Are you completely paralysed by the mess and clutter in your home?

When clutter is spilling out of your drawers, wardrobes and boxes, it can feel like an impossible mountain to climb. 

A cluttered house becomes impossible to clean, and the more clutter you have, the less motivated you feel to get it sorted. 

How to declutter when you're completely overwhelmed by the mess

My issue has always been keeping things “just in case”. I hang on to dresses that I “might wear one day” because I loved wearing them five years ago. 

I also struggle to find the time to focus on decluttering whole areas of the house. It feels like tidying just one room takes up an entire weekend and a whole lot of energy. 

I love the Marie Kondo method of decluttering, but it’s a huge commitment to overhaul your entire house following her KonMari system. 

But her TV show and books are extremely motivating! So having watched her Tidying Up show on Netflix, I found my own way to declutter using some of her principles. 

One of the key ones was to follow the categories she set out. This at least gave me a starting point, clothing! This is a great place to start as you can see real results that impact on your every day life right away. 

Clearing space in your wardrobes and bedroom drawers really does feel so good. 

But how can you get started with tackling the clutter if you’re totally overwhelmed by the mess?

Try these top tips for decluttering when you’re paralysed by clutter: 

Put some music on

One of the best ways you can motivate yourself is to make it fun. Get your favourite playlist on and start dancing!

Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes that won’t restrict you as you pull things out of drawers and sit on the floor to organise things. 

As part of this, limit the distractions that may deter you from getting the decluttering done. 

Do not start decluttering 10 minutes before you need to get out the house for a chore or appointment. Make sure you have a good chunk of time to dedicate and focus on what you are doing. 

Challenge yourself to do just one drawer 

The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. 

Instead of looking at the mess as a whole, start with just one small area. Get that declutter and organised, then move on to another small area of the house. 

If even that small area feels like it’s impossible to even start, just begin with one item. Hold it in your hands and really think about whether you need it. Just focus on that one thing, then ditch it or set it to one side and repeat.

Try to have categories as your sort items, so for example in your kitchen you may have piles for your takeaway menus, small kitchen gadgets, baking, etc. I find that sorting things into piles makes it much easier to then find it a place when reorganising.

Work your way up to the larger jobs, because once you’ve gotten 10 smaller things out of the way and seen a real difference then you will find it so much easier to get going with the big stuff. 

How to declutter when you're overwhelmed by mess

Write a list 

Instead of standing in the middle of your house and staring in horror at the mess, take a methodical approach to it. 

In order to try to get over the overwhelm, you need to take emotion out of the process to a certain extent. 

Make a list of the things that need doing. You could break it down into areas of the home, so bedroom, kitchen, garage etc and then have sub-categories such as books, clothes, makeup etc. 

One of the best ways of motivating yourself can be as simple as ticking off items on a list. 

Lay it all out

When you’re decluttering a specific area such as your garage or category such as your clothes, get it all out in front of you. 

That may mean moving all of the items to another room to give you space. This method means there is no stopping and starting, you just get it done right now. 

Once everything is out, you can’t go back and not get this task done! Plus with everything in front of you, you will be able to see the scale of how much you actually have. 

With things like clothes this can be a really shocking moment, and may motivate you to get rid of more. 

When look at things, ask yourself questions such as: 

  • When did I last use/wear/look at this?
  • Does this enrich my life?
  • Do I have more than one of these, and do I need more than one of these?

Try it on

If you’re on the fence about keeping certain clothes, then try them on. 

I have often hung on to dresses for a long time, because I felt they might be right for a special occasion in the future. 

However after a few years they either no longer fit or they just don’t suit me any more. 

Putting on the outfits that you’re hanging onto for “some day” can help you make the final decision about whether to keep them. 

Stop keeping things “just in case”

One of the main reasons for hoarding can be that you think you may one day need to use them. 

Of course there is an argument for this, but if you’ve been hanging on to that scrap wood in your garage for 10 years then chances are you’ll be fine for the next 10 years without it there!

Remove easier items first

Do you have a room, loft or garage that is piled high with stuff?

Start with the smaller, easier items first so that you can gain access to the larger things. Grab the stuff that you know right away you can ditch, and remove them from the equation. 

Once you can reach them, remove larger items that you can ditch to make way for clearing the rest of the stuff that you may struggle with deciding on whether or not to keep. 

Get your children involved

Be wary of getting young children involved in the decluttering of toys! When you ask them to clear out toys, all of a sudden every single thing they own becomes really vital. 

However it’s nice to teach your children right now about saying goodbye to things that they don’t need any more. 

Tell your children that you need to clear out the clothes that don’t fit them anymore and to give toys they have grown out of to other children who would like to play with them. 

Children love to help with tidying and cleaning, especially younger ones, so ask them to help you get toys out for sorting. If your kids are resisting you getting rid of any toys, wait until they are out of the house to declutter their toy collection. 

Declutter into categories

Have a bag for recycling, a bag for rubbish to be thrown away and a bag for things to be donated to a charity shop. 

Have places where you can put bags that are full so that they are out of the way. By clearing these bags out of sight then you can see progress being made and move around rooms easier. You will also be able to make way for more cupboards to be emptied and decluttered. 

Improve your storage 

How to declutter when you're overwhelmed by mess

If you feel new pieces of furniture will help you then invest in some better wardrobes and drawers. 

One of the best ways to make your storage work well for you is to organise it so all of your stuff is in categories. This makes things easier to tidy away and to find when you need them!

Sometimes all you need to do is adapt or improve on what you already have. 

Adding baskets, boxes, shelves and hooks to your existing storage can help you to organise things and make them look less cluttered. 

You will find your storage works for you so much better once you have cleared excess clutter. The best storage in the world will struggle when you have too much stuff to begin with. 

Some brilliant items for improving your storage are:

I hope these tips give you some inspiration for getting your home organised. 

You may also like these posts: 

How to KonMari when you’re a busy mama

101 things to declutter right now

How to declutter when you're paralysed by the mess