Decluttering the house when you have depression sounds like a nightmare. After all, decluttering is a huge project, isn’t it? Everyone has junk they need to get rid of in their homes, and some people (like me) have entire rooms filled with useless stuff.
And clutter can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and depression. Let me explain. If there’s a toy on the living room floor, every time you pass that toy, your brain makes a split-second decision as to whether to deal with that toy.
If you decide against dealing with that toy, the toy will remain on the floor, and every time you see it, you have to make a decision: pick up the toy and put it somewhere else, or leave it. Every time.
Say there’s 5 toys on the floor. That’s 5 decisions you have to make. You quickly begin to suffer from decision fatigue.
This is why a cluttered room is so overwhelming and difficult to start cleaning, especially when you have depression. You’re looking at the big picture.
What about Decluttering with Depression?
The trick to decluttering with depression is to break the rooms of your house down into compartmentalized parts. For example, if you were decluttering your kitchen, you’d break the room down like so:
- Spice cabinet
- Coffee bar counter
- Dish cabinet
- Cups cabinet
- Toaster counter
And so on. Rather than thinking you have to declutter the entire kitchen in a day, you can tackle one cabinet at a time. Break every room down into smaller parts, and you can work at your own pace.
If a cabinet is too much for you at once, then break the room down even further, separating out the top and bottom halves of the cabinet, or right and left halves.
3 Easy Steps to Declutter
But don’t think of decluttering as a big picture project, but a series of simple tasks. There are many ways to purge your stuff, but they all boil down to 3 easy steps:
That’s it. Those 3 easy steps will help you declutter your entire house.
The first step in decluttering with depression is to sort your stuff.
Take a picture of the space you plan to declutter. This is important for the third step.
Pull everything out of the space. Spread the junk out on a table or bed so that everything is visible.
Next, sort the stuff into piles by category, asking yourself two questions, which you’ll answer honestly:
- Have I used this in the past 6 months?
- Does it fit my life today?
Then, sort the stuff into yes piles, where you answered yes to both of those questions, or no piles, where you answered no to both of those questions. The maybe pile is for 1 yes, and 1 no.
If you’re on the fence about sorting things into piles, or you think you’re keeping too much, simply ask yourself: Would I take this with me if I had to move today? That question cuts to the heart of the matter.
Once you have all the items sorted into one of three piles, you’re ready for step two.
Are you ready for step two? Take a hard look at your piles:
- Yes piles: Keep the items gladly, and find places for them in your home.
- No piles: Toss or donate the stuff!
- Maybe piles: Place these items into a box. Write the date on the box, and set the box aside in your garage or closet. If you haven’t touched the items in the box in 3-6 months, toss the entire box. If you find yourself pulling stuff out, then keep those items and find homes for them.
Take another picture, and bask in the glow of a freshly-decluttered space. You did it! Congratulations!
Now think on how you can keep the space clear. Will you adopt a 1-item-in, 1-item-out policy? Don’t let anything into your life that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Decluttering with depression isn’t as difficult as you might think. Break rooms down into smaller parts. Sort your items into yes, no, and maybe piles. Make decisions to keep or toss or set aside the stuff. And take before and after pictures for posterity.
How do you declutter your house? Let me know in the comments!
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- How to Clean Your House with Bipolar Disorder and a Toddler, part I
- How to Clean Your House When Your Brain is a Mess, part I