“Bri, it’s great that you’re sharing with others how you get organized, but what I need are tips on how to get motivated in the first place! When I look at the clutter around me, it just feels overwhelming.” – Lauren (my sister)
I truly enjoy home organizing. It feels like a logic puzzle with several right answers. I have this much space. I have this many things. I am allowed to get rid of things. OK, make it functional, make it fit and make it pretty (if possible).
I also enjoy it because it lowers my anxiety. It feels therapeutic. I realize this isn’t the case for everyone, though, so here are a few suggestions that I hope will help motivate you to get organized!
Remind yourself why you’re doing it. If you’re clearing out a mountain of boxes, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and annoyed with the mess. But, if you keep the ultimate goal in mind, e.g.: ‘I’m clearing out this room so that my mother-in-law will have a beautiful guest room to stay in this summer’ or ‘We’re cleaning out this scary dusty attic because we have to downsize to a smaller home next year,’ then it may become easier to move forward. Without a big goal in mind, it is so easy to just sit on the couch and let the piles of clutter grow.
Start Small or Go Big. I like to organize a small space first. Think: Glove box, one night stand drawer or one book shelf. Once I see the little space cleared out, it often motivates me to do one more little space. And then one more. Little by little, I’m able chip away at the disorganization.
Another nice way to start small: grab a trash bag, a cardboard box and a laundry basket. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
• Walk around the house with the trash bag for 5 minutes and throw things away. Set it by the front door.
• Walk around the house for 5 minutes and put items you’re willing to donate into the cardboard box. Set it by the front door.
• Walk around the house with a laundry basket for 5 minutes and collect items that belong in another room. Bring those items back to the appropriate location. E.g., scissors left in the living room go back into the office drawer.
• For the remaining time: take the trash out. Put the cardboard box in the trunk of your car. You can drop it off at the donation center next time you’re running errands.
Another option that I’ve heard works for people is to go big. They say the key for this is to set aside an appropriate amount of time. Let’s say you’re going to tackle the master walk-in closet or all of the kitchen cabinets. How long do you think that’ll take? An hour? 2 hours? OK, now triple or quadruple that amount of time and block it on your calendar. I haven’t tried this, but if it works for you, then hat’s off!
Enlist friends (real or virtual). Do you have any friends or family members who love to organize? My guess is they might be willing to keep you company or help, even if they don’t live in the same area code! When my sister needs help, we often have a video call and I keep her company while she organizes. If my parents need help in their home, I’ll stop by for an afternoon. And me? Well, when I want ‘company’ while I organize, I play organizing videos from YouTube in the background. When I found organizing channels on YouTube, I felt like I’d found my people! These folks are so inspirational and it was comforting to see I wasn’t the only one who finds organizing to be therapeutic. My favorite channels:
- Alejandra.tv/Home Organizing:a professional organizer based in DC. Fun to watch because she gets genuinely excited about organizing, is very detail oriented, and shares very creative tips. She has been featured on HGTV and several organizing magazines.
- Do It On a Dime: she describes herself as a woman on a mission to lead a beautiful, organized lifestyle on a frugal budget. This channels has great budget-friendly tips!
- Organized Like Jen: lengthy videos (~20-30 minutes) that focus more on how she likes to organize her home and less on ‘how-to’ organize a home. She has several videos about travel and closet organization.
- Organized Clutterbug: A relatively new organizing channel. This mom shares how she keeps her home running smoothly with little ones and pets at her feet.
- Vanchic Organization: also a relatively new organizing channel. A young lady with an old world glamorous sense of style. She provides good advice for turning garage-sale and Craigslist finds into expensive-looking organizational solutions.
I also listen to ebooks or podcasts. If you’re interested in an organizing podcast, I highly recommend The Joy of Organizing. I avoid Netflix or Hulu when I’m organizing or cleaning, though, because I tend to stop what I’m doing and end up on the couch with a snack.
If you’re looking to get motivated, I encourage you to try some of the aforementioned activities. One last tip: give yourself something nice to look forward to after you’re done organizing. I like to sit down with a hot cup of tea in my favorite mug.
Please let me know what worked for you or didn’t. Also, if you found something else that motivated you, please share it with the community. Happy organizing!