Overcoming Decluttering Paralysis

Every year, I say I’m going to declutter my home. And guess what? (shocker) Every year, it doesn’t happen.

According to Psychology Today, clutter causes stress in part because of its excessive visual stimuli. It also signals to our brains that our work is never done and creates guilt, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed. I experience both physical and mental anxiety from clutter, yet continue to do nothing about it. It’s this paralyzed feeling of not knowing where to start the decluttering.

Well, I have news, my friends. This year is my year.

I want to share how I have gotten started with decluttering in hopes that it may help you, too.  My hope is that by purging my home, I will have more time for the things that are important to me and less time spent “organizing” chaos.

1. Start with a space that causes you the most daily stress:

What area of your home do you dread looking at? Start there.

For me, it was my closet. Every time I opened it up, I would have to sort through things I was keeping for who knows what reason and pieces that just didn’t fit anymore. By starting with an area that has been bothering me for years, it has been a great catalyst in motivation and moving forward. Experiencing the calm feeling of an organized space made me crave more and move onto the next disaster zone.

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2. Listen to minimalism podcasts

Gosh, there are so many (Clutter Bug, A Slob Comes Clean, Maximized Minimalist, Minimalist Moms Podcast, and Sustainable Minimalists are some faves). I personally like to listen to these as I’m going through my stuff. It makes it way more enjoyable and is motivating.

If you aren’t into podcasts, put on a favorite show, call a friend, or listen to an audiobook. Pairing an unpleasant activity with one that is enjoyable has a psychological title that I don’t know the name of… but it works!

3. Sorting

I won’t tell you the year some of these items were originally purchased…

I have 3 piles or bins (I prefer bins because I can move them neatly out of the way if I have to take a break). I have one to keep, another to donate, and another to sell (because I am a major Facebook marketplace girl). Donate items as quickly as possible so you don’t end up pulling things back out like my 6-year-old does at our annual garage sale…

4. Stay Focused

This means focus on one thing at a time and don’t start trying to organize multiple spaces simultaneously. Complete one area even if it takes forever, then move onto the next. Also focus on what you HAVE accomplished and not what you haven’t. For example, my closet looks great, but our basement looks like a post-apocalyptic movie scene. I try to remind myself that I will get to that area eventually. This is a marathon not a sprint!

5. Connect with others

This may seem silly to some, but I can’t tell you how motivating it’s been to me! I started an Instagram account solely for the purpose of documenting my progress. I am a strong enneagram one and if I say I’m going to do something, you better believe it will be done and well. I have had so much fun connecting with others and getting ideas. On this account, I follow all the organizational and minimalism accounts so they are all in one place! I find it refreshing to talk to other moms with the same goal whose homes are unfiltered and are perfectly imperfect as mine. Real people trying to make some real and lasting changes.

Still don’t know where to start? Take a minute to think about why you want to do this.  What are you wanting to change and why? Focus on that feeling you want to achieve. Then start with a single drawer, your car (if yours is like mine, maybe not your car), your purse, makeup, or one shelf in your fridge. Start small and document your progress. Share it with your family or friends and then share it with me over at @coffeysimplified on Instagram.

I’m rooting for you — we can do this!

Megan Coffey
Hi! I'm Megan, former teacher turned stay-at-home-but-never-home mom to Peyton, 7, and Gage, 4. I host the Kansas City MomCast podcast! I'm married to the most patient person on this earth, Chris, and we live in Overland Park with our kids, an insane lab, and two guinea pigs. You can find me over committing to everything, reading informational and self-help texts, listening to podcasts, organizing, spending time with friends over margaritas, thrifting, and staying up way too late to have peace and serenity. I love people and hearing their stories and look forward to connecting with KCMC readers!