It’s always nice to welcome in the new year with a good tidy up and sort out but how do you declutter when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
2020 was not an easy year for anyone and we all spent a lot more time inside surrounded by our ‘stuff’, our home environment has a huge effect on our mental and emotional state – if there is physical clutter and chaos around you then your mind can feel cluttered too which is why it’s important to get a handle on the situation.
How To Declutter When Overwhelmed
So what do we do if we want to declutter but feel like the task is too big and don’t know where to start? I’ll let you in on my top two secrets on how to declutter when overwhelmed…
Change Your Mindset around Decluttering
A lot of people feel overwhelmed about decluttering because they focus on the ‘throwing away’ aspect of it but the truth of the matter is, this stuff around you is not serving a purpose for you, if it was it wouldn’t be considered as clutter. We need to stop thinking about what we are getting rid of and focus on what you want to keep. Think of it as a positive activity that is creating a better home environment for you rather than a negative one where you are having to get rid of items.
Break it down into 10-minute chunks
Your home didn’t get cluttered all in one day, it’s a steady build-up of stuff over months and years, so there is no way that’ll you be able to declutter it in a day. A little bit of work here and there in 10-minute increments is going to make a world of difference and is easily manageable.
How to start decluttering
Decide on a system
I like to have a 3 box system when I declutter – I find 3 empty boxes/containers/bin bags and label one with Keep, one with Bin and the other with Sell/Donate.
As you are going through your items make a quick decision on if it’s rubbish (we’re talking old receipts, anything that’s broken or missing parts), if it’s something you no longer want or need but it has some value or could be useful for someone else or if it’s something you’d like to keep. The reason we want to make quick decisions is because that’s all it really needs, if you need to think about if something is useful to you then it generally isn’t. We’re not trying to find excuses to keep stuff we’re trying to move ‘stuff’ out of our space that isn’t needed and is making us feel stressed.
Pick an area
Don’t think big, think small. Don’t choose to declutter the whole kitchen at once, start with a drawer or a cupboard – the smaller area you choose the more thorough you can be which will create lasting results and be easier to maintain in the long run. Remember we’re only focusing on one area at a time and in short bursts.
If you’re having trouble deciding on an area choose a place that has the biggest impact on your day to day life – Does the hallway stress you out when you come home to a pile of shoes/coats/toys? Does stuff fall out of the pots and pans cupboard when you’re trying to cook dinner? Can you not concentrate at your desk because it’s covered in paperwork? Pick a ‘pain point’ and work on that area, once it’s done it’ll be a little bit of stress relieved from your everyday life.
Gather your supplies
Once you’ve picked your area to declutter, grab what you need to tackle it
- Boxes – any box will do, it’s just to hold the items we plan to keep or sell/donate. We will sort them fully once we’ve decluttered the area, for now we just need something to put them in to get them away from the decluttered space
- Bin Bags – if you have dark bin bags available (as opposed to the clear or semi-transparent ones) then they are better to use as you can’t see what you’ve thrown away. You don’t need to look at it again or second guess if it was the right decision.
- Gloves and cleaning supplies – if you’re tackling a part of your home that hasn’t been touched for a while it’s handy to have some cleaning supplies on hand so you can take care of any dust or give it a quick wipe over once done.
Resist the urge to buy any new boxes or storage solutions – we aren’t organising, we are decluttering. Organising and decluttering are two different tasks and you can’t get organised if you haven’t decluttered.
Set a timer
Set yourself a 10-minute timer on your phone and see how much you can get through if you feel like you’re on a roll after that first 10mins is up then set it again and try another 10mins, stop when you feel like its getting harder to decide. Trying to work for too long a period of time can give you decision fatigue. Stop when it gets harder to make decisions and you feel like you aren’t decluttering effectively, you can always set a timer again a bit later or another day. Decluttering is a marathon not a sprint.
What to do with your decluttered items
Once you’ve finished your decluttering session you need to deal with the items you have sorted as soon as possible. The quickest way to do this is to take items in your chunk/bin/rubbish box straight to the bin and get rid of them, tidy away the items you want to keep into their appropriate areas (this includes putting away any clothes – if they are dirty put them in the laundry, if they are clean then put them back where they belong, don’t worry if it needs ironing we can do that later, just get them to put away)
Any items that are going to be donated need to be bagged up and put somewhere ready to take – ours go into a sturdy reusable bag and get set by the front door or into the car usually.
If you’ve got items that are going to be sold you need to decide where you’re going to sell them. For a general household declutter I find FB marketplace to be the best way to get rid of items quickly, if it’s items that’ll go or a hight price then eBay is better. If you’ve got time I’d suggested taking photos and listing items as soon as you have sorted them – if you leave them in a ‘to list later’ pile it becomes another area of clutter (I speak from experience on this!) and it becomes overwhelming again.
Repeat the process
Decluttering isn’t something that you complete overnight, like we’ve said already, your home didn’t get cluttered in a day it happens over time and so does rectifying it. The biggest thing you need to remember if you’re feeling overwhelmed when decluttering is that it is a process and any steps you take towards it are a massive win and great progress.
Decluttering your home is a great step towards a more minimalist lifestyle without the need for unnecessary ‘things’. Before buying new items without a thought, consider whether you can make a more sustainable choice, such as with eco-friendly clothing or refillable cleaning products. Maintaining a clutter-free lifestyle will reduce the amount of future decluttering, plus it’s good for the environment too.