Day Thirteen: 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge – Tips for Organizing Overwhelm

It is day thirteen of the 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge. Thank you to everyone who keeps checking in with me about their progress.  It is so fun to see all of your photos.  Some of you have taken on some large spaces!  Keep up the correspondence and we will keep positing the photos.  Send me an email at

One of you recently wrote me that you told your husband “It has to get worse before it gets better.”  You couldn’t be more right!  When there are items in process it can seem like the clutter has spread throughout your home. Don’t be discouraged if you start a project and progress seems slow.

Large spaces like basements and garages can especially feel overwhelming.  We often work in spaces that barely have enough room to place a donate box, let alone areas to sort items.  When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed there are a few strategies you can implement.

  1. Work on a small area and cover the rest with a sheet or large tablecloth.  Not seeing all of the rest of the clutter in the area can be less discouraging.  You will also be able to focus on the task in front of you.
  2. Remember to sort like items.  As I have talked about in previous emails, focusing on one category at a time can make it easier to make decisions.  It may look worse in the area while you spend time sorting items.  However, you will move much faster once you begin tackling categories.
  3. Bring a box or two a day from the room you are working in to an area where you can be more focused and clear to make decisions.  Working away from the room of full of many decisions to a room with only one box breaks the project into smaller parts.  This is also a way to work on the harder items at the end of a room sort.  Taking special care to sort through memorabilia or hard items more slowly in a comfortable setting allows for more thoughtful decisions.
  4. While it can be good to have extra hands on deck in larger spaces, choose who helps you carefully and optimize the time you have with them.  If you have too many people helping they will constantly interrupt you with questions.  This ultimately becomes overwhelming and stressful.  Wait to bring in the muscle or family members to make decisions until you have sorted through the bulk of your items.  It will be more efficient and there will be a lot less meltdowns.

Remember organizing is a step-by-step process.  Take your time, keep your mind as clear for decisions as possible and make it as fun as possible.  Throw on some great music and get to work.

Happy Organizing,


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