When clutter has taken over your life it can feel completely hopeless. Even if you want to declutter, there’s no room left for sorting or staging. I’ve found two things that anyone can try so you can start decluttering when there’s no room left. The key here isn’t which one is best, or if some other tips are better/worse. The key is to just try it. Go in there and give it a go! If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, try it one or two more times, and then try something else. There IS hope and you CAN do it!!!
Find the Easiest
The first thing to do when the room is full is to look for something easy. Maybe there are some cardboard boxes you can flatten to make some room. Or even take straight out to the recycling bin. Is there something else you can reach that you KNOW can go? Grab it, and either put it out in the garbage or recycling, or place it where you can take it for donating. You can even hop in your car and take it right to the donation drop off! Yes, it’s OK to take one thing there.
Make sure you give yourself a big “Way To Go!!” for getting it out of your space. This is REALLY important. Always always always celebrate your success when one thing goes. If there’s lots of clutter it can be easy to dismiss any progress you make. But you need to encourage yourself and celebrate the action you are taking. It’s a way of helping your brain learn that you CAN do this, and everything you do (even a small thing) matters.
Send Away Illegal Tenants
Are you someone who keeps things for someone else? Most clutterers are very helpful by nature, and always want to hold on to things for other people. Maybe your adult child has left boxes of things with you, or your sister-in-law told you she wants that desk in the corner but hasn’t picked it up yet. I call these things illegal tenants. They are literally taking up your space for free!! In order to reclaim your space, send those illegal tenants on their way to where they belong.
The best way to do this is through a heartfelt chat with the owner of the things. Let them know that stuff in your home has taken over your life and it’s creating challenges for you. Ask them to please make arrangements to take the things that are theirs. After all, you want them to enjoy their things rather than have them buried in your clutter. Be gentle, but firm. Insist that you can no longer store things for them, and give them a specific amount of time to collect their items. They’ll either come take their things, or they will stall. If they don’t seem eager to help you out, you may need to take a firmer stance. But it’s most likely they’ll respect your space enough to remove their things.
These two strategies (start with something easy, and send away illegal tenants) may give you enough space to start sorting through things and making progress you can see and enjoy. I know it seems small compared to your pile, but when you find something that works you can use the strategy over and over while you shrink your clutter. Here’s to you and some new found space!