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How to Start Simplifying When You Feel Overwhelmed

How to Start Simplifying When You Feel Overwhelmed


How to start simplifying when you feel overwhelmed? In this article I share some gentle tips to help you take your first steps to clearing clutter and making simple, intentional changes in your home and life.


I took a little break from writing and publishing blog posts.

It was partly because of things happening at home which needed my time and energy more. The other reason was that sometimes it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We get so immersed in the minute details of our daily life, our to do list, and in this case, myself and my blog, that we can lose sight of what we’re really trying to achieve or create.

I love writing about decluttering and simplifying because I truly believe that our lives are better with less in them.

Not less for the sake of less. Not less of the meaningful and important, but certainly less of the meaningless and unimportant.

  • More making memories, joy, laughter, learning, experiencing.
  • Less of the wasted time and money, fast fashion, processed ready-meals, stress and overwhelm.


But the success of all this decluttering and simplifying are only as good as how strong and profound your motivation and willingness is to make them happen.

It won’t help at all to get rid of things without really understanding why and how.

  • Why will getting rid of excess clothes hangers really make a difference to your day today?
  • How will decluttering your kitchen drawers actually change your life?

The answer is, these actions won’t. Not on their own anyway. But, taken as a whole and as part of a series of other small steps, then they absolutely can.

There are many benefits to simplifying life including more time, space and freedom.


There are a million and one resources you can find to help you declutter your home and simplify your life. Many of them are excellent and valuable goldmines of information with tips, checklists and all manner of lists and guidance that you can use.

But, when you feel overwhelmed by home and life, I think that the very last thing you need is yet more information and the promise of great, life-changing results, if only you would just knuckle down and get on with getting rid of your stuff. Urgh.

If it was that easy, then we’d all be doing it anyway.

We’ve heard it before that decluttering and simplifying isn’t easy or a one-size-fits-all project that you can do and tick off but even knowing that makes it feel even more complicated and overwhelming. If there isn’t a plan or textbook to follow, and certainly one that’s not even guaranteed to work for you, then where do you start?

Start simplifying quote from Arthur Ashe


I hear from so many of you that you’re feeling stuck.

Stuck with a home or life that feels too much, that you don’t know where or how to start, that you don’t even know what you need but that what you have at the moment just isn’t working for you. In fact, it may be breaking you in the long term.

If this is you, please take heart and know this…

Overwhelmed might feel a difficult and hard place to be, but it’s also a place of awareness and understanding. Of acknowledgement that where you are right now isn’t working and that you want it to change.

When you want something, you’re much more likely to make it happen because the decisions we make are largely made with our emotions. When you want something you’re much more likely to get it, rather than be told you could or should have it!

More than this though, you already have all that you need to start simplifying your home and life. It’s just a question of making some kind of start. As Arthur Ashe is often quoted, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”


So, if decluttering and simplifying feels overwhelming but you know you need to find a way to weave these into your home and life, here are some simple steps you could try…

  • Take some time to work out what is stressing you out? Is it work, is it home, is it your schedule, lack of time to catch up with friends, poor sleep? You won’t know how to change things until you know what needs changing.
  • What is affecting you the most? We all have challenges in life and each day feels like there’s a new problem or hurdle to overcome. However, can you pinpoint what is bringing you down the most? As the saying goes, “You can do anything but you can’t do everything.” And certainly not all in one go!

Your next steps will depend on how you answered the questions above but, in my experience, there are two aspects of our lives that affect us the most – our home environment and our schedule.

How to start simplifying life when you feel overwhelmed

1. How to simplify your home

Home is where many of us spend much of our time. It’s also the place for family, friends and self to rest, relax and recharge. Unfortunately, it’s also the space that fills up with the byproducts of busy life and which, in turn, affects our physical and mental health. Home also requires managing and looking after.

If home is stressing you out, I encourage you to think about decluttering. One shelf, one room, one type of item. Where you start doesn’t matter and how you start doesn’t matter. It’s making that start that really does matter.

And then you keep going. Rinse and repeat. There will be items that are more difficult to get rid of, that require some soul-searching, some self-acceptance, some decision-making and perseverance. Some methods will better for you than others… but starting is the key.

Another way to think about making your home a better environment for you to live and spend time in is to shift your perception about looking after your home. Becoming a homemaker and not just a cook, cleaner and maintenance person.

I’ll be writing more about this on the blog as it’s a gentle but powerful mindset shift. Decluttering and simplifying are all part of homemaking but intentional homemaking is a more holistic and compassionate approach which I have come to love.

2. How to simplify your time

If time, or rather lack of it, is stressing you out, then I encourage you to address this as soon as you can.

Your body and mind needs rest and recuperation to maintain a healthy balance. Being too busy and with too much in our schedules and to do lists can lead us to feel mentally stressed and/or drained and with this comes lack of concentration, focus and clarity and other physical side-effects.

Cancel, postpone or delay whatever you can. Prioritise time for yourself, time to plan, think and decide. Time spent like this may not be full of physical action but it will save you wasted time, effort and energy later on.

3. Create simple habits and routines

Lastly, get some habits and routines in place to start laying the foundation for a well-functioning home and body. To give you an example, here are some of mine:

  • Laundry once a day and put away before I go to bed
  • Consistent wakeup and sleep times
  • A 30-minute morning routine before the rest of my house wakes up to enjoy my tea and journal my thoughts
  • Load the dishwasher during the day, run it before bedtime and unload it in the morning
  • A 10-minute tidy up and reset of my home after our evening meal

I have a few other habits, but these are five of the ones that best maintain my home and myself with minimal effort.

What habits and routines would support YOU the best? Perhaps take a moment to think now? Then commit to doing one this week, add another next week, a third the week after and so on. Again, slow, gentle but making a START.

I have a free workbook on Setting Up Routines which you might find a useful guide.

How to start simplifying life when you feel overwhelmed


If dealing with your home and life, and all the component parts that make up your days feels overwhelming and tough, I hope this article encourages you to pause and take a breath.

Where you are right now most likely didn’t come to be that way overnight. It probably took a while, so unravelling the complexity of your home and life will take a while too. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible, that YOU can’t do it and that you can’t make a START.

Instead, it’s about stopping the rushing, understanding how you’re living your life right now and committing to making changes in a way that works for you, however big or small they might be.

Think of simplifying life a bit like an iceberg.

The small part of the iceberg that’s visible above the water is the declutter and action part of simplifying. The big part of the iceberg that’s not visible is the part of simplifying that we often forget but which is the biggest obstacle we need to navigate for success over the long term.

Why do we want/need to simplify?

  • What’s our end goal?
  • What do we want to be different and why?
  • How will our home and life be better?
  • How will we feel?
  • What will this enable us to do/feel/ think that we can’t at the moment?

Big questions which are hidden beneath the surface of our visible clutter.


A common question I get asked is “I feel so overwhelmed, where do I start?”

I always find this is a difficult question to answer helpfully because everyone is different. But, mostly, I would start with pen and paper.

Go back to the questions I asked earlier in this article. Of course, you can throw out the excess hangers, go through your kitchen cupboards and get rid of a few things (and this is a great way to start too) but when you’re in overwhelm, actions like decluttering feel hard.

Too much stuff, too many questions, too many risks. These just all contribute to even more overwhelm.

Instead, take a different approach.

Set aside some time, make a drink, find a comfy corner and a notebook and pen and do the inner work before you even start to tackle the outer stuff… and then make a start. Look at the bigger picture instead of the minute detail.

Here are some articles which you might like to read to help you explore your thoughts on what’s working and what’s not.


Here are some articles with different decluttering approaches for when you’re ready:


I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!


Sunday 21st of January 2024

This article couldn't have been better timed for me! I'm surrounded by bins and boxes still, post-move, because most items don't have a defined "home" yet, and I'm pretty sure that there's far too much of it to put it all away anyhow. But it all counts, right? The best cure for feeling overwhelmed is to keep nibbling away at it.

I'm looking forward to your articles on homemaking. That's an area where I definitely need an attitude shift!

Balance Through Simplicity

Monday 22nd of January 2024

Hi Laura, yes to nibbling away at our clutter! When we moved I found that I just put our stuff in cupboards to get it out of the way and see what fitted but then I've still rearranged it once or twice to make better use of the space. So, there's something to be said for living in a space when it's new and learning how to make it work for you. Good luck!