3 Steps to Eliminate Decluttering Overwhelm and Create a Space You Love

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I adore spring and the feeling of a fresh start. It’s also the time of year when I want to declutter and redecorate. Now, I’ve got a relatively small space to redecorate. Keeping it clutter-free is a whole other matter. When you’re faced with a very small living space for sleep, work, and a cozy reading nook, you have to maximize your space and keep things to a minimum.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. As much as I’d like to take a paintbrush to walls and hang new wall art right this second, there are a few mental notes to take first. Such as taking stock of what you have already, what works and what doesn’t, how you feel in your space and how you would like to feel there. And most important of all (at least in my books), is having a vision for your life, the things you own, and the space you live in. 

After all, your home/living space is your sanctuary. It’s where you create, live, share joy, and spend time with loved ones. 

When it comes to vision, us crazy humans often have a disconnect between what we really want out of life and physically making it happen. Bringing a vision to life, even something as simple as creating an inspiring workspace can involve a lot of trials and tribulations along the way. And then there’s the inordinate amount of time spent thinking on what do you keep, what do you get rid of, actually getting rid of it, and then facing the struggle of mindlessly buying it back again. Ack!

When taking on the task of creating a new space for myself, I wanted to avoid a few struggles I’ve faced in the past on my minimalism journey.

3 Decluttering Struggles We All Face & Steps to Eliminate Decluttering Overwhelm

We all face a decluttering struggle on our minimalism journey at some point. But in my experience, there’s a few that stand out and create the biggest roadblocks. Facing this head-on will help eliminate decluttering overwhelm in your life.

Having no vision. 

Who knew a visionary type like me could have no vision? Meh. It happens I suppose. We all lose our way sometimes. The sad side effect of no vision is overwhelm, stress, and feeling lost. 

When faced with this decluttering struggle, I find that taking some time to clarify and write down your vision for your space BEFORE decluttering works to bring focus and clarity. 

Consider asking yourself: 

  • What do you really want? 
  • How do you want to feel in your living space?

When you’re ready, create a Pinterest vision board for how you’d like your space (or life) to look like. I created a secret Pinterest board titled Bedroom and Creative Space Makeover.

Making impulse purchases. 

Oh! I used to be the queen of making emotional impulsed based purchases. Haven’t we all done this at one point or other? If you bring in more before decluttering and clearing out the old, you’ll overwhelm yourself and open the door to more impulse buying. 

I no longer bring an item into my space until I’ve removed something else or have a darn good reason for bringing it in. The idea is to edit, edit, edit to create the white space you need to see your vision clearly. 

It’ll let you focus on whether the new item will be functional and useful for your space. For example, I know I wanted to create a cozy reading nook in my room. But to make it work, my rarely used TV had to go. So, I immediately made plans for someone to pick up the TV, sound system, and entertainment unit to clear space for the new. Donating these items to friends and family who need it (and will use it) made me feel better about letting it go. 

Also, a TV is no longer in line with my life vision or values. I don’t watch the negative news anymore and while I love movies, they simply suck away too much creative time if I let them.

By removing the old first, you give your mind space to see your vision, digest it, and think about whether you really need a new item or not. 

Getting overwhelmed and starting down the path toward negative thoughts.

What would you prefer? Being a prisoner in your own home taken hostage by your clutter OR empowering yourself to declutter and being a grateful human being who has a roof over her head? 

My hand’s all the way up for being a grateful human being.

Decluttering shouldn’t make you miserable. It’s designed to offer you clarity, calm, and peace of mind so you can focus on living instead of constantly organizing clutter.

While you’re decluttering it’s easy to look at your clutter and like me, become overwhelmed and want to set fire to all of it. This is why I prefer to declutter slowly. My first decluttering experience had me emptying every box onto the basement floor and decluttering without a vision. I did it entirely based on emotion. 

So, what happened? I got overwhelmed, lost focus, and threw my arms up in frustration. I let the negative thoughts creep in. And when one negative thought comes in, the rest aren’t far behind. It’s like a runaway train of: “I’ll never finish decluttering”, “I’ll never get out of debt”, “Why did I accumulate so much crap?”, “Who owns this much stuff?”, “Why did I ever buy that?!”

Arrrgggh!!! Right? 

Create a Space You Love

On the other side of decluttering is creating a space you love. A space that lets you sparkle and shine, one that’s peaceful and lets you focus on being intentional with how you live your life.

Creating a vision of what you want your life and space to look like will get you there faster. 

I’m an introvert and a highly sensitive person so I know that the state of my surroundings greatly affects my moods and my productivity. I’m feeling based. When I see clutter, I feel stressed and focus on cleaning it all up instead of creating. 

That’s a clear signal to me that the vision of my space needs to include white space and clutter-free surfaces. Less is more does make a brain happy!

This latest project has me decluttering and improving my sleeping and working area. I live in a very small space that is my bedroom, creative working space, and cozy reading nook all in one.  Think of it as a very tiny bachelor apartment. 

When I started, I thought it would be easy to toss what doesn’t fit and simply rearrange the furniture, but the visionary in me took it one step further. I wanted to create lasting change and an inspirational space. 

Here’s a look at how I declutter and the first steps in creating a space I love:

Step one: Create a vision for your space.

When creating a vision of what you do want, it’s best to figure out what you don’t want first. To get you started, ask yourself:

  • How does your space make you feel right now? My space makes me feel chaotic, on edge and uninspired. I blame the blue bedsheets combined with the electric pale purple on the walls. 
  • What pieces of furniture or objects do not fit with your life values? I’m looking at you 55 inch TV that I rarely watch. 
  • What type of life do you lead now? For me, I’m an in-betweener. I’ve got one foot in a part-time job and haven’t fully transitioned from hobby-preneur/blogger to full-time. 
  • What’s not in alignment with your lifestyle? 
  • What could you do with less of? Fewer trinkets and objects. 

Write down what you don’t want or doesn’t fit. Make note of what stays and could be reused for your new vision.

To create your new vision, focus on what you do want:

  • How would you like to feel in your new space? Inspired, relaxed, calming, energetic? 
  • What type of life do you want to lead? Are you trying to be a full-time blogger? A creative entrepreneur? A photographer? A designer?
  • What would align with the lifestyle you envision? 
  • What could you do with more of?

Head to Pinterest and create a vision board. Start pinning items that match the feelings of your ideal space. Pin colour palettes that bring out the way you want to feel. Pin styles you like – me, I’m a modern Parisian chic minimalist. So that means while I love clean and modern, I also enjoy small doses of feminine minimalism – those blush pinks and gold accents. 

Step two: Purge carefully and slowly. 

Yes, I know. You’d love to have this done in a weekend. Well, remember the turtle? Slow and steady wins the race. The idea here is to be intentional about your purging. 

Purge too quickly and you’ll end up going back out and buying it all over again. 

Why? Unhappiness. You’ll feel as though you parted with too much all at once. It’s tough letting go of a way of life you became so used to.

If you envision a clean, beautiful home with less stuff and less spending to distract you from your true priorities, I highly recommend checking out Uncluttered, by a few of my minimalism loving friends over at Becoming Minimalist. The course is designed to be your roadmap to getting uncluttered and offers a community of like-minded people cheering you on your journey.

Step three: Curate with care.

Ah, the fun part! Bringing your vision to life. Curating your new vision will take time. Do it slowly and with intention. Take your time finding furniture or art to bring into your new space. Be mindful of your money and keep within a budget. It’s also important to be mindful of your feelings during this time. If anything leaves you feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to slow down the process.

Never buy anything in haste. You want to feel good about this process, not guilty.

Decluttering can be overwhelming. It can be so stressful that you want to toss everything out the front door or set fire to it. I’ve mentioned the many times I would’ve loved to set fire to all the excess and unnecessary possessions I owned during my journey. But by beginning with a vision for your life and space, you’ll be able to declutter and create a new space you love with clarity. It’ll be easier to eliminate overwhelm along the way.

What decluttering struggles have you faced? How did it make you feel? What has helped you to create a space you love? I’ve love to hear what has worked for you!

Comments +

  1. Kerstin Bodily says:

    Such a great post! I’m going to have to read this a few times to take it all in. For me, a big factor in decluttering is in remembering my own situation when I was pregnant with my daughter, 17 years ago. Buying so much baby gear left us really strapped for cash, and I had to buy at least some of her clothes from the second-hand store. I had to swallow my pride, but I was honestly so grateful for the newer, nicer things I found that I could afford. So now when I take things to Goodwill that I haven’t used very much, I’m hopeful that it will really make someone happy.

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks Kerstin! What a great story! Thank you for sharing. That’s so true. Looking back at your past experiences helps ease the decluttering process and reminds you that by donating, you’re helping someone else out. It makes letting go of things a lot easier knowing someone else is making use of it and your money didn’t go to waste.
      Think of it as charitable giving in a slightly different way 🙂

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