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The Secret To Less Overwhelm When Decluttering

Jul 30, 2023

Read time: minutes

I talk to a lot of people who are just getting into minimalism, and there’s one thing that nearly all of them have in common: a gut-wrenching hesitation when it’s time to start “letting go” of things.

Whether it’s a simple book collection, a chaotic headspace (or whatever), something about decluttering terrifies most people.

So trust me on this one - you’re not alone.

Many minimalist newbies struggle with this issue, and it holds them back from experiencing the benefits of less and reaching their full potential.

You have to tackle this paralyzing emotion head-on.

So let’s start with why it’s so important to overcome.

The Struggle

The problem with letting overwhelm hold you back is it prevents you from learning anything, like who you are and what’s important to you (and, more importantly, who you’re not).

If you never declutter, you’ll never get any feedback.

And feedback (tangible or intangible) will be the foundation of your growth and awareness.

Every unneeded item you don’t declutter is a missed opportunity to grow, gain clarity, and ultimately change your life.

And even though donating a single t-shirt or writing a simple journal entry are seemingly small tasks, these missed opportunities add up.

The more you miss, the less clarity you gain.

And as you know, self-awareness is the heartbeat of any minimalist’s success.

The Frustration

The truth is, overwhelm is paralyzing.

You might feel buried under a mountain of clutter with no idea where to begin.

This can become a permanent perspective of self-doubt and leave you stuck in the “frozen zone” - where the fear of making things worse stands in the way of you achieving your goals.

Feeling overwhelmed is a roadblock, period.

But there are some solid ways to break free from the frozen zone and start decluttering your life with confidence.

Here are three simple things I did to overcome my overwhelming feelings and start conquering my clutter for good:

#1: I Got Ultra Clear on What I Value

Instead of being okay with feeling overwhelmed and frustrated when decluttering, I started building a habit of prioritizing what was important to me first and allowing that to be the minimum requirement for anything I kept in my life.

I focused on defining my identity and my core values.

This was challenging, to say the least.

But when I began identifying my core values, I discovered that these values were the perfect decision-making tools.

The values themselves weren’t groundbreaking discoveries, but filtering all of my decisions through them was.

Doing so made it easier to simplify my life because I was making decisions I felt confident in.

Understanding your core values can be the difference between being paralyzed by overwhelming feelings and prospering from a clutter-free life.

And if you’ve never taken the time to intentionally think about what’s most important to you (and write them down), here’s your sign to do so.

  • Where do I start?: My core values worksheet.
  • How many values should I have?: 3-5 core values that represent the core pillars of your life. Other values and things you enjoy will fall underneath.
  • How do I use my values in everyday life?: Filter all your decisions through your values. Ask whether this decision will pull me closer to the things I value or pull me away from them. Your values are your guide.

#2: I Created My Own Template

I subscribed to the fact that minimalism is a unique and individual journey. Similar to your fingerprint.

And it’s okay if my version of minimalism looks different from other minimalists I’ve seen.

As long as my foundation is poured with the same mix of principles: “Live with more of what matters by choosing to want less of what doesn’t.”

My interview on The Clutterbug Podcast

Remember, whenever you compare your minimalist journey to someone else’s, your experiences become slightly more toxic (and so does your perception of what minimalism should look like).

So rather than chasing clarity of what’s important to you, you end up overwhelmed by the aesthetics you believe your life should aspire to.

To avoid this toxic trap, I created my own template rather than trying to fit within the “common perception of minimalism.”

Sure, my home is ironically very neutral with blank walls.

But if you observe my content closely, you’ll notice I don’t promote how my home looks (ever).

The decision to keep my home this way has everything to do with Alexius and my preferences and not to look minimalist.

Here’s my point.

If your goal is to get your home to look like ____’s home on YouTube, then you’re missing the point.

Minimalism is not a predetermined template.

Create your own instead.

#3: I Stop Confusing Decluttering with Organizing

Early in my minimalism journey, I considered myself an organizing guru - a professional Tetris player of life’s things.

But I didn’t realize the massive mistake I was making by doing something I considered myself pretty good at.

Funny story; when my wife and I met (and had been dating for less than three months), I folded and organized all the clothes in her closet by season, lol. But I digress.

Here’s the problem this presents.

Although organizing is a great way to make your home or space efficient and presentable.

Trying to organize clutter will waste time and money because all you’re doing is placing a band-aid on a wound that needs a few stitches.

Take the time necessary to sort and declutter first. Organizing comes later.

This simple switch will transform your decluttering journey and eliminate the bulk of your overwhelming feelings because you’re not attempting to create peace in the middle of chaos.

In Summary

If you implement these three steps, you’ll start to see a shift in your mindset and perspective.

You’ll begin to view decluttering as an essential and exciting part of creating your life rather than stripping away the life you have.

So next time you’re contemplating what to keep versus what to let go of, take a step back, silence the outside opinions, remember these tips, and make the best decision for you.

 This Week’s Action Step

If you don’t know your core values, get clear on what they are, and write them down, as that’s an essential step in the process.

If you already know your core values, clarify what they mean in practice. What can you do more (or less) to prioritize each value? What would “success” look like? Think about the actions you must take to align with your values every day.

I’m rooting for you, my friend, and I want you to conquer your clutter.

That’s it for today!

Keep growing on your journey, and I’ll see you next week.

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

If you’re looking for clarity and traction on your journey, I’d recommend starting with an affordable course:

⇨ The Decluttering Starter Kit: Skip the overwhelm and jumpstart your decluttering journey. This comprehensive course will teach and guide you through the system I used to transform my life from clutter to clarity. Get access here.

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