Read The Books, Watch The Videos
“Decluttering is really difficult for me. I might be right up there as being the most unmotivated person. I want to do things but I just watch videos and listen to books about decluttering, but I have a hard time doing it. What’s your suggestion to get started and stay motivated?”
I saw this posted to social media one afternoon while I was doing a little research. I completely sympathize with this woman. Decluttering is difficult for lots of people. Even I want to save all the cute baby outfits my son used to wear because there are so many special memories associated with them. There are tons of books and videos out there to help you go through the process of sorting through your things and making decisions about what to keep. Still, continuing to declutter for weeks and months is not a fun experience. When the star quarterback of the Super Bowl winning team films his commercial to tell the world what he’s going to do next, he doesn’t say, “I’m going home to declutter!”
So why are some people really good at decluttering? What are they doing that you’re not?
They’ve got science on their side. Specifically, the brain science of building habits.
Let’s take a pretty common Sunday morning routine. You may wake up, shower, dress, and enjoy a cup of coffee while doing the daily crossword puzzle. This is a habit. Your brain does not need to consciously guide you through these steps. You just seem to roll out of bed, stumble into the shower, put on clothes, and before you know it, you’re in your favorite chair with a steamy, hot cup of coffee and the puzzle. The trigger is getting out of bed, which signals the brain that the action of showering and dressing is next. The reward is the coffee and the puzzle.
There was a fabulous juice bar at the gym. They offered the best piña colada protein shake I’ve ever tasted. This was the ultimate reward. I’d have one every time I went to the gym and never felt guilty because I had earned it. This was my habit and it kept me on track to achieve my fitness and health goals.
Then, spend 15 minutes in the action phase of decluttering. Pick one room, cabinet, shelf, or stack of papers. You don’t need to tackle everything. Afterall, you’ll be back again tomorrow. The important thing is to make good decisions and release the things you no longer need or want. At the end of the 15 minutes, take your recycling and trash to the containers outside your home. Place your donations in the car so you can drop them off in the next day or so.
Now, it’s time for the all-important reward. Here’s where you get to pick just about anything that will feel amazing for you. Maybe you get to watch a favorite show, enjoy a glass of champagne, or take a hot bath with aromatherapy candles. The choice is totally yours. Just don’t make your reward an online shopping session or time browsing in your favorite thrift store. You don’t want to choose a reward which brings clutter into your space.
Habits are the brain’s version of autopilot. They can make or break your chances of achieving your goals. Your brain doesn’t want to monitor every step needed to get a desired result. Help train your brain to use a good habit for maintaining an action which is beneficial to you, like decluttering. If your brain can recognize the trigger to remove the chaos caused by clutter and spur you into action, you’ll find decluttering a lot easier to accomplish on a regular basis.
Don’t rely on motivation to get your home organized. Motivation comes and goes. Habits are long lasting and get the job done.
More Solutions For You
Here’s more to help you get organized: