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High Impact Decluttering Strategies for When You’re Struggling

High Impact Decluttering Strategies for When You’re Struggling

Sometimes decluttering can be difficult and the traditional decluttering checklists and tips just don’t work. If this is a problem you’re facing, here are some high impact decluttering strategies for when you’re struggling to declutter.


Decluttering is the process by which we remove stuff that we don’t use, don’t need, doesn’t add value and that we don’t appreciate in some way.

Decluttering has many benefits and helps give us more space in our homes, a home that’s easier to keep clean and tidy, is a more relaxing and inviting environment and that often functions better for those who live in it.

Clutter takes up our time and energy and costs us in many ways. The different types of clutter in our lives distract and remove us from living that life as fully as possible because our home and days are stuffed full of other things that compete for our attention.


If a decluttered home benefits us in so many ways, why do we find decluttering so difficult and, often feel anxious about getting rid of stuff?

There are many reasons, here are just a few:

  • We can’t decide what to keep and what to get rid of and what questions to ask as we declutter
  • We feel overwhelmed at the amount of stuff and don’t know where or how to begin
  • We don’t have much time or are worried about wasting money
  • We struggle with the physical requirements of moving, sorting and lifting
  • We find it tough to keep on track, stay focused and follow checklists or keep up with decluttering challenges or too many instructions
  • We can’t summon up the energy or motivation or get in the right mindset to declutter

These are just a few of the common reasons why we find decluttering hard but there are many others.


If you are struggling to declutter, don’t be disheartened. There are plenty of ways that you can declutter your home, regardless of how or what you find difficult.

That’s not to say that decluttering will be easy, or your decluttering will be perfect, but there are some tips that I’m sharing in this article, to help you move towards your decluttering goals (your reason(s) for decluttering) and achieve a more clutter-free home and life, step by step.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

High Impact Decluttering Strategies for When You're Struggling to Declutter


Here are some high impact decluttering strategies for when you’re struggling to declutter. You might find these helpful if you feel pressured by decluttering challenges, overwhelmed at decluttering checklists, or lacking in motivation or energy to try out lots of decluttering tips just to find the right ones for you.

Most of the following decluttering strategies are all relatively easy and/or straightforward and designed for high impact with low stress!

1. Stop shopping for non-essentials

If you want to deal with the clutter in your home, the first strategy I suggest is to stop bringing new clutter into your home.

Put in place a shopping ban, not for essentials like food, but things like clothes, home décor, bargains and stuff that you could easily do without. Set yourself a time period, such as a month or two, and see what a difference it makes to the inventory in your home.

Do you also notice a change in your shopping habits more generally?

Maybe you’ll explore other activities rather than a trip to the shops to while away a slow day?

Or perhaps you pay closer attention to what you spend your money on and shop more strategically?

You might even find you save yourself money as well as extra clutter during that time!

Further reading: Minimalism and shopping – 18 ways to shop with intention

2. Stop clutter at your front door

Apart from shopping, another way to break the cycle of clutter is to stop clutter at the front door – literally!

Turn junk mail away, tidy up your entrance way so you have a home for everything and everything in its home. Keep your keys, bag and other items you reach for regularly handy but tidy.

The entrance to your home sets the tone for what lies inside, not just for you but also as a first impression for any guests that might visit.

When you walk in through your front door, do a quick mental sweep of what you’re carrying in with you. Does it need and deserve a place in your home?

When you’re out shopping and before you buy something, be really clear whether you need that item and where it’s going to live when it gets to your home. If you don’t know where to keep it, then should you really be buying it in the first place?

The front door is the threshold to your home but also the threshold to your personal sanctuary away from the world. Guard it carefully so that you’re not letting into your home and your life anything that you don’t want to be there.

Suggested resource: We look at how to declutter your entrance way and hall in Simplify Your Home. So, if you do want some helpful tips, you might like to see if Simplify Your Home is right for you.

3. Keep a donation box handy by your front or back door and in your closet

Decluttering should be as easy to do as to keep the stuff in our homes. Human nature is often to choose the path of least resistance so make decluttering and staying clutter-free really easy, for you and your family.

Keep a box next to your front door, back door or somewhere visible and accessible in your home. Whenever you come across something that you no longer want to keep, put it in the box. Get rid of the contents of that box regularly, every week or so.

This way you don’t need to go hunting for trash bags and boxes to put your unwanted stuff in, or worry about where to keep the stuff until you get rid of it. The boxes are already there, waiting for you to fill them.

You could even keep a donation box in your closet for any clothes that you try on but don’t like to wear. This way it’s easier to throw them in the box than to hang them up again!

Once you have that box in place, then you could try putting one or more items in there each day if you feel like it.

Further reading: For more tips on clothes decluttering, you might enjoy this article on how to decide which clothes to keep and which to declutter.

High Impact Decluttering Strategies for When You're Struggling to Declutter

4. Take advantage of weekly waste and recycling collections

Building on the point above, make use of your waste and recycling collection days when you know that anything you don’t want to keep will be taken away with minimal effort and organisation from you.

Our collection day is Thursday so every Wednesday I wander round the house collecting up rubbish, recycling and unwanted items so I can bag them up and leave them outside to be collected the next morning. I’ll also have a quick root through drawers, cupboards and my fridge and freezer to see if there’s anything I need or want to get rid of.

One of the reasons why we struggle to declutter is knowing how and where to get rid of our unwanted stuff. Let the waste collection teams in your neighbourhood do that on your behalf!

Action point: What day does your rubbish get collected this coming week and can you bag or box up one load of stuff to get rid of on that day?

5. Limit flat surfaces

We all know that flat surfaces such as counters, table-tops, desks, bedside tables, floors and even stairs are notorious clutter hotspots. It happens in my home too. Give my husband a flat surface and he’ll fill it like a sponge soaks up water!

To counteract the magnetic attraction of clutter to flat surfaces, a helpful decluttering strategy could be to avoid flat surfaces. It might not be practical to get rid of all our furniture, but here’s a few examples:

  • Have one central coffee table in your lounge but no side tables (I use floor-standing lamps instead of table lamps so I have adequate lighting without needing a table to sit the lamp on).
  • Use a chest of drawers as a bedside table instead of needing both. Yes, this might mean you have a larger than necessary surface next to your bed but you won’t have both a chest of drawers AND a nightstand providing two lots of flat surfaces.
  • Be creative with storage to avoid the need for flat surfaces. For example, if you don’t like piles of paperwork on your counters, either come up with a good strategy for dealing with paper clutter, or use magazine racks which are vertical and take up less space or wall-hanging paper organisers to make sure of vertical surfaces.

Helpful tip: Choose furniture that doesn’t have (too many) drawers if you’re afraid you’ll stuff those drawers full of junk. My coffee table doesn’t have drawers for this very reason!

6. Stop buying storage you don’t need

I’ve done it myself in the beginning. I thought buying more storage would help me be more organised and clutter-free. However, all that really happened was that I had more storage furniture, boxes and containers filling my space and the same, if not more, clutter to put inside this extra furniture.

Before you go to buy more storage, assess the stuff and the storage you have right now. It’s a common decluttering mistake but buying storage to organise as we declutter lulls us into a false sense of security about how we’re dealing with (or avoiding dealing with) our clutter.

Declutter before you organise so that you’re only organising the items you want to keep. Nobody wants to waste time and energy organising clutter that they’ll later get rid of. Organising is also much easier and enjoyable when you have less stuff to try to cram into the available space.

If you find yourself buying storage, stop and think about where you’ll keep it and what will go inside it. If you can’t answer these questions, do you really need to buy it in the first place?

If you can answer these questions then storage is a great way of organising your home so it functions well for you.

One of my most successful storage decisions is having an Ikea Kallax unit in my hallway. Every member of my family has a Drona box which they use for their shoes and these boxes sit in the Kallax unit. Whilst it isn’t very beautiful, it works brilliantly because everyone can throw their shoes in there quickly and easily. The unit is much nicer to look at than a pile of grubby shoes strewn around the floor and it’s simple to keep clean too.

7. Use space to impose limits to your clutter

The Kallax unit I mentioned above is for our seasonal shoes. I keep wellies and boots in another place. When one of us has too many shoes to fit in our respective box then I know it’s time to declutter. I use the space to impose limits on how much stuff we have.

The same is true for my books. I have a bookcase in my living room and when I have too many books to fit in that bookcase, I go through them and donate any that I don’t want to keep.

Decluttering can be a struggle when we make decisions with our heart and not our head. That means that decluttering can be emotional and more to do with our mindset than the clutter itself.

Using the space available to determine how much of something to keep is a great way of removing the burden of decision-making from you. You just decide that you’re only going to have one shelf for mugs and no more, one cosmetic bag for your make-up, one drawer for your undies.

Remove the emotion, keep decluttering as factual and straightforward as possible, and be clear with yourself that your clutter must keep within its boundaries.

Check that your clutter is staying within its defined space limitations regularly so it’s not a big and overwhelming job to get rid of it.

You could tackle that mug shelf whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or your make-up bag whilst you’re doing your make-up tomorrow morning.

Reminder: Little and often is the key to decluttering and staying clutter-free. Try these daily decluttering routines for some ideas.

8. Avoid decor and other items that make your home look cluttered

Even after you’ve decluttered it’s still possible for your home to look and feel cluttered. It’s frustrating and demoralising when you spent time and energy getting rid of stuff, only for there not to feel or look like you’ve made much progress!

Take a look around your home or the room you’re standing in right now. Does it feel cluttered?

There are many ways that we can clutter our homes without even realising it. Some of these reasons could be too much or too big furniture, too many pieces of wall art hanging on our walls, conflicting patterns and colours, even the way in which you group photos or ornaments on a shelf can affect how they look and feel.

Further reading: Take a look at this article for things that make your home look cluttered. Do you recognise any of them in your own home?


Many people struggle to declutter and it’s even more difficult to declutter when you’re easily overwhelmed by checklists, challenges and an endless stream of seemingly helpful tips.

I hope the high impact decluttering strategies I’ve shared here could give you some other ideas to try. Do you have any others that you’ve found helpful and you’d like to share here which might help others who are also struggling to declutter?

Leave a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts!



Wednesday 9th of August 2023

I really appreciate your posts. I have only been on my journey for about a year now and through a couple no-buy months, I have come to some shocking realizations. I have a spending problem! My new goal is to make it a full year of no buy. I also realize now how my home feels when I walk in the door. Let's just say I haven't reached "sanctuary" status yet. I am a visual person so I need more visually, but I am learning to be more intentional with my surroundings. Having a box handy has really helped to not hang/put that item back up!

Balance Through Simplicity

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Hi Kristi, Thank you so much for your comment and I'm glad you find my articles helpful. You make a really important point about being a visual person yet making your home more intentional. Simplifying, decluttering and minimalism aren't just about getting rid of things for the sake of it. They're about finding ways to make each of our own lives better by having more of what supports us and less of what doesn't. And, of course, that looks different for all of us. I wish you the best of luck and please let me know how you get on with your no-buying!