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How to Start Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed

So you’ve finally decided enough is enough and you want to declutter your home.. but with so much stuff everywhere, where do you even begin?

The idea of decluttering can be overwhelming. Trust me, I know. When you already have a large amount of clutter everywhere making it hard to keep up with your home, things get that much harder.

I bet you’re wondering what to do and where to even begin since the thought of even starting the process is too much for you to handle.

Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed

First things first, I want you to stop and breathe. When you become overwhelmed, things get so much harder.

Take out a piece of paper and write down why you are doing this. Is it because you want a home that is easier to manage? Is it because you feel suffocated by all the things in your home that serve no purpose? Are you trying to better your life and your family’s lives?

Figure out your “why” and I want you to remember that throughout this journey. Place your “why” where you can easily see it, everyday. You need that motivation to keep going.

Starting Your Journey to Decluttering

That’s right, I said journey. This isn’t something that is going to be quick. It isn’t going to be a one time thing and it certainly isn’t going to be easy.

If you are emotionally attached to your things like I am, this is going to be a mentally exhausting process. One that is going to take time.

As we go through this journey, you may need breaks or may even need to stop all together for a few days. That is okay. You are not failing when you need a break. I don’t want you to start your journey of decluttering when you’re overwhelmed to the point of wanting to quit all together or not start at all. Sometimes when we are overwhelmed, it is easier to just quit. But this time, I want you to succeed, overwhelmed or not.

Where to Begin

The question of where to begin depends on a few factors.

  1. Why are you overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering? Is it because you are attached to your belongings? Are you scared to let them go? Or is it because you have so much stuff that the thought of having to pull everything out and make a mess is too much for you?
  2. Do you have trouble keeping up with mess in your home? If you were to pull everything out to go through it, would that space be unmanageable?
  3. How much stuff do you have? Are we going through a ton of things that might take more than the time you have allotted to declutter?

We are going to assume that you are like me and you don’t have hours at a time to start this decluttering process. Instead, you have bits of time here and there. And, let’s say, one off day a week to dedicate to decluttering.

We are going to assume that you’re a good mix between emotionally attached to some things and overwhelmed because the amount of stuff in your home has caused it to become unmanageable for you and you struggle to keep it clean.

Decluttering Little by Little

So here is an idea, you don’t necessarily have to pick an entire room to declutter at a time. Instead, why don’t you pick an area.. or things? For instance, look in your bathroom.

Do you have shampoo bottles or body wash bottles that are nearly empty? Or conditioner bottles that you put water in the stretch a bit further.. yeah I see you.

I bet you’re like me and you already have replacements for them. Go ahead and take those empty bottles and toss them in the trash.

While you’re looking at your shower or tub, do you see bubble bath, bath salts or bath bombs that have been sitting there since last Christmas? When you bathe tonight, do you plan on using them? Or do you plan to use them at all in the near future? Can you keep the bubble bath you do like and toss the ones that you don’t like and haven’t used in the last 12 months?

What about your scrubbie or loofah? Are you like me and have two in there because you bought a new one a month ago to replace the one that is wearing out? Do this with razors, too.

Look at you.. you just decluttered your shower. I bet this took you under ten minutes.

Be Proud of Your Small Victories

Take that shower decluttering as a win. Be proud of the area you just cleared out. Now, when you shower every night to end your day or every morning you begin it, you can breathe a little easier because your area will be comfortable and easier to manage.

You won’t subconsciously be thinking about how you need to switch out your shampoo bottles and toss out that loofah. It’s done already.

Do Easy Spaces That you use Daily

I want you to do those areas that you use often, first. This way, when you’re overwhelmed with the thought of decluttering you can look around at the spaces that you have decluttered and remember that you did that. It is possible and you are capable.


Decluttering your pantry might be a bit overwhelming, if you’re like me, and have prepared for the apocalypse. But you can do this and it won’t take you very long.

Look on the shelf that is eye level with you. For me, that is my canned goods and dinner sides. Grab those cans and check the expiration dates. If it is expired, let it go. Don’t believe in expiration dates? Ask yourself this.. Would I feed this to my family tonight? Or would I use the new can that I just bought last week? If you wouldn’t feed it to your family tonight, let it go.

This concept can go for anything that has been sitting in your pantry for the last six months. At this point, it is just taking up valuable space. Take a deep breath and let it go.

Finished with that first shelf? If you can tackle another, go ahead. If you can’t, that’s ok. Again, take this as a win. Now, when you’re looking for dinner you don’t have to dig through things. You can see what you have and grab and go.

Refrigerator Door

If you and I are soul mates.. I bet you have about 4,000 condiment bottles in the door compartments.. I also bet you have one stick of butter left in that box. Empty the box and start looking at expiration dates on those condiments. Throw them out.

I could not believe the amount of stuff on that door that had expired. Even now, I feel like I go through the fridge pretty often and still I will find things that expired in 2017.

…. I didn’t move into this house until 2020. What is this madness?

Anyway, since this likely took you a couple of minutes, try and do the top shelf of the fridge. Work your way through out the fridge if you have time. You can do this while cooking dinner tonight. It’s very easy.

Kitchen Junk Drawer

I know you have one. Everyone does. If it’s not in your kitchen then it’s hidden somewhere else in your home. This is the drawer that you throw everything in that doesn’t have a home.

We throw batteries in it, broken things that we plan on fixing, change, stickers we are hiding from our kids, maybe some slime..

Grab a grocery store bag and start picking through the drawer. Throw the slime away. You hid it from your kid for a reason. If you have something that’s broken that you planned to fix but wouldn’t fix it right now, toss it out. Unless its an expensive piece of jewelry or an expensive item then it belongs in it’s home, not in that junk drawer to get lost.

Once you get the trash and useless items picked out, I bet you can easily see what’s in there, now. Organize it in a way that will work for you. Use trays or drawer dividers and set up a place for the things that you would look for in there. If that’s where you would go to get a battery, use a tray and put them in a specific spot.

Don’t have a tray? Take a cereal box and cut it down, or a ziplock bag box. You can get pretty things, later.

If everything in that drawer serves a purpose and has a specific home within the drawer, you are less likely to fill it up with random stuff. Do like I did and dedicate a space in the drawer for random stuff, if you want. But once that spot is filled, you’ve got to empty it out by rehoming or tossing the items out.

Decluttering when you’re overwhelmed is hard, but small wins make a difference

Tackling these small daily use spaces makes a huge difference and gives you the motivation you need to move forward. You can take this journey as slowly as you need to.

You’re going to feel good opening your pantry and fridge and being able to use it more efficiently. Imagine how easy it’ll be when you go through your cleaning supplies and you’re able to just grab what you need right away instead of digging through a bunch of bottles.

Starting out this way will help you to realize that a decluttered and simpler space is easier to manage and makes you feel good. This will make it easier to tackle those bigger spaces and help to calm the overwhelm you feel at the thought of decluttering.

Want more help?

I’d love to help you through a more personal approach. If you don’t know where to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed, send me a message and lets figure it out together. I’d be happy to help you start a plan, free of charge.

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