task, but with the right tips, it can be easier than you think. Here are some helpful tips to help maintain order and avoid hoarding tendencies:

  • Create a home for your items. You know the saying, a place for everything and everything in its place. This idea rings true when it comes to keeping your home decluttered! Make sure to tell your family or roommates about the new organizational system so everyone in the house is on the same page.
  • Invest in storage. Set up storage systems in your home or office to optimize efficiency. This could include hanging files on hooks or placing shelves near where you need them. Declutter kitchen drawers then add dividers and labels to keep them in order. When you make it easy to stay organized, it will start to become more natural.
  • Use your space wisely. Store excess belongings like holiday decorations in storage units or attic spaces if they’re not being used. This will get them out of the way and keep them clean while you wait for the right opportunity to use or dispose of them properly. 

Declutter Your Home Checklist

You now have the skills you need to keep your home clutter-free. We’ve included a checklist below to make things even easier!

  • Step 1: Make a plan and determine the spaces that you want to clear out. It can be helpful to write them out on a list so that you can check things off as you do them. It’s really satisfying!
  • Step 2: Sort your things to figure out exactly what you need. Group the items into similar categories to make the process easier.
  • Step 3: Get rid of items you no longer use. Put unnecessary items in large boxes or trash bags to make disposal easier. You can give them away to people you know, have a sale, donate things, or throw them out.
  • Step 4: Organize the things you decide to keep. Create designated spaces for everything so that you don’t find yourself in the same position a few months down the line.
shelf clutter.

FAQs on Decluttering When Overwhelmed

If you don’t see your question answered below, don’t be afraid to let us know in the comments!

How do I force myself to declutter?

A lot of people struggle to find the motivation to declutter. You can help yourself (we don’t like to say force because that’s no fun!) by taking these steps:

  • Make a clear goal for yourself
  • Get started somewhere, even if it’s small
  • Put on some music for extra motivation and enjoyment
  • Give yourself a reward once you’ve finished
  • Invite someone to clean with you

Where do I start decluttering my home?

Start with the rooms that you spend the most time in, and work room-by-room. One of the reasons why decluttering can seem so overwhelming is because an entire house can feel huge! When you work in small sections, it’s much easier. 

Should I clean or declutter first?

To make your life easier, you should always declutter before you clean and organize. The process is bound to get a bit messy, and you don’t want to end up doing the same job twice. Cleaning is also a lot easier when you have less stuff.


Now that you know the best decluttering tips for hoarders, have a declutter your home checklist, and know how to get started, what’s next?! These articles can get you on the right track:

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