Simple Ways to Declutter When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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When the doorbell rings unexpectedly, do you panic? Not because you’re scared of who is on the other side. But because you have piles of crap and disorganized mess in plain sight, and you’re downright mortified for anyone to see it? Do you need some simple ways to declutter when you don’t know where to start? Been there, done that. And I’m here for you.

Listen, I’ve been very overwhelmed with clutter, too many times to count. I’ve searched high and low for decluttering tips and advice. I honestly feel better when I see how many people need help with getting organized at home. I’m not alone, and neither are you.

Despite making progress, I still sometimes struggle when it comes to decluttering. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

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The Struggle to Declutter

A lot of us struggle to get rid of things. We worry that if we get rid of something, we will end up needing it again but won’t have it. Or maybe we keep things for sentimental reasons. We like our stuff. And we we do decide that we need to declutter, we just don’t know where to start.

Decluttering Will Make You Feel Better

Decluttering not only gives you more space physically but mentally, too! You have more room in your home, sure. But you also have more room in your mind when you have eliminated the junk that is causing your mental stress and distractions.

When things are out of order, chaos can create stress and anxiety. But cleaning and organizing can help reduce those feelings and create a sense of order that feels peaceful and calming. And once you declutter, you are hopefully more mindful of future purchases and bringing in unnecessary items.

Simple Ways to Declutter

Sometimes we struggle with making progress because we get stuck on what to keep and what to let go. What if we threw it out and want it later? That’s a hard one for me. When I’m stuck on what to throw out, I ask myself these questions:

Have I used it in the past year?

Will I use it in the coming year?

Would I buy this again?

Asking those questions and honestly answering will often help me move forward.

Need extra help? Try the Decluttering Journal on Amazon.

Start Small When You Begin to Declutter

If decluttering your home feels like you are facing a huge mountain, then start small. Maybe just begin with a closet or pantry. Or even a drawer! The most important thing is to just start.

Another tip to counter overwhelming feelings is to schedule a block of time – whether it’s a 15-minute block or a 2-hour block. Schedule a time when you won’t have interruptions or distractions. Play some good music and set a timer. Do what you can in that amount of time and then move on to something else for a bit. Just make sure you keep utilizing blocks of time until the job is done!

Declutter with the Box Strategy

If you’re unsure of how to organize your decluttering process, use the box strategy. Simply designate four boxes for sorting. Label each one with “trash,” “donate/sell,” “storage,” and ‘keep.”

Trash – Toss any item you do not need or want, but that is not worth donating or selling.

Donate or Sell – If you think someone could benefit from the item, donate it or sell it. Selling options include holding a garage sale or listing it on eBay or Craigslist.

Storage – If you don’t use an item regularly but just can’t part with it, put it in storage.

Keep – These will be items that you use on a regular basis. But ask yourself: Do you really need it?

Letting Go of Sentimental Items

Okay, be honest. Is your old prom dressing still hanging in your closet? Do you have a box of birthday cards under the bed? It’s okay to let go. Really.

It’s okay to keep sentimental items and memorabilia, but you really need to think through what you should keep vs. let go.

Sometimes, these items are more about the memory than the object itself. Is it the item that brings you joy? Or the memory? If the item is about the memory or something that belonged to someone special, then keep it if it makes you happy.

However, keeping an item because you feel like you have to is a no-no. Just because someone passed an item along to you does not mean you have to keep it. Nor should you feel guilty about getting rid of it.

If you simply can’t bear to toss everything, consider keeping part of a collection. For example, one necklace from your grandmother’s costume jewelry collection. Or one baby blanket rather than all of the nursery bedding.

Stop Expecting Perfection

Chances are, even with decluttering, your house will never be “perfect.” No one that I know lives in a home that looks like the photos we see in magazines. So let go of perfection and set realistic expectations for yourself.

Unexpected company used to set me off in a big way. If my house wasn’t perfect, I couldn’t relax if someone came over.

I’ll never forget what a wise friend told me when I was fretting about him seeing my home a bit messy. He laughed and said:

Hey, it’s okay. I live in my home, too.

That was nearly 20 years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. Whenever I worry about my home being less than perfect, I remind myself that our family lives here.

It’s not a model home, it’s not a museum, and it’s not going to look like one! Just remembering this one thing helps me so much to settle down and have a realistic expectation for what my home should look like most days.

Really, if you can start eliminating clutter, you’ll eliminate a lot of overwhelm. That itself will make a tremendous difference in how your home looks and feels.

Ready to Start Decluttering?

If you’re ready to declutter and need help getting started, check out this simple Decluttering Journal. It’s free and you can download it below! It includes checklists by room and a weekly schedule. I hope it helps!

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