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how to declutter your house without getting overwhelmed

THIS is how you declutter your house WITHOUT getting overwhelmed!

Written by in Declutter
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So you need a little help figuring out how to declutter your house without getting overwhelmed & guess what, you’re not alone!   Decluttering experts have made things really confusing with all the layers of joy and unicorn dust they’ve added to everything.  Luckily decluttering is a lot easier to do than you think.  Y

The trick to making it easy is to dial in on what your real issue is…

And for 9 out of 10 people, the reason decluttering is hard is either their emotions, not having a good plan, or some mix of the two.

Today, I won’t talk about the actual emotions that make decluttering hard. That’s a whole separate post. Instead, we’re going to focus on the planning side so you can actually take action. Make progress. And drop all the heaviness of feeling overwhelmed by your clutter now. I know you’re ready to get that crap out of there so let’s dive into this post.

My five-step process for decluttering your home is straight to the point, no fluff and kinda gets a little dark around step #4 – but hey, it gets the job done lol.  

how to declutter your house without getting overwhelmed

How To Declutter Your House Without Getting Overwhelmed. Finally!

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STEP 1 | Be realistic about how much time you can spend decluttering & when you’ll do it.    

You want to declutter the entire house in a day?

Sorry but that may not be possible.  If this is your first big decluttering mission in a while, you’re going to need a little more than a day to do it right.  To make sure you succeed, don’t start off by biting more than you can chew. That’s the fastest way to fail.  

Small decluttering projects are the key to decluttering your house.  They are a lot easier to manage – and you can typically start and finish in one sitting.  That’s super important for staying motivated. You can tackle one small decluttering project a day or do several on the weekend.  Just do what works for your schedule.  

Instead, plan your decluttering sessions 

Whether you want to spend a full day decluttering or declutter your home over 30-days, you need to plan for it.  If you want to have something to show for yourself at the end of your decluttering session(s). Start by checking your schedule. How much time do you want to spend decluttering & when do you want to block off time to do it? Be sure to set reminders – be serious about it.   

  • How much time will you spend decluttering each time?  5 minutes, 30 minutes or all day?
  • When do you want to declutter?   Every day, just a few days out of the week or weekends?

STEP 2 | Don’t go in half-cocked – get everything you need to declutter. 

Regardless of what areas or rooms you’re decluttering, the tools you’ll need to carry out the mission will stay the same for the most part. Luckily, you only need a few things and you’ve probably already got most of them!   

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Things you need to declutter your house quickly /

  • Something to write on.  You’re going to need labels. Paper or my favorite, sticky notes, will work perfectly for this.  
  • Something to write with – a pen or sharpie! 
  • Three big enough things to hold stuff in plus large trash bags.  The big enough things can be baskets, boxes, containers, or a mix of all the above. 
  • Tape – any type is fine.  Except maybe wire or electric tape – only an overthinker would write that! 

Step 3 |  Be prepared to go all the way with your clutter

Sure, how you start decluttering is important but how you end your decluttering session is everything!   If you don’t get the clutter out of your house – or to wherever it’s supposed to be – all you’ve done is move clutter around. So did you really accomplish anything? Nope. Sometimes people undertake the challenge of decluttering, create monstrous piles of clutter, and then fizzle out because it’s soo much stuff and they don’t know what to do with it.

The trick to making sure you don’t just move stuff around, is to use a very simple sorting system so that you know exactly where the clutter needs to go as you sort.  Then set aside a block of time to make sure all the clutter gets where it needs to be. It’s the absolute best way to prevent your house from turning into a disaster while you’re decluttering.  Not to mention,

For example, while sorting, when you pick up an item that you think is trash, you put it in the trash pile.  And can you guess where you should take the trash pile once you’re done sorting everything? You guessed it – to the trash bin!  That old mickey sweatshirt can go into the *Goodwill* pile. But smell the armpits first. If they stink, it goes in the trash as well. Told ya decluttering is easy.  

Below are the five sorting categories you should use to sort your clutter: 

  • Trash or Recycle (Will not be of value or service to anyone, not in good condition, is broken, or outdated)
  • Donate  (Is in good condition and can be useful to someone now)
  • Sell (Is in good condition, worth my time to sell and can be sold quickly)
  • Keep & Relocate (I currently use this, without it, my day-to-day would be affected and it’s just in the wrong place) 
  • 30 Days From Today – If you can’t make a decision on an item immediately, put it in this very special box and write “Throw Away On (the date that is 30 days later)”.  You can sort through the box whenever up until that date you wrote. When the day comes, toss it!

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ // The Smart Girls Guide To A Clean And Organized Houe | 10 Actionable Tips for more ideas on how to create and keep your house clean and organized!

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Step 4 | Hit stubborn clutter with stone cold logic

Ok so I said I wouldn’t be talking about the impact emotions have on decluttering but, this step is all about getting your emotions out of the way. Think of a friend or a celebrity that’s known for getting straight to business. Let’s do what we came to do. No small talk. You have cancer. Here are your options. Please hurry, I go to lunch in 5-minutes.

Yes, that’s a little (extraordinarily) cold. Clinical. Heartless. And sometimes, when you find yourself being led by your emotions and you’re doing things that don’t align with your goals, you gotta get a little tough with yourself. Being practical & logical is the best antidote to that long list of colorful reasons you come up with to keep stuff around.

Heck, think about relationships where you saw plenty of red flags – or flashing stop signs – along the way but you let your emotions talk into going forward with that relationship that was doomed before it even started. The logical side in your head tried to tell you this wasn’t going to be good lol. And now you need your logical angel to help you get out of the mess you’re in. Am I talking about my life right now? I don’t know maybe lol.

But I say all that to say it’s ok to lead with your heart but let logic win sometimes.


1 |  Have I used this in the past 365 days? 

If the answer is no, toss it. If it’s yes, keep going. 

2 | If I get rid of this, will it negatively impact my day-to-day life or my life in the next 365 days?

If the answer is no, toss it. If it’s yes, keep going.

3 | If I toss it now but need it later, is it something I can replace?  Buy, rent or download?  

If the answer is yes, toss it. If it’s no, keep going.

4 | If the house caught on fire, would I fight the flames to get this out safely?  

If the answer is yes, keep it. If it’s no, let it go!

SUPER-DUPER IMPORTANT TIP / Make this process short & sweet! Give yourself one minute to make a decision on each item you sort.  If you still can’t make a decision after one-minute, put the item into the 30-Day Box mentioned above. Do it like this so that you can make a lot of progress in a short amount of time & not let indecisiveness slow you down! 

Step 5 | Declutter with turbo speed by letting the bigger picture keep you motivated.

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed or lose focus when decluttering your house.  Especially if you have a lot of stuff. Clearing one surface after another, sorting everything, going back and forth to goodwill – the whole process can take quite a bit of time and energy.  

Thinking about what you want your house to look when you finish or how it got cluttered in the first place can help guide your decision-making process and keep you motivated.  It’ll also inspire you to develop habits that’ll keep your house clutter-free in the future.  

Here are a few practical questions to ask yourself to help create your big-picture goal.  

  • Is there any particular reason why the house is cluttered?
  • Why do you want to declutter your house now? 
  • When you walk through the door, what do you want your house to look like?

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ // How To Get A Clean House For Life!  71 Super Actionable Ideas for tips and tricks to keep your house clean without pulling your hair out!

Where to start decluttering your house when you’re clueless

And finally, the million-dollar question – where should you start?  Honestly, that’s a great question that you’ve probably been overthinking so I am happy to point you in the right direction.  For the record, there is no wrong place to start – not getting started is the wrong answer!  

Below are three options you can choose from if you don’t know where to start decluttering your house: 

1 | The Touch Rule

Don’t start with a decluttering project at all!. If you don’t really have the time or motivation to plan a big decluttering overhaul, don’t.  Instead, use the Touch Rule which allows you to get into the habit of decluttering without going out of your way to do it. Consider it a minor lifestyle change.

Here’s how the Touch Rule works – whatever you touch, you declutter immediately. When you take off your clothes, you put them in the right place – on a hanger or in the hamper – not the floor.  Grab the mail out the mailbox and Instead of putting it with the pile of old mail, you read it, file it, scan it, toss it or shred it. You get it right?    

2  | Declutter Something Else Entirely

Choose something like your purse or your car. I know it sounds like we are getting off task but hear me out! The items you have to sort out of your purse will naturally lead you to other areas of the house. For instance, a lot of the items in your purse may belong in your bathroom or your office. One of those rooms can be your next decluttering project.

This will allow you to get into the hang of managing small decluttering projects and build momentum with small wins so that by the time you get to the worst areas, you’ll be a decluttering pro! 

3 | Start In The Bathroom

Start in your bathroom.  Why not? You use it every day, it’s not a huge area and it should be fairly straightforward in regards to what to keep & what to toss. Once you finish that one, knock out the rest of the bathrooms.  

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You may want to read these posts to help you tackle clutter /

Declutter room-by-room with this epic list

So you’re ready to rock n’ roll but could use a little help on exactly what you should be clearing from each room.  No worries. Here’s a list of things you can declutter and it’s broken up by rooms so it’s super easy to follow!   

Anywhere In The House

trash or items to be recycled

anything that you don’t know what it is

anything you can’t use

duplicates that don’t get used (keep your favorite and ditch the rest!)

old electronics like phones, chargers and cords

product boxes like phone boxes

paper clutter like bills, transcripts, school work, etc. 

decor you do not like


clear furniture surfaces

Items on the floor

junk drawers

clothes you will never wear

clothes that don’t fit

damaged clothing

shoes you won’t wear again

shoes that are in bad condition

clothing you haven’t worn in over a year

old underwear

socks with holes or without mates

tarnished and broken jewelry

worn or damaged luggage, bags, purses or backpacks


damaged or worn sheets and blankets

stained pillows

flat pillows 

excess blankets

outdated comforter sets


old make-up

raggedy towels 

empty product bottles

old fingernail polish

expired beauty products

old cleaning supplies

raggedy towels

excess towels



junk drawers

condiment packages

expired refrigerator food

old frozen foods

old food in the pantry

chipped glasses and mugs

outdated dishes

dishes without the rest of the set

plastic containers without lids or lids without containers

excess coffee mugs

raggedy dish towels

old appliances 

Living Room

books and old movies (for example, DVDs)

unnecessary furniture

outdated furniture

magazines or books you won’t read again

old remote controls

cords and wires

old electronics

unused gaming systems and electronics

personal items 


unfiled papers

unnecessary paperwork like old bills (everything is online)

dried markers and pens

excess amounts of office supplies 

owners manuals for products

random electronics cords + cables

outdated phones and electronics


paint cans 

boxes you haven’t opened in over 1 year

excess products or things

broken equipment

Broken sports equipment

Anything broken

Let’s recap

Decluttering your house does not have to be complicated. Get started right now by simply choosing to start. You don’t need to spend your time reading one post after another. Use this brief outline & trust your instincts.

How to declutter your house without getting overwhelmed:

Step 1 | Plan when you will declutter and how much time you’ll spend doing it.

Step 2 | Get everything you need to declutter from start to finish.

Step 3 | Be prepared to get your clutter where it needs to go quickly by sorting into one of five categories.

Step 4 | Use the practical, highly effective clutter busting questions to quickly declutter tough areas.

Step 5 | Make sure you know why you’re decluttering and what the bigger picture is to help you stay motivated throughout the process.

Good things are meant to be shared! Save this to your Pinterest account so you can actually find it later and so others can see you’ve got all the good stuff!

how to declutter your house

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