Every Messy Person’s Guide to Decluttering Stuff?

a bright color bungalow with a red market umbrella in front

The Messy Person’s Ultimate Decluttering Guide is for people who consider themselves messy. This guide is for you if you have been a lifelong messy person or for people with messy homes. Only you can decide if you fall into this category. It is not a crime to be messy. If you like messy, stay messy, have fun, and share the laughter! No judgment here.

If you want to change messy habits read on. Maybe you were never taught how to sort through a disorganized and cluttered mess, so how would you know? This guide is for you if you have decided you want less clutter and a clean home. A tidy home has less stuff in it especially if it is a much smaller house.

In the first place, the clutter did not just pop up out of the blue, the clutter has likely been building for a pretty long time. Don’t worry about making your entire house a clutter-free home. That kind of thinking is way too stressful.

The smart way to address decluttering in your living space is to start by thinking about what you want, and what is your goal. If the idea of a big purge scares you look at it differently. Instead of looking at your clutter and thinking ‘What should I get rid of’? think about what you love and would like to keep.

Oftentimes when we have the desire to declutter, what we are looking for is a sense of renewal.

renewal is represented with an outdoor greenery background and a lighted light bulb resting in mulch

Mental or Physical clutter

There is a connection between physical clutter and mental clutter. When a specific area is cluttered with too much stuff and by extension disorganized, it can lead to feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. This contributes to mental clutter.

My definition of mental clutter is when my thoughts are unwelcome and get in the way of my productivity due to a lack of focus and distraction.

If your head is filled with mental clutter it may be difficult to maintain a clutter-free environment. It is like the chicken and egg thesis- which came first, the egg or the chicken?

One way to address both physical and mental clutter is to approach decluttering as a holistic process. This means not only decluttering physical items but also decluttering your thoughts and mental habits. How do you do this?

a black and white outline of a lady writing in a journal

Write your way out of messy

I just heard an interesting statistic from Brandon Gaille, the founder of a tech company. The Harvard MBA graduating class of 1979 students were asked if they set a target goal in writing and saw this written goal often.

  • 84 % replied No.
  • 13% replied they had a basic goal and no plan.
  • 3% of the graduates said they had a written goal with a written plan.

10 years later these students were contacted and this study reports the following statistics of this group.

  • The 13%group with a goal and no plan earned 2 times more money than the 84% without a goal and plan.
  • The 3%group earned 10 times more than the entire 97% without a plan.

Make a written goal and plan to declutter and you may be surprised at the results. Hang this written plan where you will see it often.

New habits compliment a clutter-free life

build good habits written in chalk on a little blackboard help by a pair of hands

If you don’t know what things you want to keep, if you don’t know what your true desires are, one of the easiest ways to learn about yourself is to write. A group of friends and I started following Julia Cameron’s exercises in her book The Artist Way at the end of the nineties. One of the exercises we most resisted was writing. 

Writing was the magic for me and for the many people who follow this exercise. I am not talking about polished writing used to write articles like this. I am talking about a different style of writing.

A pen and a cheap spiral bound notebook is my go to tool to write. I write daily, in a stream-of-consciousness style. Maybe you would like to buy or make a new special journal. Whatever is most comfortable to you is what you should use. If you prefer to use a keyboard, this too is an option.

I wrote a book with 365 daily prompts.

My take-away lesson from that experience is the thing I should do first is the thing I resist the most! 

Writing Prompts for a clutter-free home

Write the following question: What do I want? If you are writing about decluttering you could write. ‘I want to declutter my life and don’t know what to keep and what to toss, what should I do’? or ‘I want to declutter my life, home or mind and don’t know why I have the urge to declutter’. Or ‘How can I have a clutter-free home’? 

After you write the question on a blank page start writing whatever pops in your head! This is what stream-of-consciousness writing is. Pay no attention to the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. When people say they cannot write like that they are simply resisting writing. I know this to be true because this was one of my excuses.

if you have a good excuse is written on top of a big red cross

Keep writing and keep answering your questions. I have been writing for years and years and sometimes the answers come before I finish writing the question and sometimes it takes many sessions with my pen to figure a subject out. One thing is for sure and that is the answers are always inside of me, I just have to excavate them.

How to make a goal and a plan

A good idea is to carve out a little time and a quiet space to write. Schedule your writing session, get comfortable, and start writing. If you say you have no time you are resisting writing. I used the ‘no time’ excuse too. You can trade 20 minutes of scrolling or streaming to write. Most of us usually find enough time to do the most important things.

I know blank white pages staring at you can be scary. If you want help starting to write download my free writing prompts. This is a stress-free way to get you started!

These writings are for your eyes only. Some people share these thoughts with their therapists. No one is grading you and you are not writing the Great American novel. You are using writing as a tool to focus on learning what you want. As I said, this tool has proved magical for me and countless groups of people I have walked through this process with.

The key for me is to keep writing. Think of this exercise as a fantastic way to focus. It is the act of keeping still and quiet that is so helpful to me because I am type A all the way every day. By sitting still for whatever period I deem fit I am forced to sit still with a pen in my hand and focus. So many good things come to me via my stream-of-consciousness writing.

intention matters spelled out in wood blocks with a seaside sunrise in the background

Make intentions for the organized home of your dreams

If you want an uncluttered home you have to set a clear intention for yourself. This is the first step. Be proud when you take this step! Having a clear intention can help you stay motivated and focused throughout the decluttering process. An intention always needs an accompanying plan including a scheduled timeline. Without a plan including a timeline, your intentions will remain a dream only.


When you have a clear and concise goal it is time to make a plan. All plans must include a timeline or the plan is just an idle wish.

With a timeline attached to each part of your plan, you now have an accountability feature built in.

Scheduling decluttering sessions is a winning strategy. You pick the days and times that work with your schedule. You are in control of your decluttering journey.

Check this out for tips about increasing your productivity. My friend Lindsay Kelly is a productivity for business expert. You can read about (the magic of time audits) and pick up a free time audit! 

Businesses like our homes can have too much clutter and too small spaces. Lindsay will show you how to weed through a pile of stuff and have easy access to the business stuff you need. I have eliminated all my paper clutter (YEAH ME!) and am following Lindsay’s lead for neat new tricks to maintain my paper-free space. 

someone a laptop with thought bubbles whirling around his head indicating too much to do and distraction


You will get distracted while decluttering. You need to have a plan in place to recognize this and bring your distracted self back into focus.

Many people have a tough time decluttering saying they don’t know where to start. If you don’t know where to start it is because you don’t know what you want. If I know I can’t live with the cluttered mess in for example my kitchen for a moment longer, the kitchen is the place to start. 

If you don’t know what you want it is hard to make decisions regarding keeping or discarding particular items. This is the reason it is so important to learn your likes and dislikes first. Are they precious treasures or do you feel guilty to throw them away because they cost a lot or were given to you by a loved one?

Take a little bit of time to learn what you want and decluttering and decision making (link) will be a lot easier.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a helpful tool in addressing both physical and mental clutter. Don’t shy away from the word mindful for fear it is too ‘woo woo’ out there. It is not.

Linda Marie shows some mindfulness hacks for everyday life. 

take a deep breath posted on a cork board with 2 red thumb tacks

When I am stressed out breathing mindfully brings me into the present. So much of our stress is generated from thoughts of the past that you can’t change, or fear of the future. If all we are doing is stressing about yesterday and tomorrow we will miss out on today.

I breath out for 4 long counts and breathe in the same. I picture stress leaving on my exhale and peace entering during my inhalation of breath.


You have to be good to yourself. You can’t expect others to be good to you if you are not good to yourself.

Decluttering can be an emotional process. It is important to prioritize self-care along the way including taking breaks, getting enough sleep, exercising, and seeking support from friends or a professional if needed.

Accountability will help a messy person declutter

There is no shame in needing a little extra help. People with an accountability partner, like the buddy system, will find success. I have a partnership in one of my businesses and we hold each other accountable. It is an awesome tool to use. 

If you are trying to declutter for the first time an example of how an accountability partner can help is to remind you to make one small change at a time because little changes are not as intimidating and easier to adopt. Buddies support each other. Buddies can also help move a procrastinating person along. Having an accountability partner offers me less stress.

2 red gumby dolls -one with arm around the other

Whatever you decide needs decluttering, the linen closet, children’s baby clothes, the kitchen countertop, a large area, or a little space all you have to do is decide what you want, make a goal, and a plan with a timeline, and in no time you will have what you deem to be a proper home!

Happy Decluttering!

Marj pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed and always a few laughs!

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