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Where Do I Start Decluttering My House When I Feel Overwhelmed?

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Where Do I Start Decluttering My House When I Feel Overwhelmed?

When you need to start decluttering but feel overwhelmed, the best place to start is with only the most obvious items in each room.

The best thing to do to make fast, significant progress with decluttering is to focus only on the lowest hanging fruit in each space.  The details of this task are what we want to tackle in this article. Doing a thorough, careful, room-by-room declutter is great, but we know that there isn’t always time for that! By the end of this article you will have a good, general outline of an efficient way to make significant progress with decluttering your home without feeling overwhelmed.

Before getting started we suggest that you take a look at our article on How to Define Declutter. Because focusing on what you’re trying to do is part of succeeding in this project, it’s important to be very clear about what, exactly, you’re trying to do!

And finally: tell yourself, over and over, that you can and will succeed. This will sound cheesy to some of you, we know. While this isn’t the place for a deep look at the topic, we will point out that study after study has shown that making a deliberate, conscious effort to regulate your emotions–such as being overwhelmed–has a substantial positive effect on your overall level of positivity, or reducing the effect of negativity. In Cognitive Reappraisal of Emotion: A Meta-Analysis of Human Neuroimaging Studies this is precisely what they found. The Relation between Emotion Regulation and Mental Health: A Meta-Analysis Review had similar results.

You can do this!

A lone peaceful tree in a field with heavy clouds.

How Do I Stop Feeling Overwhelmed When I Declutter My House?

If your goal is to overcome feeling overwhelmed when you declutter, the best things that you can do for yourself are to make obvious progress and to keep the task simple.

Happily, there are relatively easy ways to do that! These next few questions address the most significant of them.

How Do I Make Obvious Progress When I Declutter?

To make obvious progress when you declutter a space in your house, focus on the lowest-hanging fruit; ignore the small things. When you walk into a room, stand at the doorway, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can I see right away that does not belong in this room?
  • Which things that do belong in this room are not in their appropriate places?

And that’s all. Focus only on the things that are obvious. Once you’ve moved the things that don’t belong in the room out of the room to where they should be, and re-placed the misplaced items where they should be, the room will very obviously be more decluttered. And you are finished with that room for nowYou will have made genuine progress, and you will know it. 

Those feelings of having made progress and having finished a whole room are important. They will help you to remind yourself that you can do this. The goal is reachable.

A girls' bedroom.

In Which Room Should I Start To Declutter?

When you plan to do a general decluttering of your whole house, the best room in which to start decluttering is one in a top or bottom corner of your house; if you have only one floor, any corner will do. That makes it easier to progress through the rest of your home methodically.

One of the best ways of tackling any feeling of being overwhelmed is to focus on taking one step at a time. In this case: focus on one room at a time. The advantage of starting in a corner is that once you finish that room in the way suggested in the previous section, the room that will be next is simply the next one that you see.

If the goal is to cover your whole house in this quick sweep then there is no advantage to starting in the kitchen, or the living room, or your bedroom. Were you to do that you would end up having to jump around the house, from one side to the other, thinking “Did I do this room? Which room would be best to do next?” Since you’re going to hit every room anyway, keep it simple! Just start at one end and move across the house in order. There’s less to keep track of that way.

In our Best 12 Places to Start Decluttering Your Home we do suggest specific rooms rather than what we’re saying here, which is to simply go in order down the hallways. That’s because the goals are different. Here we’re trying to quickly make a ton of progress over the whole house; in the other article what we have in mind is a slow, long-term declutter.

What Do I Do To Declutter The Things In A Room That Aren't Obvious?

Don’t look to declutter things that aren’t obvious. When you are trying to make significant progress with decluttering your home without being overwhelmed, you have permission to ignore the details.

This is really important. As we’ve discussed in articles such as The Best 12 Low-Stress Tips for How to Declutter Your Home, decluttering is an ongoing project. That doesn’t mean that it has to be or feel overwhelming! It just means that as long as progress is always being made, you’ll always have it under control. This sort of big, overall decluttering sweep of your house is a wonderful way to do that. 

Yes, after you finish the room-by-room obvious-item decluttering that we’re advocating here you’ll still have lots of smaller spaces in your home that are still cluttered. That’s okay! Those can be tackled bit by bit–another day. If you can accomplish this one sweep you will have a lot less clutter to show for it, and that’s something that you can be happy with.

All progress is good progress. Let yourself take credit for even the smaller wins.

Person on a cliff top. Success!


You can do this. It really isn’t even a question. Feelings of overwhelm come when you’re thinking big; don’t do that. Think small. Think easy. If this sort of quick declutter of your home is all you have time for: that’s okay. Life happens! Even this quick, house-wide declutter can span over multiple days, you needn’t do it all at once. It is important to keep clutter to a minimum, but the suggestions we give here will take you a very long way towards that goal.

If after completing this sort of house-wide sweep you’re feeling good, we suggest trying our 30 Day Declutter Challenge! It doesn’t have to be 30 days in a row–as we discuss in that article, that’s impossible for most people! It can be a great way to set focused, achievable goals for yourself once you want to take even bigger steps towards decluttering your home.

Good luck!!