I love decluttering, in fact, I find it quite cathartic, but I appreciate it might not be the case for you. Maybe you tried in the past, only to find out it took more time than you anticipated and lost the momentum along the way.
The reality is that, more often than not, clutter didn’t happen overnight and is not going to disappear overnight either. And it often gets worse before it gets better.
Here are a few strategies to help you find the motivation to declutter and to keep going at it.
#1 FOCUS ON THE BENEFITS INSTEAD OF THE TASK
In all likelihood, you won’t be decluttering just for the sake of it but because you’re hoping that having less clutter in your home will make a difference in your life. In the same vein, you don’t exercise just for the sake of exercising, but because you want to stay fit, healthy, sane, etc.
So be clear on what it is you’re hoping to achieve for being clutter-free. Is it that you want to save time by finding what you need when you need it? Is it that you want to save money by avoiding buying items you already have but can’t find when you need them or had forgotten you had? Is it that you want to feel less stressed and be able to relax in your home? Is it that you want to improve your relationship with your spouse because the clutter has become the subject of too many arguments? Is it that you want to be a role model for your children?
Whatever it is that you’re hoping to achieve, write it down and keep it visible. Maybe put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror so that every time you brush your teeth, you remind yourself of your objective. Or put it on the door of the fridge so that every time, you grab a drink or some food, you’ll be reminded of it. Alternatively put it on your computer screen saver or phone screen so that every time you access them, you’ll be reminded of your goal.
#2 VISUALISE THE OUTCOME
Visualisation is a powerful technique to help you achieve a desired outcome. When you visualise, you focus on a goal you want to achieve and hold it in your mind, imagining your outcome becoming a reality. This technique is often used by athletes to improve their performance, increase their power of concentration, reduce the pressure of competition, etc. I use it when I give a talk that makes me feel nervous, I picture myself going in confident and coming out satisfied. It really helps!
You’ll find plenty of resources on the internet on this topic, but in essence, you want to start by putting yourself in a state of relaxation (find a quiet space, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths). Then picture in your mind in as many vivid details as you can how your clutter-free home will look like and how it will make you feel.
Say you want to achieve a clutter-free wardrobe. Picture your wardrobe with clothes neatly hung and folded, sorted by category, smelling fresh and clean, etc. And picture yourself calm / relaxed / happy / energized / empowered while looking at your wardrobe.
Bring this image as many times as possible during the day. Believe it’s possible to achieve this as you’ve seen it.
#3 MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
It can be tough to go in there alone, so what about getting an accountability buddy? It’ll make the process less daunting, and you’ll get encouragement along the way.
Help can be in the form of a friend or a family member – even if they are not close by. A client of mine shared a picture of her messy desk on Facebook. The comments she got from her friends kept her going until she got it tidied.
Of course, it’s important that you have a resource who won’t be harsh or judge you as you go through the process. You need someone who won’t make decisions on your behalf or judge you, but someone who will be checking on you to make sure you’re progressing according to plan.
And that’s often when I come into the picture. I know it can be intimidating to bring a stranger in your home who will witness the full extent of the mayhem, but as Shola, one of past clients said, “There was absolutely no need to be anxious. Nathalie is a lovely person: calm, generous, absolutely non-judgmental, and incredibly empathetic. She’s there with you always, elbow-deep in clutter so you never have to face it alone. She helped me put systems in place to deal with the never-ending chaos generated by 3 children. The outcome is a home that is still lived in but clutter-free and organized beautifully.”
You could also commit to an event to be held at home on a certain date to give you the motivation to declutter before then. Think about hosting a dinner party, a playdate, or a sleepover, or even joining a webinar using a real background.
#4 PLAN A REWARD
Planning a reward upon achievement of your goal can also increase the positive experience of the task at hand and improve your motivation to declutter. If you can, reward yourself with an experience instead of stuff. After all, you don’t want to bring in more stuff once you’ve worked hard to get rid of some. A spa treatment, a game of golf, a meal in a nice restaurant, etc can make nice rewards.
Which of the above strategies would best help you find and keep the motivation to declutter? Or another strategy that has proved useful to you? Share in the comments section below.