Four Reasons You Get Overwhelmed When Decluttering And Organizing Your Home

People become overwhelmed with their homes for many reasons, and I can tell you that they are all valid reasons.

Many of our clients struggle with ADD or chronic illnesses, which can add layers of challenges to an already difficult situation. 

I’m not going to dig too much into those circumstances right now. Today I will address the generalized overwhelm and paralysis that folks experience with their homes.

I hear the statement, “I don’t know where to start.” so often. There are many reasons for this, but I see four specific reasons consistently. If you are trying to declutter and organize your home and feel like you are hitting a wall, then please consider these four possible reasons for your overwhelm. 

  1. The most common reason! You are trying to mix cleaning, decluttering, organizing, and tidying. Each of these activities is its own unique task. Combining them is a recipe for brain mush! 

Does this sound familiar? You walk into a messy kitchen. You are determined to tackle this mess. You are ready.

You pick up some garbage; oh, you need a garbage bag. You get the garbage bag. You return, and halfway through picking up some trash, you realize your dining table is sticky, so you scrub down the table. 

After picking up half the garbage and cleaning the table, you decide that some furniture polish would make it shine. You look under the kitchen sink for your furniture polish, and low and behold: it seems like the cleaning product aisle of Target blew up under your sink. It is chaos. 

You pull everything out and start chucking empty containers and some old scrub pads from 1997. Halfway through your decluttering project you realize you never access cleaning products here; you move them to the laundry room because it seems more intuitive for you and your family. You put like with like. 

Three hours later you have a bag of garbage and a shiny dining room table, and everywhere else is just a bigger mess. You feel defeated and don’t understand how it gets worse every time you try tackling the mess and clutter. 

As stated in my example above, when we mix cleaning, tidying, decluttering, and organizing in a chaotic space, you will only make a dent in a few places but likely create more chaos overall. 

Know the difference between each task!

  • Cleaning is when you, for example, wash, sanitize, or scrub surfaces or belongings. This can include: vacuuming floors, dusting surfaces, cleaning your shower, etc. 
  • Tidying is when you go through a space and re-home stray items or give areas a reset. This may be picking up shoes, putting away toys, hanging jackets that got tossed onto the ground, making your bed, taking out garbage and recycling, and loading the dishwasher.
  • Decluttering focuses on releasing, editing, and sending away possessions you no longer need, love, or use. 
  • Organizing is a focus typically done after decluttering. This is putting like-with-like in zones where you can quickly access and put away items. It can also entail containers and labeling. 

Mixing, cleaning, tidying, decluttering, and organizing is like trying to saute, bake, broil, and steam the same dinner dish simultaneously. You are going to get chaotic mush. 

Tidying and cleaning are typically daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance routines built into your life. 

Decluttering and organizing are project-based work that usually requires some forethought and planning. 

Avoid overlapping these tasks, and the overwhelm will be significantly reduced. 

  1. Stress hormones are hijacking your brain.

UCLA did a study on middle-class families regarding how they lived in their homes, and it was found that managing the clutter was such an overwhelming problem in many of the homes that it elevated stress hormones for mothers. So you could be having a stress response to your space, making it very difficult to plan and logically solve the problem. 

Awareness of this can help you go easy on yourself instead of feeling like you are the only person who can’t start by choosing which empty Amazon box to break down.  

  1. The stuff has continued coming in, sabotaging your efforts. 

Before you start decluttering by yourself or hire a decluttering service, you must create parameters around incoming items. 

If there is a flood of Amazon purchases, unnecessary groceries, gifts, or hand-me-downs constantly coming through the door then you are simply tossing water out of a sinking boat with a teacup.  

Deciding how to slow the roll of unnecessary items coming in is a personal decision but one that is worth taking the time to consider. 

  1. Perfectionist tendencies. 

In my experience it is not the folks who are self-proclaimed “messy people” or have a carefree attitude about the lack of order in their home that struggles with decluttering. It’s the perfectionists that battle with progress. 

Perfectionism is a quality that can create paralysis by analysis for our clients. 

When the perfectionist’s brain sees a space that is cluttered and problematic, they might tend not to start because they convince themselves that they can’t get it done perfectly in one fell swoop, so why even start? 

Then the issue grows and grows. Task initiation can be a struggle in these situations. 

Something we constantly tell our clients is progress over perfection. 

In summary:

  • Compartmentalize your care tasks. Know the difference between tidying, cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. Be specific about what you are trying to achieve at that moment, and do your best to stay in that task zone.
  • Go easy on yourself if you feel like your brain is misfiring when you work on your home. Because it just might be! 
  • Before focusing on decluttering, make a plan for reducing incoming items. 
  • Progress over perfection. Always. 

Rock Star Residential Services is here for you if you would like virtual or onsite support cutting through the overwhelm. Call us for a zero-pressure and complimentary consultation to discuss your decluttering and organizing goals at 541-610-7810.