Inside: If you’re struggling to find the motivation to declutter, read this post to the learn 5 things you can do. Get motivated to get rid of clutter, even if you’re overwhelmed.
So. much. clutter.
You look around your kitchen. Dirty dishes pile up in the sink. Bills, random papers and magazines you’ll never read cover the table. The counters are full of stuff you use regularly that won’t fit in the jammed-packed cabinets, overflowing with single-use appliances and who knows what else.
The clutter continues into the living room, where a mountain of clean laundry sits, waiting to be folded.
You know you need to get rid of clutter, but even the thought overwhelms you.
I get it. As a reformed hoarder who slowly had to dig myself out of my own junk, I understand how draining it can be to find the motivation to declutter.
In this post, you’ll learn the 5 things to do to find motivation to declutter when you’re stressed out.
How to Find Motivation to Declutter When You’re Stressed Out
#1: Write a Decluttering Checklist
If you struggle with finding motivation to declutter, the best thing you can do is break large projects into the small, manageable tasks.
Let’s say you want to declutter the kitchen. This is a massive project.
Most decluttering advice tells you to take everything out, assess what you have, then put anything you want to keep back.
This advice is garbage.
Why? Because those of us who have cluttered homes don’t have the free space to take everything out.
In other words, the advice to take everything out is only valuable for people who need to declutter a few things here and there, not do a total overhaul.
So don’t feel bad if you’ve followed that advice and it didn’t work for you. It’s not your fault. It’s advice written by people who love to organize and don’t understand the overwhelming mental weight of clutter.
Instead, do this:
Pick an area you’d like to find the motivation to declutter. Grab a sheet of scrap paper and write down everything you want to do to declutter that area.
Then, pick one task on the list and break it down. Keep breaking it down until each small task takes less than 15 minutes to complete.
It’s much easier to find motivation to declutter if your goal is “go through spatulas” rather than “declutter kitchen”. See how that small, manageable task feels much less overwhelming?
Learn more: Want detailed info on how to create a decluttering checklist? Click here.
#2: Find a Quick Win
When you’re first looking to declutter you home, it’s important to focus on the tasks that take the least amount of time but make a noticeable difference.
Break down and recycle the Amazon boxes in the entry way? Yes.
Throw out candy wrappers covering the coffee table? Yes.
Go through and declutter your garage that’s jam-packed with your mom’s things after she passed? Nooooo.
The goal of a quick win is to quickly get the ball rolling and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Imagine a boulder sitting at the top of a mountain. It takes an extreme amount of force to get the boulder to budge an inch. But as it starts rolling, it will gain momentum.
You are that boulder. At this point in your decluttering journey, it’s hard for you to find motivation to declutter.
But that starts to change when you do a quick win project. You break down those boxes blocking up the entry way. It didn’t take that long and now you feel pretty good about yourself.
As you should. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Breaking down the boxes motivates you to find a slightly bigger project…and then a slightly bigger project. Before you know it, your sock drawer can close and your closet only has clothes that you actually like.
It all starts with a quick win.
#3: Take Small, Consistent Steps
One of my favorite quotes is by the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Sometimes finding the motivation to declutter can feel like embarking on a journey of a thousand miles. Which is dang overwhelming.
Instead, focus on taking small, consistent steps. You will see more progress if you declutter 15 minutes every day for a year…than if you declutter an hour every day, but quit after a month.
Pick whatever time is the amount that feels comfortable with you, whether it’s 15, 10 or 5 minutes.
Set a timer and work for that amount of time most days with the goal to do it every day.
And if you miss a day? Pick yourself up and take one small step.
If you miss a week, a month or a year? Pick yourself up and take one small step.
Decluttering is a journey and you don’t have to do it perfectly to see massive progress. You just have to take small, consistent steps, one foot in front of the other.
#4: Give yourself grace
When I was living in the thick of my chaos and clutter, our house was too messy to have people over and we were always looking for things.
But worse than the state of my home was how I felt. I thought my home was messy because I was lazy. I thought people would think I didn’t care.
I would look at my friends with their full time jobs, dinners made from scratch and crafts made for grandparents’ birthdays, and I’d wonder what was wrong with me.
You know what was wrong with me? Absolutely nothing.
There’s nothing wrong with you. Having a messy house doesn’t mean you’re lazy or that you don’t care.
The state of your home has no correlation to the value you have as a human being. You are awesome, you are worthy and you don’t need a clean home to prove it.
Give yourself some grace. Whether your home became cluttered after having kids, recovery from an injury or grieving the loss of someone close…or whether you have always been messy.
Give yourself grace.
You are worthy because you are worthy. You don’t need to earn your worth by cleaning up your house.
When you come from a place of love, you’ll find it much easier to find motivation to declutter.
#5: Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
It’s so easy to get sucked into the world of social media and think that everyone lives in a state of perfection. It’s just not true.
Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist. So when you set your goals on perfection, you’ll miss the mark every single time.
Instead, focus on progress. Every time you accomplish a quick win, celebrate and give yourself a pat on the back.
At first, you may find it difficult to focus on progress. You might notice the inner monologue that berates you for not getting more things done.
“Why did you buy this junk? What a waste of money…”
“You don’t feel like decluttering today? What a wimp. You always quit…”
“You haven’t decluttered the last three days. Why start now?”
Here’s what you can do to focus on progress instead of perfection:
- Take before and after pictures.
- Keep a log of the small tasks you’ve completed.
- Set a reward for completely a big decluttering project.
I’m not saying you have to do all of these things. Pick one and test it out to see if it works for you.
The important thing is not how you measure your progress. The important thing is to train your brain to focus on the progress you’re making.
When you focus on progress, you feel a sense of accomplishment and will find it much easier to find motivation to declutter.
You can do this!