The world is spending a lot more time at home these days, and people are looking for ways to fill their time. New hobbies, long put off projects, and to-be-read piles are just a few ways people are entertaining themselves. Along with these things, many people are looking at projects around the house they’ve been meaning to tackle, including decluttering and organizing. Now, while this is a grand time for projects, the charm may wear off after a day or two, leaving you with a half-finished project and no motivation to finish it. There’s also the risk of the house going back to the way it was when things get back to normal. Here are a few tips to find and keep motivation during and after the declutter project.
Get the Right Start
- Ask yourself why you want a more organized home. To do this, try imagining your ideal lifestyle. For example, if your ideal lifestyle is one where you take better care of yourself, your family, and the earth, from a clean, peaceful home, what does that look like in practical terms? It looks like more than just organized junk drawers. According to an article found on trashking.ca, this lifestyle could look like using cloth shopping bags and switching from plastic to glass storage containers. When you get halfway through tossing out ten years’ worth of Tupperware containers and ask yourself why you keep saving those things, you’ll have an answer. Without an answer, your motivation is likely to wane quickly.
- Ask yourself if you have any internal conflicts. Many people struggle with decluttering projects because they’re strongly attached to the memories things hold. You may not like that velvet Elvis painting, but you love remembering that college trip to Vegas with your best friend. Figuring out where you may struggle, and preparing for it ahead of time, will help you hold onto your motivation when the process of letting go gets tough.
- Ask yourself if you need more motivation than just a tidy home. Finding something bigger than yourself, not just organizing tips but a whole philosophy, can give you something to fall back on if you know you struggle with staying motivated. For example, many people connect with the Marie Kondo method because it’s more than just decluttering—it’s a philosophy that advocates keeping things that speak to the heart and discarding things that no longer bring joy. Decluttering is a byproduct of the process, not the philosophy itself.
Get Everyone on Board
- Involve everyone living in the house. Decluttering can be a hard process when all family members aren’t on the same page. Include everyone from the beginning and, when conflicts arise, tackle them together. Whoever is leading the charge will lose motivation quickly if family members aren’t helping or are actively resisting. Keep in mind that you may not get everyone on board, but that doesn’t mean the project has to stop. Try finding a compromise. Maybe the kids or a spouse has objections. If so, a compromise may include a person agreeing their room is off-limits to the decluttering process in exchange for a promise their things will stay in that room.
- Include family members not living in the house. When getting started, you may encounter resistance from family members living elsewhere who still have things in your home. Grown children may resist seeing their childhood homes change, which can drag down your motivation to declutter. Get them on board by explaining your motivation, telling them the internal conflicts you’re expecting during the process, and share the philosophy that is giving you motivation.
Get Going With a Plan
- Set goals and give yourself a timeline. Unless you’ve chosen a decluttering method that says otherwise, don’t tackle everything at once. Trying to declutter an entire home in just a few days can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. Instead, set short-term and long-term goals, and then give yourself a timeline. You can set aside weekdays for small, quick projects like organizing junk drawers or a kitchen cabinet. On weekends, take a break from small projects and tackle the bigger ones. No matter what timeline you give yourself, be sure to write it down on a calendar. Having a visual deadline will keep you motivated.
- Reward yourself. Advice on successfully decluttering from Sloely states that the key to success is sticking to your goals. If seeing a deadline on a calendar or having a philosophy isn’t enough motivation, consider giving yourself small rewards. If you read every day, tell yourself that you can only read after you’ve cleaned out the junk drawer in the kitchen, or whatever your goal is that day. Use the activities you already enjoy to keep yourself motivated.
- Adapt your habits. Changing your habits is key to keeping yourself motivated while decluttering and keeping your home neat in the long run. If you love shopping, for example, consider finding a new hobby that doesn’t involve bringing more things home. You could also tell yourself that, for every item you bring home, you’ll donate one thing to charity. Slowing down the flow of things coming into your home will help you stay motivated as you work on increasing the flow of things leaving your home.
Be Patient With Yourself and Try New Things
When you feel yourself losing motivation, and none of these tricks are working, take a step back and remind yourself your home didn’t get this way overnight. It took time to get this way, and it will take time to undo. Be patient with yourself and, if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something new. If the slow and steady approach isn’t working for you, take a three-day weekend and tackle the clutter room by room. If you’re having a hard time letting go, ask someone you trust to decide on certain things for you. Not everything will work for everyone. The key is trying different motivational techniques until you find ones that work.
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