How to Get Motivated to Clean and Declutter

While some people enjoy cleaning and decluttering, others downright hate it. If you don’t enjoy the process, how can you find the motivation to clean and declutter?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Create a Plan

Before you begin to clean and declutter, create a plan for yourself. While you may feel inspired and ready to get started, your excitement can quickly wane.

Choose one or two rooms to tackle on the first day. Then make a schedule for the rest. You don’t want to rush through this process too quickly.

It’s essential to take the time to process everything, but you don’t need to process everything all in one day.

Choose a Room That’s Easy to Clean and Declutter

Do you have a small bathroom where you can start? Can you select one or two closets or one or two dressers rather than attempting to declutter a whole room?

The smaller the room or area, the more likely you are to complete the task. By breaking things up into manageable pieces, the work won’t feel so overwhelming and exhausting.

The goal is to feel good about your progress. Sometimes that means doing less in one day, so you are willing to return to the task again tomorrow.

Set a Timer

Cleaning and decluttering take a significant amount of time. If you don’t want to waste away a day cleaning up your space, set a timer. You can set it for ten minutes, thirty minutes, or two hours.

It doesn’t matter which time frame you choose; just make sure to pick a time that feels comfortable for you. The goal isn’t to race to the finish line. It’s more important to take multiple days to complete the task than to spend all day immersed in it and then decide not to continue.

You can also set a timer to give yourself breaks. Stop every thirty minutes to rest or step outside if that feels good for you.

Choose a Sunny Day 

Choosing a fair-weather day might sound counterintuitive, but I think it helps to clean after spending time outdoors. So go outside, take a short walk, sit on your porch, and breathe in a little fresh air.

Let the warmth of the sun lift your spirits. When you come back inside, open the windows a bit, so you don’t feel cooped up trying to get your house in order.

Cleaning and decluttering on a rainy day can feel dark and depressing. Pick a day where the sun is shining through the windows instead.

Envision Your Future Space

Before you begin, think about what you want your space to look like or how you want to use your rooms once your decluttering is over. Some people can perform this work in their heads. Others may choose to clip pictures or magazine images that motivate them.

How will you feel about the space once it is clean and decluttered? How is that different than the way you feel now?

Turn on Music

Find some happy tunes. When I was a teenager, I never cleaned my room without turning on music. As an adult, I try to do the same. 

You can grab your headphones or play from a speaker. Either way, you’ll want to search for music that puts you in a good mood. The better you feel, the longer you’ll be able to clean and declutter without stopping.

Take Before and After Pictures

Before you start, take pictures of the areas you want to declutter. If you dump the contents of your dresser or closet onto your bed, take photographs of that too.

When you finish cleaning up an area, take another photo so you can compare the difference between the two. If you allow these areas to get messy in the future, think about this photograph and how good your space looked after you removed the clutter.

Ask a Partner or Trusted Friend to Help

Don’t declutter alone. Grab your partner or best friend for moral support. Empty the contents of your dresser and closet and step through each item one at a time. If you love something, put it back in its place. If you don’t, it’s time to hold a mini-fashion show.

Try on the clothes in your closet one piece at a time. Each time you aren’t sure if something looks right, ask your friend or significant other for their opinion.

If you find it difficult to declutter, ask why they don’t like it. Is the color wrong? Is the shape unflattering? If you don’t love something, follow your companion’s advice and get rid of it.

If you are struggling to part with your possessions, find a box, tuck the questionable items inside, and add the date. Agree to review the contents after a certain amount of time. It can be three, six or nine months. Heck, it can even be a year, but if you haven’t touched the items by then, it’s time to get rid of them.

Turn Your Hangers Around

When you place items back into your closet, turn all of your hangers around. Face them the opposite way you would expect to hang them. Any time you wear a garment, turn the hanger around the right way.

In six months, take a good hard look at the items in your closet. Ask yourself two questions: Have you worn everything inside? Which hangers are facing the right way and which are still facing backward?

Now you can see which items you didn’t wear. Why didn’t you wear them? Maybe you didn’t wear a snow coat because it didn’t snow much this year, but what about the other items?

Why are you hanging on to possessions you don’t wear? Is it time to remove them?

Clear Your Drawers and Shelves

Repeat this process with each of your drawers and shelves. What can you live without? If you feel panicked about getting rid of something, call in reinforcements. Ask a trusted family member, partner, or friend for their advice. If you are still worried about decluttering, box these items up, too, using the technique above.

Make a note of the date. Then set a calendar reminder to discard the box between six months and a year from now. Whatever you haven’t pulled out in that time probably isn’t wanted or needed.

Add Up the Costs of Every Item You Discard

There is nothing more painful during the decluttering process than realizing how much money you’ve wasted on items you don’t want or need. The best way to stop new clutter from filling your home is to painstakingly add up the cost of the things you are purging.

Create a running list that includes the name of each item you are discarding and the estimated price you paid for it. Documenting your purchases is an unpleasant process, but it will convince you to stop buying stuff you don’t need.

For more details on the process of calculating your costs, check out this post.

Review Your Progress

Survey your progress. Relish in the way your room feels without all of the excess stuff within it. Look inside your drawers. Take a peek in your closet and glance along your half-empty shelves. 

Do you feel different? Do your surroundings feel more relaxed and peaceful? If they do, take note of this feeling, so you don’t forget about it.

Refer to this note before bringing more unnecessary stuff into your house.

Calculate the Time Saved

You can stay motivated to clean and declutter by paying attention to the amount of time it now takes you to vacuum or dust. Hopefully, you decluttered enough to make an impact on your cleaning routines moving forward. This time savings can be motivation to keep the clutter out of your home.

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself for a job well done. Put your feet up, read a book, turn on the television, or buy yourself a tasty, consumable treat. Relish the hard work you’ve completed and vow to reduce clutter, so you don’t have to spend so much time cleaning and decluttering next time.

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