How To Start Decluttering Your Space When You Feel Overwhelmed

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One of my favourite things to do after a significant period of change is a deep declutter of my belongings. I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest hoarder I know, but I often forgo throwing things out or donating them when it feels overwhelming or very time consuming. However, moving back to Toronto gave me the perfect opportunity to go through everything I own and make some cut-throat decisions of what should stay and what should go. I’m saddened to report that a lot of what I decluttered I had been holding onto since high school…more than 10 years ago.

Start With The Easy Things

When I feel incredibly overwhelmed with a messy space the first thing I aim to do is get rid of items that I am 100% sure I don’t want or use anymore. These can be small trinkets that serve no real purpose and are just taking up space or items that once did serve a purpose but have now become obsolete. Jewelry and makeup were the two big ones for me; no idea why I had so much of both. Even though they are small and don’t take up too much space, holding on to items that I no longer used felt stifling and like I was clutching onto the past.

Do Your Clothes Separately

I’m sure most of us have more clothes than we need, wear and can fit into. There’s no denying it because I completely understand the struggle. In the age of fast fashion, it’s hard to say ‘no’ when you find a cute outfit for a fraction of what it should cost, only to add it to your wardrobe and watch it disintegrate within a few months. I was strategic when it came to my clothes and made sure that if I was going to keep something, I had to genuinely find a reason for it, not just because it was ‘cute’.

A lot of what I donated were just random lounge clothes that I had accumulated throughout the years, but rarely every wore. Rather than holding onto them for a ‘just in case’ scenario, I figured someone else would be able to get more use out of them than I did. Focusing on my clothes as a separate project all on their own made the entire task of decluttering feel like less of a burden than I originally thought. It broke up the day nicely and allowed me to focus on organizing my dresser and closet before I moved onto the rest of the space.

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Put On Energetic Music

There’s really not much to say about this one—you need something to keep you going when you feel like just taking a nap on your piles of junk. My go-to artists were Glass Animals and Still Woozy.

Be Ruthless

I know, it’s going to be hard to get rid of things that hold sentimental value or that you’ve had for a really long time. But to push through the decluttering and feel like you’ve actually accomplished what you’ve set out to, you have to be ruthless with your decision making. If you don’t like the item or find any use in it, then it has to go. It’s as simple as that. Otherwise, you are only fuelling the fire that got you into this (literal) mess to begin with.

That’s why starting with the easy stuff first is a great way to gain momentum and realize that you are capable of letting go of things that you couldn’t before.

Aim To Have A Home For Everything

The best piece of advice I can give anyone who struggles with knowing what they should and shouldn’t get rid of is to try and have a home for every item. If you can’t make room to keep it somewhere out of sight or organized, then you should probably get rid of it. The important stuff will fit neatly into your space and life—the fluff will only make things messier and less intentional. This doesn’t mean that you can’t decorate your room with pieces that don’t have a utilitarian purpose, but every decor item you do have should blend well with the room and not make your lifestyle less convenient.