The Slow Declutter: A Lower-Stress Way to Clear Your Home

This slow declutter method WORKS for taking charge of clutter! In this post we’ll talk about how to start decluttering when overwhelmed, purging house clutter in a no-stress way, and how to get into the decluttering mentality FAST. 

The best part? With slow decluttering, there’s no “messy middle” when your house seems even more chaotic. Seriously, you really can declutter without making a mess.

This post is a starting point and one of my favorite decluttering tips. If you’re ready to really get moving NOW, read ‘Got Too Much Stuff? Here’s Your Step-by-Step Declutter Plan of Action‘ which has even more details.

Are You Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff?

Are you ready for a good spring cleaning? Or you would be, except you’re looking around at all the piles of “stuff” that have accumulated and you’re so overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering that you can’t even THINK about deep cleaning.

Maybe you decide to ignore it.

Or you run out and buy some storage bins to hide the stuff. But maybe you don’t actually get the clutter into the bins, so they sit around empty and take up even more space.

Ouch. It’s painful to acknowledge, but it happens to many of us.

The #realtruth is that you cannot organize clutter. You must get rid of it.

I hear it every day: ‘My house is so cluttered I don’t know where to start.’ And I get it… I’ve been there! 

Lighten the load on your house and your mind. Let’s talk about how to do a slow declutter…

The #realtruth is that you cannot organize clutter. You must get rid of it. #simplify Click To Tweet

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Negative Effects of Clutter

I’ve decluttered more than 800 items in less than two months with NO stress and NO mess. Learn more about the Slow Declutter method, and why it’s perfect for overwhelmed overthinkers… #simplify #organizing #tidyhouse #decluttering #minimalism #organizedhome #lifehacks #declutter #simpleliving #buildyourbestlife #ftj
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Did you know Americans who rent storage units spend an average of $1,000 every year to store their clutter? We also waste nearly an hour every day searching through clutter to find important items like keys, paperwork, etc.

Have you ever watched a show about hoarders? Homes destroyed, bank accounts demolished, sometimes relationships and lives irreparably damaged. Now that is some hard-core clutter, and I truly hope you never have to deal with anything that extreme. Still, it’s an example of what can happen if we were to let clutter take over. And judging by the number of professional organizers and clutter consultants, it happens far more often than we probably think.

Even if you are not to the “hoarding” point — and I really hope you aren’t — even a little clutter here and there makes life more difficult.

Related: How Much Is Your Clutter Costing You? – A Mess Free Life


Break the Clutter Cycle Without Overwhelm

Obviously, to truly end the clutter problem, you need to stop bringing any extra stuff into your home. But say you can do that. How do you deal with everything you’ve already got?

Although I strongly believe in planning and completing most major projects in two weeks, decluttering is something that doesn’t always fit into that. I think you can declutter in parallel with other projects, because it’s something you can work on in just a few minutes a day. It doesn’t require hours of constant brain power or hard physical labor.

Certainly, there may be times when decluttering is more intense than others, but for the most part you can set aside ten minutes or so every day to work and then be done with it until the next day. Working in this way helps you build a long-term decluttering habit, rather than a quick purge that leaves you wondering whether or not you can maintain the clutter-free lifestyle.

Related: 10 Slow and Steady Strategies for Practical Decluttering – Be More With Less

The wins of daily slow decluttering are like resetting your brain with a positive “I can do this” attitude that will carry you through whatever else you need to do during the day. With consistent effort, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly slow decluttering makes a BIG difference in your home.

Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism

How to Begin the Slow Declutter

Understand that this is a long-term process. You won’t be finished in a week or two, but you WILL feel more confident in your abilities as you continue.

>> CLICK HERE to Pin these tips for later. <<

First, choose the room or area that means the most to you.

I recommend your bedroom if you need an oasis to escape to every evening.

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Or, if you spend a lot of time frustrated by your food preparation efforts, begin in the kitchen. A cluttered kitchen is often the result of impulse “gadget” buys which we have no place to store and no actual need for. Get rid of the gadgets.

Ask yourself the tough questions and answer honestly and quickly. Is the item broken? Do you use the item often? If not, will something else do the job? Do you LOVE it? Does it fit you or your lifestyle? The slightest hesitation in answering means it needs to go!

Try something like “10 items a day” as a theme for your decluttering. 10 items a day may not sound like much, but it adds up to about 300 items a month. Do that for 6 months, and you will have eliminated nearly 2000 items from your home.

If you want to step it up just a bit, try “100 items in a week.”

You could also set your timer to declutter for 10 or 15 minutes a day, getting rid of as many things as possible in that time period. You may or may not choose to count the items. What’s most important is getting them out of your house.

Think in rounds. A slow declutter may take several rounds to finish. That’s okay. Do what you can, concentrating on removing what you can without creating a bigger mess. Eventually you’ll get through everything.

Be prepared. Have a trash bag and a donations box handy during each of your decluttering sessions. Deliver donations as soon as possible.

Related: Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley

Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism

Decluttering Obstacles to Avoid

Don’t shuffle the clutter. Don’t ever set anything aside to “think about later.” Once you’ve made a decision about an item, follow through.

Don’t assign monetary value to unused items. That kitchen gadget you spent $97 on last year and used once? Unless you are TRULY strapped for cash and can sell it IMMEDIATELY, just donate the thing, releasing the item and the guilt from your life.

Don’t get too ambitious. Whatever you do, don’t suddenly decide to declutter your entire walk-in master closet and pull everything out at once. Unless you have an entire day and a LOT of fortitude, at the end of the day you will find yourself either shoving everything off the bed onto the floor or throwing it all back into the closet and having it look even worse than when you began. Instead, go through only a few items until you reach your daily item or time goal.

Don’t declutter anyone else’s stuff. Toss it into a box or laundry basket and let them deal with it.

Don’t give up. You can do this!

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Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism


The Win

You know you’re winning at decluttering when you reach the point where you begin donating your empty storage bins! When that happens, do a happy dance and celebrate the positive steps you’ve taken to Build Your Best Life!

Are you ready to begin a slow declutter? Join the private Your Decluttered Life Facebook Group for encouragement and regular group challenges. It’s a safe place to share your story and celebrate your success!



If you liked this post, please take a moment to Pin it or share on your favorite social media channel. Thank you!

overwhelmed woman and text above white couch in clutter-free living room

Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism

Reclaim your home and your sanity with a mess-free Slow Declutter! It works AND you don’t have to tear apart your entire house in a weekend. I’ve been decluttering just a few minutes every day since I started this a couple of months ago, and I can’t believe my entire house is almost finished! #tidyhouse #simpleliving #decluttering #intentionalliving #ftj #declutter #simplify #organizing #minimalism #organizedhome #buildyourbestlife

Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism
Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism
Lighten the load on your house and your mind with a slow declutter -- clear out the stuff without overwhelm or making a bigger mess. Click through for tips… #declutter | #simplify | #organizing | #minimalism

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19 thoughts on “The Slow Declutter: A Lower-Stress Way to Clear Your Home”

  1. Great advice here! If we keep up with it on a regular basis it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger’s Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

  2. This is a great idea. I have slowed the clutter by setting a rule that I must throw away or give away at least one item for every new item I bring into the house. It might be time to step it up by getting rid of more than I bring in! Have a lovely weekend and a happy Easter!

    1. Hi Christie! Yes, maybe get rid of two items for every one you bring in. 😉 Would love to hear if that works! Thank you for the visit and the comment!

  3. Great article. This is what I have been doing for a couple months. Some day’s I only do a drawer or a cupboard, some more day’s I do a lot more. But each little bit is a step in the right direction.

  4. The point you make about not assigning a monetary value to things hit home to me. There are a lot of things we own that cost a bit of money but don’t get used. Whenever I look at them, I think about how much it cost and rather than just come to the realization that I’m never going to use it and just get rid of it, I keep it around way too long. I’m looking at you, cross-country skis!

  5. I have been decluttering for years. When I lost weight it was easy. I just got rid of ‘big’ clothes. I dropped off 3 large bags of stuff at Goodwill this morning and sold a box of books at Half Price Books. It felt great to empty my car. I had mixed feelings about the konmari method. I refused to dump stuff on a floor or a bed. That is too overwhelming. I would rather go through one section of closet or one drawer or shelf at a time. The job still gets done without creating a bigger mess

  6. I have started decluttering since I needed to redesign my workroom which is upstairs. Some of the crates are now empty which I can use elsewhere in the home. Even sorting a shelf or a cupboard hasn’t taken long and it feels good because I haven’t put pressure on myself to do it. In fact it has been cathartic because after being immobile for over a year and now on the mend, I was starting to get claustrophobic and now feel the urge to be a neat freak

    1. Hi Diane! I love this! I’m so glad you’re feeling better these days and becoming a successful declutterer. Isn’t it amazing how much more we enjoy our homes as we declutter? Keep up the great work!

  7. I actually started doing this last week! It feels like a weight has been lifted everytime I get a box out the front door!

  8. airbnb management sydney

    I agree, slow declutter gives less stress to home owners. Thanks for sharing your optimistic view. It’s inspiring.

  9. I agree with slow de-cluttering. I read the Marie Kondo book and decided immediately that making a big pile of anything would overwhelm me. I followed the instructions but did one drawer or one section of closet at a time. I filled my donation bags and put them in my car. Since I take a granddaughter to swim club once a week, I had to empty and clean my car. That means I need to donate the items.

    1. Hi Linda! It sounds like you’ve been very busy! Taking your granddaughter to swim club sounds like the perfect opportunity to get all the donations gone quickly! 😉 Thank you for your comment!

  10. Hi: Your advice is like getting “permission”to take time to declutter for those of us so challenged – without the judgment;)
    I am doing a bit at a time (not a hoarder but still . . . .). At any rate, this is helpful and a relief it is something others experience. I don’t bring in more clutter – I don’t want one more thing. I just want to get rid of what is here and I’m progression. Thanks – so helpful.


  11. I enjoyed the part where you suggested not attaching monetary values to things. When I look at a pile of unwanted/unused items I see dollar signs. I I find it paralyzing, somewhere in the recesses of my brain I believe I might get up the nerve to advertise something on my neighborhood app but I know in my heart of hearts I’m not a salesman. Something I’ve been working on.

  12. Just found this advise on Pinterest and love it. I am entering empty nest section of my life and have 4 kids worth of stuff they left behind, not to mention a spouse that likes stuff without getting rid of other stuff, lol. Having permission to do it slowly and not all at once is a mentality saver. Thank You!

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