How to Declutter Your Home (Even When You’re Overwhelmed)

In this post, you’ll learn how to declutter your home with a simplified method when you’re paralyzed by overwhelm, stuck on inaction, or just want to declutter the easy way!

Does one of those cases sound like you? Welcome, I’m so glad you’re here!

If you read last week’s post, I briefly introduced this 30% Room-By-Room Declutter Method.

The concept isn’t completely new, as I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of navigating through your home, room-by-room, to complete a house clean. This totally works for decluttering too, but I’ve put a little spin on it.

The 30% Room-by-Room Method is my absolute favorite way to declutter an entire house when you:

  • Don’t have a million hours in a row to spare (hello, working mama!)
  • Feel like you’re walking through mud just to get to the finish line (question 2 sound familiar in last week’s post?).
  • Feel like you need tangible and immediate results, even if it’s in just one room.

Spoiler Alert, though: This method isn’t actually my favorite way to declutter an ENTIRE house (the ruthless, getting to your baseline-type declutter). For that, I prefer the higher level strategy of going category by category (toys, books, movies, shirts, jeans, etc.). Join the Productive Home Blueprint waitlist if this method interests you … as I’ve got a great tool coming along with that program!

The most important thing for today is to get started so you can start seeing some tangible results and this 30% Room-by-Room Method will definitely get you there.

I developed this method when I literally couldn’t function on a higher-level scale. My overwhelm ran thick, but I needed a declutter hit more than anything. At that time, I just knew that tidying my space was the self care I needed most.

So I built this method out of the desire to just make some progress that day.

It worked (so fast!) and I experienced such a huge amount of relief (even though I only finished a few rooms)!

All of the following steps are included in my free Clear the Clutter guide, along with a simple checklist & fantastic worksheet. Get your copy of the Clear the Clutter guide here.

Alright, let’s get started!

Declutter Your Home by Starting with the Right Tools

Before any great project, one must gather the right tools. This declutter method is no different, and the tools are simple. Gather the following to get started:

  • Clipboard
  • Plain White Paper or a Graph Paper Pad (my favorite)
  • Your Favorite Colored Pens (color coding is life!)
  • An empty bin for each floor in your home (it will fill up)
  • Garbage bag (or two, depending on your volume)

Clear the Way for Effective Decluttering

The first rule of the 30% Room-by-Room Declutter Method is to never ever move anything deeper within your home that belongs outside or in another space.

That means the very first step in this process is to funnel all of the following items starting from the back of your home, all the way out to the appropriate locations:

  • Dishes – bring them to the kitchen sink & load the dishwasher
  • Laundry – place in the appropriate basket
  • Trash – toss in the closest trash bin or your garbage bag
  • Recycling – bring straight out to the recycling bin
  • Obviously Misplaced Items – place in the empty bin for relocation, or just move straight to the correct location to bypass a step

You’ll find more guidance and a simple checklist that you can print and post for easy reference in the free Clear the Clutter Guide.

Begin the Declutter by Taking Inventory

The worksheet template in the free Clear the Clutter Guide will help you document inventory for each room in your home.

The way this works is very simple.

  • Head to the first room on your list. By the time you get here, your “clear the way” steps should all be complete.
  • Once in the room, circle the perimeter and take note of everything you see. Examples might include: Clear husband’s nightstand, too many unread books on bookshelf, storage under bed hasn’t been cleared in over a year, etc. You could even go as far as noting items to deep clean (swipe the lint off the upholstered bed frame!) and punchlist items to fix (fill & paint over that one accidental nail hole). It’s completely up to you how far you go and the worksheet template gives you space for all of it.
  • Eventually, you’ll have a complete brain dump list for that room and you can move into the next phase.

Take Action on 30% of the Items Listed

One reason I go as far as including deep clean and punchlist items on my list is because usually those are the ones that contribute the most to mental clutter for me.

The tasks that’ll take me 5 minutes to complete yet have been circling my brain for months (or years, in some cases – ha!).

So, in the same room you’ve completed your inventory in, you’re choosing approximately 30% of the listed items to finish right now. As in, before you move into the next room.

The 30% Room-by-Room Declutter Method balances awareness & action in tandem until the whole house is decluttered on a surface level.

This is magic, because by the time you finish just one room, the weight is already beginning to lift. As you keep going, little-by-little you’ll gain momentum until you’ve dug yourself out of the overwhelm and can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The key is to simply keep going and leave the judgement of not being TOTALLY DONE outside on the curb.

As you finish each item, aggressively cross it off so it is officially behind you!

How to Declutter Your Home of the Last 70%

You’ve made it through the 30% Room-by-Room Method in your entire home. Within each room, you’ve taken inventory of and completed 30% of the items at this point.

This is HUGE progress, mama. Give yourself a big pat on the back, or celebrate with a nap. Whatever you need!

Now, you’re left with the remaining 70% that you didn’t choose to complete in the first round – whether it’s because it would take too much time, or just didn’t feel like the top priority.

It’s time to build a plan to complete or decide to ignore that last 70%. This is where color-coding really becomes necessary.

You can split you’re list in a couple of different ways. For whichever method you choose, create a color key and start highlighting:

  • Time Commitment – how long will this task likely take?
  • Priority – how important does this task feel to you right now?
  • Level of Mental Load Reduction – how much weight will completing this task pull off your shoulders?

These are just a few ways you can sort the remaining 70% of tasks on your list. Any method is great so long as it makes sense to you and will help you drive to the finish line.

As for completing the tasks in each group, that’s up to you too. You might want to nail the biggest time commitments first, or only have time for the smaller ones. You can use this project list to pick something if you have a free window of time in the future.

Either way, this is your ready-to-take-action project list for when inspiration and/or time strikes.

Try this time blocking method to assign certain tasks to specific time blocks!

How Often to Repeat the 30% Room-by-Room Declutter Method

The first time you work through the 30% Room-by-Room Declutter Method, it might take you 1-2 weeks to make it through your entire home. Consider 1-2 rooms per day, depending on how much time you have.

Since you’ll have the “remaining 70%” to work through afterwards, you really don’t need to repeat the entire process more than once a year, or at most, every 6 months. You should, however, run through the “clear the way” declutter checklist every single week!

You might even consider just doing this entire method once, then pivoting towards the category method – especially if your 70% tasks have category repeats across rooms.

Either way, it’s time to start! There is clarity in a tidy home and I know that getting to the other side will help you so much in your everyday life.

productivity for working moms