How to start decluttering, without getting overwhelmed


When life feels chaotic and out of control choosing to make some small changes in our lives can actually help us feel a greater sense of agency and calm.

If you are feeling called to declutter or make space in your home right now, here are some gentle ways to make some progress without feeling overwhelmed, or getting derailed in the process.

Consider what your decluttering/ or reorganising is in aid of?

Are you wanting less stress, greater family harmony, a quiet place to retreat, a dedicated workspace, to improve a shared space for greater functionality? If you can identify the goal of your project, if will help keep you focused when you get tired or frustrated during the process.

Make changes one at a time.

Take things one step at a time. You don’t have to know how you’re going to organise your whole house in order to get started. Just take the first step and then the one after that, and so on. This will help build confidence in your ability to start and finish and allow you to make tiny course corrections along the way.

Start small and stick to one category at a time.

Start by picking just one limited space to declutter – a drawer, the kitchen table or counter, a shelf, the corner of one room. if you start getting all your belongings out at once you’re so much more likely to get distracted, derailed and overwhelmed. Keep it as simple as possible. If in doubt, choose an area that you use often and that might be a source of daily frustration.

Set yourself a time limit.

About 30-45 minutes at a time is ideal. Any more than this and you’ll get worn out and be less likely to finish the task in hand. Always try to build in at least 5-10 minutes into your session to put everything back where it belongs after you’ve finished sorting. This way you’ll avoid hangover piles that have to be dealt with again later.

Don’t overthink it.

Easier said than done, I know. Try as best you can to make quick decisions and trust your gut. Especially with objects that aren’t sentimental such as junk drawers etc – don’t waste your precious energy and decision making power on stuff that is just clogging up space and isn’t useful. Let it go. Grab a bin bag and clear it out.

Try not to wade in too deep.

Now probably isn’t the best time to confront your teenage journals or sentimental belongings. If you start reading those diary entries from when you were fifteen you will fall into a massive time sink and get derailed. Keep it high level to begin with and schedule another sorting date to dive deeper into a specific category, when you have the energy and head space.

Know what works for you.

If music helps keep your energy up and makes the job fun, turn up the volume. If you need perfect quiet, that’s ok too. Do whatever you need to do in order to make organising as easy and enjoyable for you as possible. Most importantly, make sure you’re well hydrated have snacks on hand, and take breaks when you need to.

Be realistic about what you expect from yourself.

If you’re just starting out tackling your clutter be gentle with yourself. It’s an emotional and physical process and will take time and energy. Make sure to celebrate your wins, and remember that any progress you make – is ALL progress!

Get some extra support if you need to.
You don’t have to do it alone. If you need some specialised organising support and guidance please get in touch! I’m here to help.