I don’t know about you, but lately my house feels cluttered. By most accounts, I doubt anyone would think my fairly minimal home *looks* cluttered, but I didn’t write looks, I wrote “feels”. And the point we feel clutter is different for each of us. For me, it’s when it becomes a little more time consuming to put things away, find homes for new items, or laundry becomes harder to keep up with.
Over the last two years, we seemed to alternate between huge interest in decluttering and organizing our homes, and refilling them with massive online buying. Weeks spent on lockdown in our homes has transitioned into being busier than ever.
This seems to have left many overwhelmed by the stuff in their homes. Even if the stuff is tucked away in attics or basements, or in closets and drawers, it is there. It has a weight, and a voice. Eventually it demands our time and energy to deal with. So how do we make sure the items in our homes are worthy of that effort?
I am a huge believer in keeping things simple. There are so many factors into why we accumulate more than we can manage: how we were raised, the ease of buying, the relentless pressure to consume more and more goods, excessive gifts from well-meaning family or friends. It can feel really good to acquire new things, definitely! Then that feeling goes away, and we are looking for the next new thing.
5 tips to declutter for less overwhelm
Start with storage: Basements, attics and garages being overwhelming by themselves. If they are cluttered with things we don’t need, they are stealing space from the things we are keeping in our homes that should go into storage. By decluttering a storage area, we can now declutter closets and living spaces in our home with the things we need, but don’t need great access to.
Or, start small: No time for a big decluttering project? Start small by picking a closet, cabinet or drawer. Pick an area that will give you quick results and a feeling of accomplishment. Those small successes will help keep you motivated when you are overwhelmed by the excess.
Then, keep it going: Consistency will go a long way. Keep donation bags and boxes ready, so you can do small decluttering sessions daily or weekly. It didn’t all come in at once, and it won’t all go out at once.
Use the process (I have a blog post here) to pull it all out, sort and edit, and get the items back into the space. Remember it will look worse before it starts to look better! Don’t give up, you will be so happy and feel lighter when you are finished.
Enlist help: It can be a friend, family member or you can enlist a professional. The truth is that when we are feeling overwhelmed by too much stuff, it can seem an impossible task to get it sorted and organized. Having another set of hands and another person’s perspective about our belongings can be a huge help!
Pro Tip: Leave room to grow! Try to declutter more than the amount that exactly fits a space. Declutter enough that you will have empty spaces, so you can feel comfortable adding if needed.
Now that you are in the process of decluttering, use these tips to maintain your clean spaces.
- Follow the “one in, one out” rule. When you make a new purchase, make sure to donate or recycle the old item.
- Store things at the store. Whenever possible, buy things as you need them instead of stockpiling bulk purchases if you don’t have the space.
- Be mindful when shopping. It’s become easier than ever to swipe up or click now to buy things. Give yourself time to really think about an item more than once, to decide if it is something that will be used, needed and loved.