My House is So Cluttered I Don’t Know Where to Start
If you feel like you’re drowning in clutter and have no idea where to even begin to tackle it, I want you to know that I’ve been where you are. When you feel guilty for letting clutter take over your life, but don’t have the time or the motivation to start.
Maybe it’s been like this for so long that you don’t even notice it anymore.
Until someone stops by unexpectedly that is.
No matter how cluttered your home is, there are quick wins that can take you from a cluttered mess to a peaceful home with just minutes at a time.
Where to Start to Declutter
The first thing you need to do if you’re surrounded by clutter isn’t to pick up a garbage bag.
It’s to change your mindset about the mess.
You can’t get to the other side of this if you’re feeling guilty or incapable of improving the situation.
What I want you to do is take a look around and think (or say out loud) ‘okay, this is messy, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
Then I need you to do whatever it takes to stop the clutter from coming in – or at least slow it to a slow trickle.
Unless you live alone, you probably don’t have full control over every single item that comes into the house.
If you have kids, you are actually raising little clutter magnets.
Check out this post about the toys we got rid of when we minimized our toys or this one about our toy rotation system to get started on kids’ stuff!
Stop going shopping for mental health, stop buying things just because they’re on sale.
Envision where something will go in your home before you buy it.
Not the home you hope to have one day or the office space you hope to set up – make purchases based on the life you have now.
Not the life you hope you will have later.
Unique Decluttering Advice
The most controversial decluttering/cleaning advice I’ve ever given fits here.
Throw away your dirty dishes.
If you’re stuck trying to keep your house clean and can never even get to the decluttering part, you’ll be stuck in this cycle forever.
If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.
This can be the day that you actually change something and finally take control of your home.
Throw away your dirty dishes, eat off of paper plates, focus on the task at hand.
Simplify your life every which way you can so you can finally make some progress.
The Number One Rule in Decluttering
Plastic bins do NOT make clutter better.
Before you get tempted to run to Target to buy a ton of organizing supplies, let me explain to you why it’s a waste of money.
You can’t buy your way out of a clutter problem.
Shopping for organization will only add to your mess unless you have a really good plan laid out first.
How to Get Motivated to Declutter
Now I usually preach AGAINST wasting time, but trust me on this one.
Get on Youtube and watch any video about decluttering that comes up.
My favorite is anything from the Minimal Mom.
Pick a video anywhere under 10 minutes.
Our goal here is to get motivated, not waste an afternoon watching other people declutter their houses.
How Long to Spend Decluttering
My advice is always to set a timer for 15 minutes and just declutter as fast as you can until the timer goes off.
Over time, I’ve realized listening to 3 or 4 songs is actually more effective.
Who knew that dancing around while decluttering actually helps you to stay motivated?
Another thing that keeps me motivated is sending a before video to my husband if he’s at work while I’m doing this.
We use the Marco Polo app, so it’s really easy for me to send him a quick view of the train wreck before I start.
I usually set a 5 minute timer when I’m at home alone with my kids and just see how much I can get done.
I’m here to tell you that you will absolutely amaze yourself with how much you can accomplish in just 5 minutes.
Whether you have 5 minutes to dedicate to your house or 15 minutes or an entire day…taking a video for someone is the best way I’ve found to stay motivated.
It gives you a satisfying before and after, but it also holds you accountable.
How to Declutter a Room Fast
Another great way to stay motivated is to make quick progress.
You only make quick progress by staying focused and working on one room at a time.
Our kitchen is the heart of our home, so we always accumulate the most clutter there.
The kitchen is also usually the easiest to declutter because it’s where we end up with tons of duplicates.
In 5 minutes, I bet you can go through your kitchen and dig out at least a handful of duplicate items (think extra ice cream scoops, can openers, etc.)
This is what we did when we minimized our kitchen and here’s how we organized our small kitchen it after!
The best way to do this is to empty your utensil drawer (or any drawer or shelf you’re working on) and only put back what you know you use on a regular basis.
If you don’t use it on a daily or at least weekly basis, let it go.
Throw it in a box and take it to your local Goodwill or other donation drop off center.
How to Handle Paper Clutter
I wrote this post about how to handle paper clutter, but here’s the gist:
The single best thing I ever did to keep our counters clean was to start a paper clutter bin.
Get a somewhat decorative box or basket and label it “paper”.
I love this one that I bought for just a few dollars on Amazon.
From now on, every single paper that comes into your home that isn’t an immediate recycling bin item, throw into this box.
This way all of your paper clutter is always contained.
Plus, you know exactly where to look any time you need a paper.
How to Handle “What If” Items
If you’re holding onto something “just in case” you need it at some point in the future, now is a great time to let it go.
Our goal here is to declutter and take our homes from giant, disorganized storage units into actual homes.
Be selective about the things you allow to take up space in your house.
What are “Just in Case” or “What If” Items?
- Clothes you hope you’ll fit into again someday
- Gifts from others that you feel guilty donating
- Baby clothes and baby items for your “maybe baby”
- Hand me downs for someone else’s kids
- Broken items you plan to repair someday
- Extras or duplicates of just about anything you own – chances are, you’re keeping these “just in case” your current one breaks
If you’ve been holding onto any of these items, this is your permission to donate it and move it out of your house.
Look at it this way, every single item you keep is another thing you have to handle.
You have to keep moving that bag of hand me downs around your house until you finally get around to giving them to whatever friend or relative you saved them for.
You have to look at unwanted gifts from loved ones and feel guilty for not wearing it or using it because it simply doesn’t fit your body/life/style.
You’re allowing these things to take up space in your home AND your mind instead of letting them go to someone else that may use them.
We purged over 70% of our belongings not long ago and I can tell you with 100% honesty, I don’t even remember most of the things we got rid of.
Chances are, you won’t either.
You’ll forget what you donated but you’ll find so much more time and peace on the other side of your decluttering journey.
Wherever you are, whether you’re well on your way to minimalism or completely buried under clutter, just take the next step in the right direction.
I promise, the you of a month or even a year from now will be so happy you did!