Overwhelmed By Clutter? What To Do

woman looking overwhelmed and perplexed

Most people have at one time or another, been overwhelmed by some amount or type of clutter in their homes. And if you, like many, aren’t in a position to hire a professional to take care of it, there is still hope for you and your house if you’re overwhelmed by clutter.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word overwhelm as this: “Bury or drown beneath a huge mass; defeat completely; give too much of a thing to someone, inundate” 

So then, to be overwhelmed by something is to be inundated, completely defeated, buried or drowned beneath a huge mass. 

The above definition can definitely be applied to the feeling we get when we just have too much in our homes to deal with. When we feel this way, we often shut down out of the exhaustion and defeat we feel when we even try to move forward. 

Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff

Whether you are looking at things that have piled up over a period of extra-busyness or an illness, or you are experiencing the challenge of a hoarding situation, it’s not at all unusual or abnormal to feel completely overwhelmed. 

I want you to know this: Whatever your situation, you are not the only one experiencing it. Almost all of us have felt overwhelmed by our clutter at some time or another. 

And when we don’t know what to do, we may often do nothing. We wait for answers. We wait and hope for help. And while we wait, our situation does not improve. 

Some people think of moving when they find themselves with too much stuff and not enough space. Others stay put but isolate themselves because of anxiety over a  messy house. 

So, what can we do when we find ourselves overwhelmed by clutter?

How To Stop Being Overwhelmed With Clutter

First, it’s important to face the problem and think about what causes a person to clutter. There are many reasons for clutter, ranging from just being too busy to suffering from a disorder, such as hoarding

Reasons We Have Clutter

. Here are some of these reasons or causes for why a person may be facing a clutter issue:

  • Procrastination – We put off the task of putting things where they belong or making the decision about whether and where to keep them.
  • Lack of systems or good habits – Not having systems for collecting clutter, or procrastinating can quickly become a habit (remember, it is said that it takes about 21 days to form a habit).
  • Reminders – We think we need to see an item to be reminded to take care of it, so we leave things laying around to remind us, but the reminders quickly turn into piles of clutter.
  • Too little space and/or too much stuff. – We don’t have enough space to keep the things we have. Or we have too much stuff, and truthfully may not even know how much we do have.
  • Shopping – We love buying things, whether they are new or used, on sale or at full price, whether we need them or not.
  • Busyness – We are busy, our schedule is packed, and we don’t have time to find homes for our things, let alone put them in their homes.
  • Things outlive their usefulness – We don’t recognize when a thing has outlived its usefulness or its purpose. My mother-in-law was famous for saying, “That was a goo-ood…_____(fill in the blank)
  • Lack of resources – Even if we know it’s time to rid of something, we don’t always know how or where. Should we sell it, give it away, or trash it? And if one of those is the way of choice, then how do we do it, who can we ask or give it to, or where would we take it or send it?
  • It was expensive – We are no longer interested in having something, but we paid a lot of money for it and don’t want it to go to waste. 
  • Life happens – We have had a major life change, and haven’t been able to cope with clearing out excess stuff.
  • Other people – Someone has passed away or moved out and we are left with their belongings, or we have someone in our lives who loves to give us things.
  • Health issues – We’ve had surgery or an illness, whether physical or mental,  that makes it too hard to do the work of conquering the clutter. 

Action Plan For Extreme Decluttering

Taking action when you are emotionally overwhelmed with clutter is not an easy thing to do. But – it is necessary if you are going to live a life free from a cluttered, messy house.

Thinking through the above list of reasons we clutter may help you to identify the biggest reasons for the problem. Once you’ve pinpointed the most likely problems, you can start planning. 

So…You do need to make a plan, but not a difficult plan, not a formal plan, and not an involved plan. Just a little plan so you will know what you want to do, even when you aren’t feeling it. Most projects without a plan will fail miserably – instead, I want you to succeed.

FIRST

You will need to decide where to start. This may be what has stopped you in the past. But remember, this time is different.

The following is a list of choices for where you will start your decluttering. Read carefully through the list and consider which of these “messes” will be the best area for you to get started with:

  • The smallest mess
  • The mess that will make the most difference to you
  • The mess that’s been there the longest
  • The least sentimental mess
  • The mess that is the hardest to part with
  • The largest mess (I don’t recommend this unless you are highly motivated and know you can follow through on it). If you get this one done you can do anything!

SECOND

Once you decide on the type of “mess” you’ll do the best with, choose any one thing from this list (which is in no particular order) that you feel you are equipped to conquer. And then…just do it.

  • Garbage – bag it up now and take it to the can or dumpster.
  • Items that are used in another room – Box them up or pile them according to the room they go to. When you get them collected, take one bo or pile at a time and put in the room they belong in. Don’t worry if you can’t put the items away right now.
  • Items that live in this very room – if you have room, put these away now, and if there’s no room for them leave them in a box.
  • The thing you have the most duplicates of – spread them all out or put them in a pile and just look at them. If you need to keep some, it’s ok. But you don’t need to keep them all.
  • Everything that you can get rid of by donating. Don’t labor over this – if you can part with it, put it in a box, take to your car, and drive to the nearest donation drop-off location.
  • The things you may have the most trouble parting with. This one should not be first, as this is commonly why you have a mess to start with – not being able to part with something. It came in just one thing at a time, but if you want quick results you should take it out by the box or large container.

THIRD

Do the SECOND step again on repeat. Make a different choice from the SECOND step list and repeat each choice until you have conquered the worst of it.

Once you’ve gone through each type of item from step two, you can start again in another of your messy areas from the FIRST step.

These steps are simple and will work if you keep on doing them. If you stall out, don’t get discouraged – just start again, either where you left off, or all over again if you need to. Accomplishing anything is better than accomplishing nothing.

Help From The Bible

Because I believe there is hope for absolutely anything when we trust God with it, I wrote Bible Verses About Simplicity, and I have compiled a list of short Bible studies from the YouVersion app that address decluttering. 

FREE YouVersion Bible Plans on Decluttering/Organization/Simple Living:

To find these short Bible study plans, you can either go to bible.com or get the YouVersion Bible app, then search up the title under “Plans”:

*Belongings

(7-day), By finds.life.church

*Courageous Simplicity

(5-day), From (in)Courage

*Hollywood Prayer Network On Simplicity

(7-day), Karen Covell, Kimberly Roberts, and the Hollywood Prayer Network

*Spring Cleaning For Your Heart

(6-day) by Rebecca Hastings

*The Minimalist Home

(5-day) Reading plan by Joshua Becker

Decluttering The Soul

by Erin Greneau

Declutter: Overhaul Your Heart

(5-day) by Meredith Shafer

Keeping It Simple

(5-day) by Juliet Funt

(I have completed and can recommend the plans with an asterisk* in front of their title. I have not read the others, so am not able to personally recommend them)

Friend, I’m praying that you will be able to make progress in whatever your clutter issues are. Clutter tends to creep up on us, and as it fills our environment, it can also cloud our minds.

Romans 12:2
pinterest pin overwhelmed by clutter

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