Over the years, I’ve noticed that whenever someone expresses disdain for organizing it generally involves difficulty with getting started. Let’s face it– a mountain of clutter can make anyone feel like giving up before they’ve even begun. My belief is that this feeling of defeat often stems from an assumption that “getting organized” is a huge, daunting task. Not so!
The reality is that effective organization is not a task that demands hours upon hours of effort followed by a year of zero maintenance. Yes. It does take work, but it shouldn’t require you to devote all of your free time to ensuring that your home is always flawless. Where’s the fun in that? I encourage anyone struggling in this area to abandon the idea that “getting organized” is a destination and instead start viewing it as a process. And the most important step in any process is simply getting started. So here are three tips that help me on days when I feel overwhelmed.
1. Set a timer.
You can do anything for 10 minutes. And you would be surprised by how far that amount of time can take you when it comes to de-cluttering your home. 10 minutes allows you to fold and put away the clean laundry. 10 minutes and you can turn that junk drawer into the perfect place to neatly store office supplies. In 10 minutes, you can make extra space in your closet by removing things that you no longer wear. And if you still don’t feel like organizing after that 10 minutes is over, you have my permission to walk away–guilt free. But who knows? You may feel so great about what you’ve accomplished that you keep going.
2. Take Baby Steps
I’ve seen it so many times: We decide to organize a room and pull out EVERYTHING from every nook and cranny. “I’m going to be ruthless,” we say. Instead, we end up too exhausted to continue and things look worse than when we started. Make it easy on yourself! Start with only one drawer, one closet, or one corner of the room. If you finish early and are still motivated then by all means, continue. But if your sessions typically end with a giant pile of stuff in the middle of the room, then I recommend that you try taking on smaller projects. This tactic is particularly helpful if you have trouble focusing on the task at hand.
3. Reward Yourself
Sometimes the best way to find motivation is to give yourself an incentive. If you’re struggling, promise yourself a reward that is meaningful to you. For instance, maybe you’ll treat yourself to an afternoon latte if you complete a small project that you’ve been avoiding. Or buy yourself a new sweater once you’ve successfully cleared your closet of old clothes that no longer fit. Your reward can be something free like a hot bath with a book from the library. Enjoy the reward while you work on your task if you prefer. For instance, you could make a “rule” that you only watch a favorite tv show or movie while you work on one of your projects. The most important thing is to take pride in your accomplishments and celebrate.
So there you have it. 3 tips to help you get started on your projects. Keep in mind that these tips also translate well to any non-organizational goals. Try them out and see which ones work best for you.