Overwhelmed By Clutter? Here’s Where To Start Decluttering

When you find yourself overwhelmed with clutter, it can be daunting to even think about where to start decluttering. Use these tips to know exactly where to start so the job gets done!

Clutter is overwhelming. It’s suffocating and it causes stress.

When you look around your home and it seems like all you can see is stuff, and all of this stuff is everywhere, it’s time to start decluttering!

But how? And where do you start?

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Where To Start Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed

When you just have a few things out of place or you haven’t sorted through that pile of mail in a month, the idea of decluttering might not be bad. However, when you have a LOT of stuff, then the reality of the decluttering process can be paralyzing.

Here’s a little tough love: the process will take time and work.

It won’t be easy. However, decluttering doesn’t need to be overwhelming, scary, or paralyzing. 

Use these tips to help you figure out how and where to start when decluttering so that you can get started and have your house feel more like your home as easily as possible.  

Find the Right Mental Attitude

When you’re wondering where to begin when it comes to decluttering, the first step may not seem obvious. You’re probably envisioning trash bags and closets or drawers. 


The first place to begin when starting a decluttering project is with your mindset. If you find yourself stuck in a mental attitude of still wanting to hold onto your stuff, then you aren’t ready to tackle that clutter.

Change your mindset into one ready for decluttering by finding the motivation to clean out anything that you don’t really need. That motivation may come from watching hoarding tv shows, reading Marie Kondo’s book, or simply looking around and being so tired of living in clutter that you’ll do whatever it takes to change it.

Adjust your mindset so you’re ready to tackle your clutter problem.

Mindset adjusted? Ok, now where to start decluttering?

Start With What You Can See

The most obvious answer to that question is to start decluttering the stuff that you can see (meaning, the stuff that’s taking up visible space all over the house rather than stuffed in a closet or cabinet).

But, where do you start when all. you. can. see. is clutter?

At this point, it’s simply a matter of picking a place. What area makes you grumble internally every time you look at it – and you can’t go through a single day without seeing it?

Maybe it’s your nightstand, your coffee table, the medicine cabinet, or your kitchen counters. It doesn’t matter. Pick one and start decluttering!

Declutter Horizontal Surfaces

Still too paralyzed to pick a starting point? Try this!

Horizontal surfaces are clutter magnets. They attract stuff like moths to a flame simply because it’s easy to set it down and forget it then repeat that behavior again and again.

Start by decluttering one horizontal surface (my favorite is to start with the kitchen counters). Then once it’s done, you’ll feel motivated to move on to another one.

If tackling horizontal surfaces is where you want to start decluttering, make sure to include:

  • Counters
  • Shelves
  • Desktops
  • Tabletops
  • Dressers

Small Win, Big Impact Areas

I’m talking about those spaces that you interact with regularly and wouldn’t take a long time to declutter but would make a noticeable difference in your day. 

We all have them. They’re the spaces that bug you and think “I need to get that cleaned up” every time you see them.

Here are some ideas:

  • Under the kitchen sink
  • The linen closet
  • Your bathroom counters
  • The laundry room shelves
  • Your stack of magazines or books to read
  • Your closet
  • The kitchen table

Pick one and just get to work. Don’t think about it because you might start overthinking. Just declutter and before you know it…voila! It’s done.

Begin at the Door

Still looking for the right place to start with your decluttering efforts? Why not begin at the door of the room and move counterclockwise around the room from there? 

When you’re trying to declutter a room (which I only recommend doing if it’s not super cluttered), keep your efforts focused by moving around the room intentionally and decluttering as you go.

Set A Timer For 15 Minutes

This tip works great for anyone who has the notion that decluttering will eat up hours of their day. That’s simply not true. You can get a lot done in an easy 15 minutes when you’re focused on the task.

And, I believe that setting a timer helps to focus your efforts so you make the best use of that time. It also helps eliminate the overwhelm with starting because you can do nearly anything for a short 15 minutes, right? Set a time and just start.

It doesn’t really matter where because any progress is progress; however if you need a more definitive place, I recommend setting your timer and starting with the kitchen counters.

Pick Up 10 Items

Decluttering is a task that builds upon itself. All you have to do is get the ball rolling and then the process takes on a life of its own. 

When you just can’t decide where to start decluttering, start by simply picking up 10 items and putting them away. Nothing says that when you decide to start decluttering you’re committing yourself to do the entire house at one time.

If that’s all you have time for, you made progress! If you have more time and are feeling motivated, try putting away 10 more items. I love the simplicity of a nice round number like 10. It makes a powerful impact but isn’t daunting.

To help you keep track of how many decluttering items you accomplish a day, try using this free calendar for 31 Days to a Decluttered Home!

Final Thoughts

When you find yourself overwhelmed by all the stuff and wondering where to start decluttering, just know that it doesn’t really matter where you start. The important part is that you take action and just start! 

Use these tips to form a plan and simply follow the plan. Don’t overthink it or talk yourself into changing the plan. Just start taking action and you’ll find that the task isn’t as daunting as you thought.

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