Do These 3 Things When You’re Overwhelmed By Clutter

Want to live in an organized and comfortable home, but you’re too overwhelmed by clutter to get started? Here are 3 steps you can take TODAY to control your clutter and start making progress toward a clutter-free home. 

This post and my other declutter tips will explain simple actions to help you get rid of the guilt and get you started on the road to becoming an expert at decluttering.

green plant on wood sideboard against white wall with white overlay and text 3 things you can do about clutter overwhelm

This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can see my full disclaimer here.

Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff?

How many people have ‘declutter’ as a new year’s resolution… every year? Yet they make no progress? 

Frankly, it’s just too easy to become overwhelmed by clutter. When you’re faced by a mountain of visual clutter… or a spare room that hasn’t been usable in years… or a garage you can’t park a bike in, much less a car… just getting started seems impossible.

So you don’t. 

I totally get that! I lived with clutter for many years. In fact, it was only a brief few years ago that I got fed up enough to finally get a grip on the problem. 

Before that, I was just like you, with the same clutter-related issues. I was so frustrated and thought it was impossible to ever be clutter-free.

Here on the blog I’ve previously shared some of my best declutter tips — like how to do a slow declutter and what to do if you need to declutter really fast. But in this post I want to talk about what to do when you’re so overwhelmed that you honestly can’t bring yourself to start with picking up and getting rid of even one thing.

Ready? Let’s dig in. I hope that by the end of this post, you’ll feel better about yourself, the process you’re facing, and the prospect of living WITHOUT clutter. 

Why We Get Overwhelmed by Clutter

There are so many reasons we allow clutter to take over. 

  • We inherit things. 
  • We feel guilty getting rid of ‘useful’ things. 
  • We are naturally a little messy, and it snowballs into clutter.
  • We stockpile ‘good deals’ but don’t have a plan for actually using the items.
  • We feel too busy to take care of things.
  • We simply never noticed the mess until we realized we were too embarrassed to let anyone inside our house.
  • We have a lot of people living in our home and there’s just too much stuff to keep track of. Plus, it’s not our stuff and we feel resentful.
  • We don’t have systems in place to deal with everyday life and the stuff that goes along with it.

Sometimes, we just get overwhelmed by everything ELSE we have to do. We juggle a lot of things, and there are times when we can’t even think about taking on the giant medicine ball of decluttering.

The thing is, by the time you get to this point, often the reasons for the mess are either forgotten or they aren’t nearly as important as what you do NEXT. 

3 Things to Do When You’re Paralyzed By Clutter

But what exactly CAN you do when you know there’s this huge clutter problem and you don’t feel ready to tackle it yet?

I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned over the past few years…

Decluttering is more about your MIND than about the STUFF.

While I’m a huge fan of ACTION and just doing SOMETHING to start getting the clutter out of your house, I totally understand if you’re not quite there yet.

Clutter comes with emotional baggage. Sometimes removing the clutter removes the baggage, but sometimes we have to get our head in the right place first.

woman in striped sweater and jeans against white background getting ready to declutter extra pillows

1. Work on Your Mindset

Here’s what you need to remember:

  • It doesn’t matter how all the stuff came into your home. 
  • It doesn’t matter how MUCH stuff there is. 
  • It doesn’t matter whether you have access to recycling or donation facilities. 
  • It doesn’t matter how much money you spent on all of that stuff.

At this point in your life, NONE of those possessions are serving you, and it’s OKAY to let them go.

You won’t lose ANYTHING by getting the stuff out of your home. Let it go.

You are not eternally responsible for items you’ve inherited from others. Let them go.

You’re not required to save the planet by recycling every bit of fabric or broken toys or anything like that. Let it go.

You don’t have to take on the job of trying to list and sell all the things YOU think might have value. Let them go.

You don’t have to ‘use up’ items you purchased years ago that you never really liked. Let them go.

All you have to worry about is clearing a little bit of space… and then a little more… and then a little more.

2. Stop Adding to the Clutter Problem

If you’re not ready to clear all the existing clutter, at least commit to not adding anything.

And I mean ANYthing.

Before you bring home even a single new object, you must answer these two questions:

  • Do I have a REAL need for this item?
  • What will I remove to make space for this? (also known as the ‘one in, one out’ rule)

It’s even better if you can completely stop shopping and searching for new things to acquire.

  • Don’t shop for entertainment. Avoid strolling through shopping malls, and never EVER go into a store ‘just to look.’
  • Leave garage sale FB groups and other buy/sell/trade groups until you’re ready to use them to ONLY get rid of your own clutter.
  • Block yourself from ebay, deal sites, and any other online places where you browse and buy.

Get a handle now on controlling your clutter-collecting tendencies, and later it will become easier to make real progress on your current piles.

white dining room with minimalist decor after decluttering

3. Watch an Intense Decluttering TV Episode

One thing that always inspires me to toss clutter like crazy is watching old episodes of decluttering shows like ‘Hoarders.’ 

Watching what could happen if we continue collecting clutter is always sobering, sometimes frightening, and usually action-provoking. 

I know that whenever I watch an episode, I come away from it wanting to get rid of EVERYTHING. So motivating!

Just be aware that real-life decluttering is different than what they show on television. Soak up the motivation from watching the show, but use a clutter-clearing method that works for you.

One Last Thing About Clutter Overwhelm

Always remember: There’s no ‘right’ way to declutter, so it’s impossible to do it ‘wrong.’

All you have to do is motivate yourself to take the first tiny step, and from there you can do anything!

You’ve got this!

Your clutter-free home is waiting to meet you. 🙂 

Grab this quick-start list of 62 things you can declutter and never miss. Sign up below to have it sent right to your email box:

More Decluttering Inspiration

Exactly Where to Start Decluttering Your Home

Stop Making These 14 Excuses to Avoid Decluttering Clothes

62 Things to Declutter That You Won’t Miss at All

How to Declutter and Donate Your Stuff Without Regret

8 thoughts on “Do These 3 Things When You’re Overwhelmed By Clutter”

  1. Okay, this has brought me back to wanting to get motivated again. I really need to work on the “how I acquired it, who it was inherited from, and it’s sooo much stuff” mindset and let it go and just start again. Those hoarder shows do really give me a motivation burst of energy! Thank you for another wonderful post! I will keep pushing through (with some meditation).
    -Kayla (Kaytana Crafts)

  2. Thanks for giving permission to throw things away. I can fill a bag every day and it doesn’t matter. No one else wants it. So in the garbage it goes. Let it go! That’s my declutter plan as of tomorrow! Cannot wait!

  3. It is really hard to declutter! I do keep going through my things and paring down, but I do need to do more. Thanks for sharing the post at Share Your Style recently. I was happy to feature your post at last week’s Share Your Style #308. 🙂

    Happy summer to you,
    Barb 🙂

  4. Thanks for your site. I started with my clothes, I went from 170 to 105. and never got rid of many clothes, filled 7 bags and took them to Goodwill what a release for me. I also love crafting and sewing goodness next room.

  5. Hi:
    I’m 81 years old and have never been able to keep my house like I wanted it to be. It always remains in the back of my mind. It’s like a worry that stays with me all the years since I married in 1961.. I never learned organization. Have spent my whole life not feeling like my house was clean enough for company.
    Young ladies learn now so you can have a happy clean organized home, especially for your husband and children. I’m old now and disabled everything is still a mess.
    I feel it’s to late for me.

    1. Phyllis, I struggle with these things too but I am sure it’s never too late. I am going to try and get rid of one thing a day, It soon mounts up. Very slowly but surely. It’s never too late to have a go.

  6. I’m glad I’ve found your blog. You have good info that overlaps but also adds to the conversations I’ve followed on Joshua Becker, Peter Walsh, and Mari Kondo. I’m in my third declutter in five years but this is the one that counts because we are finally committed to downsizing so I’ve set a goal to get rid of at least half of everything we have left…in some cases more. It helps to have that specific goal. My current method (for about two months now) is do do something every day. Some days I do a single drawer, some days I spend an hour or two. I’ve shared your info with friends who are doing similar and they say it is helpful. Thank you!

  7. I printed out some of your helpful suggestions then told my husband that this is my conscience so that I can finally declutter! thank you for being there, it has helped me make the first move. I never thought I could and yet I was able to say
    “I dont need it” and put it in a bag to be taken to a second hand store, also throw a few things away! THANKYOU!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top