How do you start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed? Today Carly has a TON of great tips for decluttering and feeling overwhelmed (which is SO NORMAL).
Today’s guest is Carly Adams:
Carly Adams is a home organizer and owner of Tidy Revival, based in Sacramento, CA. She helps her clients and students get organized at home, through 1:1 work and in her course community. Carly is a self-proclaimed “organizational nerd” that loves to geek out on the topic regularly on the Tidy Revival Blog. When she’s not working, she can be found relaxing at home, collecting houseplants, snuggling her dog Gimli and enjoying takeout with her husband Corey.
Carly’s Free class: How To Create A Clutter-Free Home WITHOUT Giving Up All Your Free Time
This episode was inspired by my post about Organizing When You’re Overwhelmed!
Big thanks to our sponsor The Organized Home we give you the step by step tips to side-step that overwhelm and keep going, come join us to make a change in your 2023!
Producer: Drew Erickson
[00:00:00.090] – Hilary Erickson
[00:00:00.450] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today we are talking about decluttering. I know, I know. Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:18.290] – Hilary Erickson
Hi, I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast: pregnancy and parenting untangled. There’s no right answer for for every family, but on this show, we hope to give you some ideas to make life simpler at your house. Life’s tangled, just like my hair.
[00:00:40.170] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, before we get started, remember to leave a review. Sure appreciate them. Thank you so much.
[00:00:44.910] – Hilary Erickson
Today’s guest is the organizer behind Tidy Revival. I love that name. She is based in Sacramento, California, and she helps people to organize their homes through one-on-one work. She also has courses, and she is a self proclaimed organizational nerd, which I absolutely love. I want to introduce today’s guest, Carly Adams.
[00:01:04.050] – Hilary Erickson
Do you ever just feel like it’s unfair that some people can have company over at a moment’s notice? Their house is just super easy to clean up, and they can relax on the couch with Netflix? While you feel like you always have things to do around your house, that can totally be you, the organized home is here to help you simplify organizing. We’re talking about decluttering, zones, organization, systems that actually work. We’ve got assignments and challenges. I hope you’ll join us. You can use coupon code UNTANGLED. Look for the organized home. Link in the show notes.
[00:01:33.630] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, Carly. Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:01:36.310] – Carly Adams
Thank you so much for having me, Hilary. I’m really excited to be here.
[00:01:39.540] – Hilary Erickson
Yes, I am so ready to declutter, like, every morning. I feel like I should just go through my closet today.
[00:01:47.410] – Carly Adams
I know I have so many projects that even I can work on, and I do this for a living, so I feel you.
[00:01:53.460] – Hilary Erickson
Well, I mean, we have a lot of house.
[00:01:55.200] – Carly Adams
Yes. Too much house, too much stuff. And if we’re all being honest, american culture makes it so easy to keep getting more stuff, and it just kind of seamlessly seems to flow into our spaces.
[00:02:08.310] – Hilary Erickson
It sure does. So today we’re going to talk about what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. And I think, first off, we need to say that’s so normal. I totally feel that too.
[00:02:16.300] – Carly Adams
Yes, 100%. That’s what I hear from I’m going to say, like, 95% of the people that I start to work with is I don’t know where to start. Because it feels overwhelming.
[00:02:27.270] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, so overwhelming because you got to think it’s a whole house, like, in your mind, that’s what you’re thinking.
[00:02:32.420] – Carly Adams
Exactly. And that’s why I’m really excited to talk today, because we want to take it from nobody can see my hands, but I’m doing kind of like a big sphere, like getting organized, and instead of doing that, breaking it down into teeny, tiny chunks so that it’s doable. So you have a plan, and so it breaks it down from being overwhelming to being like, okay, I know what to do and I know what to do next.
[00:02:55.130] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. I will say even tiny chunks, there are times that I’m just like, just burn the house down like I’m just done.
[00:03:01.610] – Carly Adams
I was joking with a client recently. I was like, there’s not many things I’m good at but decluttering. And then small controlled fires just to help people just be like, you know what? Just forget it. This area, we’re just going to burn it to the ground, right?
[00:03:17.200] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, that’s how you feel. So if you’re like these very organized people, don’t ever feel like that. You’re wrong. We all feel like that. And there are times that every organizing project I’m like, this was dumb. This was stupid. Why did I do this?
[00:03:29.090] – Carly Adams
Yeah. And as somebody who works regularly with folks on over stuffed closets or rooms, entire rooms, that has become kind of quote unquote in my clients words, like the dumping ground, it’s easy to feel that, especially when it feels like the walls are closing in on you. You are not alone. This is very normal. And honestly, these strategies, I had to work on this for myself when I was decluttering. But these are things that I work on for myself when I’m helping other people constantly. So very normal.
[00:04:00.710] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, so what do we do when we’re overwhelmed? What are our steps?
[00:04:03.770] – Carly Adams
Okay, so we need a plan. Basically, that’s the first thing we need. And that’s what it all boils down to. Because without a plan, it’s overwhelming. But having a plan keeps overwhelmed at bay because you have a direction.
[00:04:17.630] – Carly Adams
So the biggest analogy and the reason that I talk about this is because without a plan, you can go into kind of squirrel mode. You’re like, okay, well, I’m starting here, but then there’s something that needs to go in the bathroom. And then I see the bathroom is a little unorganized. So then I’m like, I start working in there. There’s something that needs to go into the kitchen. And then I see this drawer also needs organization.
[00:04:39.570] – Carly Adams
So you just end up working a little bit here, a little bit there. You’re not making any real progress anywhere. So it feels like you’re not accomplishing anything because nothing’s really getting finished. So the reason we have a plan is so that we can take a project again, break it down into tiny chunks, but then complete one of the chunks, check something off the list, give ourselves a high five because we’ve done something. So people always say, I don’t know where to start.
[00:05:05.020] – Carly Adams
Also very normal. And so what I say when you’re doing your plan and basically I’m going to talk you through how to make your plan. So when you’re making your plan, I always suggest like, brainstorming. And the place that I want at the top of your list is going to be a space that’s bugging you every day and a bonus points if it’s bugging you every day. Maybe it’s a space that’s you just for mom, something that doesn’t have to do with taking care of everyone else. Because as parents and busy professionals, matriarchs of the home, you’re often doing that all the time. So if this is your bathroom, your clothing, a space that is for you, that’s going to help you feel even happier because you’re doing something for yourself. It’s self care at the same time.
[00:05:48.260] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And no one’s going to mess it up.
[00:05:50.990] – Carly Adams
It’s your realm. You can totally control it. That’s an amazing point. 100% and more bonus points. If it’s a space, I want it to be a space that’s bugging you every single day.
[00:06:01.650] – Carly Adams
So this can be a space that you hopefully use every day too. So when you have that win, it’s going to keep you motivated. And to your point, other people aren’t coming in in the meantime, messing it up. This is your domain. So we’re going to take whatever that project is the next step. Like say for instance, it’s your closet. Instead of thinking like, okay, closet, as the first step, we’re going to write that down. But then we’re going to break it down into smaller steps.
[00:06:26.230] – Carly Adams
So that could be and I’m just going to talk about my closet. Just for instance, everyone’s closet space is a little bit different. So maybe that’s going to be in my closet. There’s kind of like three rack sections. I can break those down into three different sections. So section one, section two, section three. I have a dresser in my closet that houses my off season clothing. I’m a fan of seasonal rotations. Not everyone is. Personal choice, but for me that could be, okay, I’m going through drawer one, drawer two, drawer three, drawer four.
[00:06:57.110] – Carly Adams
It could be I’m going through there’s three different sections of the top of my closet. It could be section one, section two, section three. The goal is to break it down into tiny chunks so that you can take care of that chunk in like 15-20 minutes. Because that chunk of time is so much easier to find in your day than, okay, I need to sit down and block out the whole day for this. And I need to make sure to get a babysitter and I need to pull everything out of the closet. And then once everything is out, then it feels overwhelming. Especially in closets, actually, because I hear advice or I hear people say a lot like, okay, I’m going to start my closet. So first thing, pull everything out, right, and you see TV shows and things advocating this. I’m going to say I’m not a fan of it because specifically with hanging clothes, it’s so much easier to go through hanging clothes when they’re hanging. And instead of taking everything out and putting on a bed, it’s just easier to go through it one by one and say, are we keeping it or does it need to go to a seasonal rotation if you’re making one.
[00:07:54.660] – Carly Adams
Or is this a maybe? Let’s set aside the maybe. Let’s see what we have. After we have all the yeses, then we can go ahead and look at the maybes. Are these things we need to try on? Let’s put this in a pile. Let’s try on all the things at the same time. So just like a dressing room, it’s like, what do we think about it? Side tip, if you’re going through clothes, if there are things that you’ve tried on 20 mornings and you never end up wearing it, count it as a no. It’s not the best thing for you. We want everything in your closet to be like, heck yes, versus I mean, it was $7, so I should keep it. That’s not the best reason to keep it. So tiny chunks, 15-20 minute projects. And then I wanted to give a few tips on things to have on hand when you start because I’ve just found this to be wildly helpful. These are the same supplies that I have. I mean, I have some other things too that we might need, like just in case when I’m with clients. But if I’m in a client home, I come with like three trash cans.
[00:08:49.130] – Carly Adams
I just stack and I bring them with me. So one is label for trash recycling, donate. And then if you’re working in a space that has a lot of paper, I would also bring something for a shred pile and that just allows us, as we’re going through things, to immediately say trash recycle, donate. As those bins get full, you could bag it up, you could put those in separate piles, take it all out at the end of whatever amount of time you’re doing, and it just makes it a lot easier than whatever is going to be a keep. You’re going to want to sort those as you go. So in the closet example, keep shirts, keep pants, keep workout gear, whatever your categories are. I also highly recommend making sure to eat something before you start any decluttering project. If it is before meal time, have that meal. If it’s between meal time, maybe just eat a little snack. Always have water on hand because blood sugar levels cannot stress to you enough the importance of making sure your blood sugar levels are steady while you’re going through this process because all the decision making will be fatiguing.
[00:09:50.130] – Carly Adams
And I would be like, this is something that as someone who does this with clients all the time, my personal food schedule revolves around when my client sessions are so that I can have a lot of protein and have very even blood sugar levels before a session starts.
[00:10:06.900] – Hilary Erickson
I think that’s such a good idea because a lot of times you get to the end you haven’t eaten because you’ve been so focused. And then you’re just like, I can’t even haul out the stuff to the trash or whatever I’m just spent. And you want enough to finish, like, power through the end. Like a workout.
[00:10:23.200] – Carly Adams
Exactly. And it’s just like a workout. You fuel up before the workout, or you make sure to just have a plan in place for it. Or how they say, don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Like, it’s just the worst idea. Yeah. Blood sugar levels, it’s crazy important. You kind of don’t think of it as being related, but I promise you it’s super, super related. But yeah, those are the biggest things. You just want projects that you could start and finish if you need to in 15 or 20 minutes. You can go longer if you want to, but if you start there, that’s fine too. And that’s the thing that I want to stress. Like, that’s fine, too. Not everything needs to be a giant sprint. This is really a marathon. But even marathon runners, like, they’re training and they’re breaking down that race into tiny chunks mentally so that it’s not overwhelming as like, a giant race. So do something that’s small enough so you can cross it off your list. If anyone’s listening to this and then they do it, feel free to DM me. I want to digitally high five you like, you did it.
[00:11:23.450] – Carly Adams
This is awesome. And that’s going to help you stay focused, because then when you have this plan in place in this list, you can cross it off the list and then you know where to work on next. So when you feel yourself starting to squirrel, you know where to focus in.
[00:11:36.080] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I’m a huge fan of that type of list because I need someone to tell me what to do. Even if that person was me, like a week ago, I need that person to tell me what to do.
[00:11:44.200] – Carly Adams
Yes. I love when I’m like, thank you so much past me. That was really great what you did there. That’s the best feeling.
[00:11:53.230] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, because it can if you don’t know. Okay. The first day, I was drawing number one. Today, I’m drawer number two. You could be like, Well, I think I’m just going to go to six today. Or you’re like, Should I do six or should I do two? Should I do five? No, I don’t know. We’re just doing number two. We’re just doing number two.
[00:12:09.740] – Carly Adams
Exactly. But I saw that stuff in the bathroom. The bathroom is not organized. And then I saw that drawer in the kitchen. You could say, Girl, focus in. What’s next on the list? We’re just going to focus right back in there. And if you happen to be going through a whole room that is just like we said, it’s become the dumping ground. It’s just a whole room full of things. And so there’s not really like a space. It’s just one big space. Then I suggest starting in one direction, probably, like, moving inward and then working around a room. So just like work clockwise or word counterclockwise. Just work in and then around, so that when you feel overwhelmed and you’re thinking, we still have so much to do, I feel like you start to kind of spiral roll about it. You can take a deep breath, grab some water, maybe take a little break, come back to it and say, where did I leave off and where am I going next? And just break it down into those shiny chunks. If it helps you to set a timer, do it. Pomodoro method is, like, very helpful for this.
[00:13:09.000] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, because a lot of times the room doesn’t have, like, closets are so much like that right where you’re like, today I’m doing shirt, but sometimes it’s just like a big pile. And so I’ll be like, what can I give this today? And even if it’s just five minutes, do the five minutes. It’s amazing what you can get done in five minutes when you just focus.
[00:13:28.530] – Carly Adams
The just start part is huge. And having people to cheer you on along the way is amazing, which is why I talk about accountability so much, which is why I say, like, DM me when you finish because I truly do care. You might have a lot of friends where you’re like, hey, I went through that drawer. And they’re like, cool, great story, dude, but trust me, like, me, Hillary, we care if we want to hear about it.
[00:13:52.720] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And find those friends that are wanting to organize with you so that you couldn’t bounce ideas off of or say, this was so overwhelming. And they’re like, It was so overwhelming for me, too.
[00:14:02.690] – Carly Adams
[00:14:03.380] – Hilary Erickson
Because everyone wants to feel normal.
[00:14:05.330] – Carly Adams
Yes. That’s a really huge part of the process is accountability. Knowing that you’re not alone and you truly aren’t. I know you have a community as well. This is why we build communities, so that people don’t feel alone, so that people know that they can do it and that they have help and accountability along the way.
[00:14:25.640] – Hilary Erickson
All right, so let’s summarize just get started. Use a timer, use a small place, get your supplies. Those three bins are great. I actually found some foldable ones at Costco that I really like because they’re easy to just they’re like foldable laundry bins, I think is what they’re called at Costco.
[00:14:40.160] – Carly Adams
Those are great. The ones that just squish down.
[00:14:42.360] – Hilary Erickson
[00:14:42.840] – Carly Adams
[00:14:43.290] – Hilary Erickson
So I love using those. And then just do it. It’s going to feel so much better. And then, like, revel and like, how amazing you are when drawer number one is done and you go to get your bras out or whatever, you’re like, that was so easy. I love myself. I love it.
[00:14:58.270] – Carly Adams
Exactly. Yeah. Just start. Know that you don’t have to do everything today. You just do 15 or 20 minutes. That’s fantastic. We’re proud of you. And every time you’re flexing that decluttering muscle, you’re going to be able to feel accomplished, and it’s going to help you keep going.
[00:15:13.540] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And it gets easier. Just like burpees, sort of, I guess. I guess some people feel like burpees are easier.
[00:15:18.830] – Carly Adams
Oh, my gosh, I hate burpees so much. But they do get, quote unquote, easier.
[00:15:24.930] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. All right, Carly, thank you so much for coming on. Let’s challenge everybody. Guys, do the 15 to 20 minutes. I want you, my listener, to think in your head. What area do you want to declutter first? Be it, you know, your closet or just that place that’s really bugging you every day. Set a timer or pick a spot. 15 to 20 minutes, get it done. It’s going to feel so good.
[00:15:44.130] – Carly Adams
[00:15:44.750] – Hilary Erickson
I love it. It’s like a popsicle on a hot day.
[00:15:48.510] – Carly Adams
[00:15:49.800] – Hilary Erickson
[00:15:50.790] – Carly Adams
[00:15:51.740] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, I hope you guys enjoyed that episode. I think organizing and decluttering can be so hard to get going on, so the reality is that you just have to get started, and it may hurt to get started, and it may feel overwhelming, and you have to remind yourself that that is so normal. It’s normal for all of us. It’s even normal for me, even if I’m starting a new organization system or whatever. It’s just really overwhelming. So don’t be surprised by it and just embrace it. It’s normal.
[00:16:20.130] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. The Pulling Curls Podcast grows when you share us on social media or leave a review. If you do, please tag us so that we can share and send you a virtual hug, which, frankly, is my favorite kind of hugging. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.