When the sheer amount of stuff in your home overwhelms you, decluttering can seem like an insurmountable task. However, breaking down the process into manageable steps can make it more approachable.

This guide will walk you through practical strategies to start decluttering, ensuring a less stressful and more successful journey.

Begin with Small Areas

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, starting small is key. Tackling a small, manageable space like a junk drawer or a single shelf can give you a quick win and boost your motivation. Focusing on one small area at a time prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by the larger task ahead.

Create a decluttering Plan

Having a clear plan can significantly reduce feelings of overwhelm. Write down a decluttering to-do list, breaking down your home into smaller tasks. Instead of listing “declutter the kitchen,” break it down into “declutter kitchen junk drawer,” “declutter pantry,” and so on. This approach makes each task seem more achievable and allows you to check off completed items, providing a sense of accomplishment.

Use a Timer

Use a timer to limit your decluttering sessions. Start with short bursts of 15-20 minutes to prevent burnout. This method can make the task seem less daunting and more manageable. Setting a goal for how much you want to achieve in a certain amount of time and setting a timer help you stay on track and motivated.

Focus on High-Impact Areas

Start decluttering in areas that will make the most noticeable difference, like the kitchen or entryway. When decluttered, these high-traffic spaces can significantly improve your home’s functionality and feel, which can motivate you to continue the process. Simplifying these spaces results in immediate appreciation and enjoyment of your decluttering progress.

Employ the Three-Box Method

Sort items into three categories: keep, donate/sell, and trash. This system facilitates prompt decision-making and prevents you from relocating clutter rather than addressing it. This method streamlines the process and helps you stay organized, ensuring unwanted items don’t remain in your house.

Declutter First, Organize Later

Focus on decluttering first without worrying about organizing. Once you’ve eliminated the unnecessary items, you can then organize the remaining items. This prevents the process from becoming overwhelming and helps you see progress more quickly. Knowing what you’re keeping allows you to implement new systems and purchase any supplies, hooks, or containers you need to stay organized.

Ask Key Questions

When deciding whether to keep an item, ask yourself:
1) Would I buy this item again today?
2) Have I used this item in the past year?
3) Does this item hold significant sentimental value?
These questions can help you make clear decisions and reduce the mental load of decluttering. Arm yourself with these questions to quickly decide what stays and what goes.

Address Emotional Roadblocks

Acknowledge that some items may have sentimental value and be harder to let go of. Allow yourself to keep a few sentimental items, but consider taking photos of these items as a way to preserve the memory without keeping the physical object. Overcoming these emotional barriers is crucial for effective decluttering.

Involve Family and Friends

If possible, involve family members or friends in the decluttering process. Their support can make the task more enjoyable and help you stay committed. However, don’t let their lack of support discourage you; you can still make significant progress on your own. Engaging others can provide invaluable support, motivation, and decision-making assistance.

Celebrate Small Wins

Reward yourself for the progress you make, no matter how small. Celebrate completing each decluttering session with a treat or a break. This positive reinforcement can help keep you motivated throughout the process. Acknowledging your achievements, even small ones, will keep you motivated and help you recognize the effort you’ve invested in creating a clutter-free home.

Utilize Helpful Tools and Techniques

Employing helpful tools and techniques can make decluttering more enjoyable and less intimidating. Setting a timer, creating checklists, or playing upbeat music are some fun decluttering strategies to make the process more enjoyable. Utilizing these tools can ensure a more efficient and stress-free experience.

Develop a Maintenance Plan

Formulating a personalized decluttering plan is critical to maintaining a clutter-free home after decluttering. This may include regular decluttering sessions, establishing designated spaces for items, and implementing the “one in, one out” rule, where you donate one item for every new item brought into your home. Consistency is often more important than intensity when it comes to maintaining a tidy environment.


Starting to declutter when you’re overwhelmed can be challenging, but by breaking the process down into manageable steps, creating a plan, and using effective strategies, you can regain control of your space. Remember to celebrate your small victories and stay motivated. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a clutter-free home.