How overwhelm can help you get unstuck and do something about a cluttered space

Do you have a cluttered zone in your house or your workspace that brings up overwhelm when you look at it but you aren’t getting around to sorting it out?

It’s a tricky thing, no doubt about it.

But it isn’t quite the problem it seems…

If your space is getting you down but you are putting off going through the stuff, it really is very understandable.

When you’ve got too much stuff to keep on top of, it’s also too much stuff to sift through and make decisions about, right?

Even thinking about going through it all can feel like too much.

But it’s also overwhelming to think about things not getting better…

Overwhelm on top of overwhelm on top of overwhelm. Ooops!

Waves of overwhelm

The start of this new year for me brought a refresher course in all the ins and outs of swimming in overwhelm. Because of flu.

I was feeling scared from not seeing a way to help myself feel better for “too many” days.

I kept thinking of what other people would do in the situation. I also knew I wouldn’t do those things – they either seemed impossible for me or simply not “me”.

Overwhelmed and discouraged, I watched myself not do anything else that I’d have  confidence in. I couldn’t see a solution.

My symptoms seemed too much but I was stuck.

Sounds familiar?

How overwhelm works

Overwhelm is never far away where there is too much stuff (of any kind). Yet  uncomfortable as that state is – the emotion itself is healthy.

In fact, overwhelm really is your ally.

Overwhelm has your back because it alerts you to track the volume of stuff you’re handling and reminds you to check what’s right for you.

Influenced by the “more is better” culture, most people find themselves with more stuff that they can manage.

You may feel embarrassed about it piling up and not getting round to tidying it but too much is just and only that: too much.

When life changes, e.g. when you inherit a loved one’s possessions or move a house, the only-just-manageable volume of stuff easily becomes overwhelming.   

Mostly, people try to cope by avoiding the issue.

But overwhelm keeps flagging it up to you and for a good reason.

No, there is nothing wrong with YOU!

There just is a right volume of stuff for you and there is too much.

Your home space doesn’t have too be overwhelming. Your home is THE space where you are meant to feel cared for, not burdened.

Lean into your overwhelm for leverage

Where to begin when you’ve got piles of stuff and the prospect of going through it seems like too much?

People usually discover what they CAN do within the first (free!) conversation they have with me about their space.

From this, I conclude two things.

1. If you have clutter in your house, sorting it will be easier than you think. Take heart!

2. The trick is to acknowledge but not be impressed by the thoughts suggesting that your situation is impossible to improve.

And here, our friend overwhelm can be surprisingly helpful.

In my recent dance with the flu, there was no improvement until I paid attention to what my overwhelm was trying to show me.

I realised that I needed to eat and do less. Duh! To think I teach this stuff to people!

Only when I allowed myself to eat less and  rest instead of ruminating on things I “should be doing”, I experienced a breakthrough and a very welcome improvement.

It really happened as soon as I got closer to my overwhelm, to hear it out.

It was overwhelm that helped me get better and in a way that I didn’t have to do something I hated for it.

What exactly is your overwhelm trying to tell you about your needs?

Now over to you.

What would happen if instead of avoiding thinking about your overwhelming space, you’d pause to listen to what your overwhelm knows about your needs in that area?

Where is there too much stuff for you to handle easily?

What exactly causes the problem?

And what would feel just lovely in the for-now problem area?

The number one ‘cure’ for overwhelm

So to recap, your overwhelm is healthy.

As such, it’s not really something to cure.

But – since this messenger is rather persistent – you’ll want to pay attention and respond, the way you’d not ignore a screaming baby.

As you’d get closer to the baby to see what it needs, so you need to get closer and listen to your overwhelm.

And before you worry that the experience would be too much for you, I have a relatively simple way you can begin the process.

Plus an offer of free help for after that!

1. Book 20 minutes in your diary to hear what your overwhelm has to say.

2. Grab a pen and some paper, or your favourite device if you’d rather, and go to the area in your home that you find overwhelming.

3. Listen to your overwhelm as you slowly look at the space.

What exactly IS overwhelming there?

Make a list, taking care to be as specific as you can.

For example:

– the window sill is too crowded and untidy
– 3 cushions on the sofa have a broken zip and it’s depressing
– there are piles of stuff on and around my desk and it’s hard to focus on work when I’m using it

4. Reach out for help.

If you want a makeover that will handle the lot of it and give you a simpler, well-organised space, that’s something Gentle Power can help with.

If you’d rather go slow and enlist friends’ help, the list gives you smaller, easier to manage chunks.

Address one item at a time and you’ll be more likely to think of someone or some way to help you tackle it.

PS.1.  FREE HELP!!! If you email me a copy of your list, I can help you see and plan for the way forward in a free 20 min call. My email address is: Dorota@ (plus the name of this website, without the www. and without any spaces).

PS2. If you use pen and paper, you can scan or photograph your paper list and email it as an attachment.