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If you live in a home of any kind, especially if you have children, chances are you have encountered the problem of clutter. Sometimes it can seem like stuff is taking over your house. It can be super stressful to even think about trying to declutter. So how do you declutter when you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?

Like many things, the first answer is to just start somewhere.

But sometimes starting without any direction can lead to self sabotage and freezing at the first moment of stress.

That’s why you need a plan! A plan will help you stay on track and plough through till you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

My family and I are on a journey toward a more minimalist lifestyle. We just don’t enjoy having a lot of stuff in our home that we don’t use and that doesn’t make us happy.

It can be so freeing to say goodbye to all the unnecessary things that take up precious space!

That’s why I want to help you to learn how to declutter when feel overwhelmed and in-over-your-head.

You can get past these feelings and make some killer progress if you follow some easy guidelines.

In this post, we’ll get into the meat and potatoes of how to declutter when you feel overwhelmed. I’m going to walk you through 5 strategies to help you take action and get clutter-free without stress.

How to Declutter When You Feel Overwhelmed plus FREE five-step worksheet

Let’s get into it!

1. Make a list by room

A good way to declutter when you feel overwhelmed is to first make a list of all the rooms in your house. This will give you a starting point to see how much you need to declutter. Then you can go from there.

Thankfully, my family and I live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home so we don’t have that much space to fill with stuff to begin with.

BUT we still tend to accumulate a lot of junk overtime and we purge our home pretty often in order to keep it under control.

My list looks like this:

  1. Living room
  2. Dining area
  3. Kitchen
  4. Master bedroom
  5. Kids room
  6. Master bathroom
  7. Guest bathroom

So now I know I have seven areas to work with.

Your list might look a little different. If you know for a fact that a room doesn’t need to be decluttered, simply leave it off the list.

2. Separate each room into sections

The next step in learning how to declutter when you feel overwhelmed is to break up each room into smaller parts.

For example, I separate my bedroom into the following sections:

  • Sick/vanity area (our sink is in our bedroom)
  • Nightstands
  • Dresser
  • Closet

Take each room one section at a time, not thinking about what you need to do next.

If needed, you can even section off your sections on your list!

So for my sick/vanity area, first I would declutter the medicine cabinet, then the countertop, then the drawers and lower cabinets.

When you focus on small sections like this, it makes the job feel more manageable and less overwhelming.


3. Make four piles

As you’re working through your stuff, make four piles. I call these the donate, toss, sell, and keep piles.

They’re pretty self-explanatory.

I have to admit that I don’t really like to sell our stuff so we pretty much never do. The small amount of money I would get from selling our possessions just isn’t worth it to me when you consider the time and hassle it takes to list an item online, find a buyer, agree on a price, and have a total stranger come pick it up from my home.

But if you have a lot of very nice things or need some fast cash, selling your stuff could be a great option for you.


4. Invest in storage solutions

A place for everything and everything in its place!

If you don’t have a spot for a thing you own, it’s going to end up as clutter. That’s why you need a designated place for each item you own.

Otherwise it will end up on your floor or in a junk drawer somewhere. Remember that the little things add up. You don’t want to be back at square one in just a few weeks! So really put in the time and money now to organize your belongings.

There are a lot of really great affordable storage solutions out there.

My personal favorites are fabric bins, clear containers with lids, and wooden cube organizers like these below.


ClosetMaid Cube Storage Organizer



Collapsible Storage Bins with Label Holders




Stackable Clear Storage Boxes with Locking Lids




5. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, don’t keep it

This is an old organizing rule I heard on the Oprah show many years ago. I use it as a loose guideline when I’m decluttering because it really helps me decide what’s worth keeping and what needs to go.

In general, if I don’t love or use an item semi-regularly, I choose to get rid of it, and try to come to that decision as quickly as possible. If I think about it too much, I usually end up keeping it and regretting it later.

Obviously, seasonal items should be evaluated based on their use within the season they’re made for.

So if it’s winter when you’re decluttering and you realize you haven’t worn your flip flops in a few months, don’t throw them out! You’ll more than likely use them again.

But if you see you have 4 bathing suits and know you only use two out of those four, you should toss the other two without analyzing it too much.

Common roadblocks to decluttering (and how to overcome them)

If you’re wondering how to declutter when you feel beyond overwhelmed, chances are you’ve probably encountered these problems while purging your home of junk.



We’ve all felt a little guilty about getting rid of something that was a gift from a friend or loved one.

Although gifts are usually given with good intentions, many times they are things we don’t want or need and ultimately become just another item of clutter in our homes.

I don’t say this to sound ungrateful. I appreciate the thought behind gifts, but I also don’t forbid myself from parting with a gift when it no longer serves purpose in my home or in my life.

If I knew a gift I gave only caused more stress and work for someone, I would feel better knowing they donated it to someone else than if they kept it just to make me happy!

Let go of that guilt! I’m giving you permission right now. (Not that you need it!)


Emotional attachment

Many people have a hard time parting with “stuff” because some things do hold sentimental value. They keep a thing because it’s connected to a special time in their life, or to a precious memory.

I actually believe that some sentimental items are very important to hold onto because they do serve a purpose. They remind you of a certain memory or person that was significant to you and that can bring you a lot of joy.

It’s usually pretty easy for me to part with my stuff. My closet only contains a handful of dresses and exactly 2 coats and 2 scarves. But the two things in my closet I just cannot part with are my wedding dress and the dress I wore on my first date with my husband.

Both are stained and I probably won’t wear either again, but they mean something to me and I just don’t want to get rid of them.

But sentimentality can also be taken too far. If you’re holding onto a stuffed animal from childhood that’s falling apart and know you’ll never pass down to your children, it’s probably time to toss it!

You have to weigh the significance of an item and make the call for yourself.


Thinking you’ll use it again

Sooo many people keep stuff because they feel that it’s wasteful to let it go because they just might use it again. But many times these things don’t get ever get used, taking up precious space in your home.

If you’re having trouble getting rid of something, imagine what your life would be like without it. Will it be better or worse if you don’t have that thing?

Sometimes even if I think I might need something again, I’ll still donate it because it’s just not worth the clutter to me.

If I need a certain thing, I can usually go pick it up from the store or order it online when I need it.

Final thoughts

If you need extra motivation to start decluttering, try this.

Go around your house and take a look. Really look.

What would life be like if all the extra stuff was gone? How would you feel? What kind of beneficial changes would decluttering lead to for you?

Answer these questions and then spring into action! Let’s do it together!

Now I want to hear from you!

In the comments, share the biggest roadblock you face when it comes to decluttering.

Or, if you’re a pro at organization, what’s an awesome hack or solution you’ve found that really kicks your decluttering game into gear? Tell us about it!


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