First, take a breath. This project, this process, doesn’t have to be painful. Now, choose the one area that's bothering you the most. Just pick one. It doesn't have to be the biggest, like a whole room or basement. Choose just one closet, or even just one desktop or shelf. Next, pick the smallest component in this space. It’s fine to pick a single pile of clothes or stack of bills on your desk.
Again: Choose just one space, and then choose just one item. Finally, pick up that one item — be it notebook, shoe, or a Q-tip — make a decision about where it goes, and act on it before putting it down.
If it’s garbage or recycling, put it in the appropriate bin. If it can be donated, put it your car or in a box for charity items. Most important, don’t put it back where it came from. Making even a little progress will feel rewarding and inspire you to continue.
Are you telling yourself how little this is, or how futile this effort is? Great! Just acknowledge these thoughts without any resistance. Take another deep breath, and continue on your mission to deal with just the one item.
The next, best step: acknowledge that you’ve just made progress! You’ve begun the project that you couldn’t begin.
Like most people, you may feel so overwhelmed with the size of any long-delayed project you forget how GOOD it feels to make even one small step of progress. Once you’re feeling even a tiny bit relieved, everything changes, and anything is possible.