How to Find the Motivation to Organize


National Institutes of Health researcher Daniel Hommer discovered a phenomenon called delayed discounting — the very thing that causes us to procrastinate. His research shows that the more time a task takes to complete, the less we value it. We much prefer to accomplish small, quick tasks than large, time-consuming projects.

What does this mean for your motivation to organize? If you have a big project to complete, like organizing your garage or creating a new filing system, you’re much more likely to get started on the project if you break it into more manageable tasks.

Want to stay motivated? Use these small steps to accomplish big results.

1. Break Big Projects into Small Steps and Set Realistic Goals

The rooms pictured in magazines are staged and photographed by professionals. They’re not realistic expectations for what your home could or should look like. Those rooms aren’t lived in by real people. Your home, on the other hand, needs to be as functional as it is beautiful. That’s what organizing is all about: balancing function with style.

Daily clutter is a part of everyday life. Things get out of their “homes” and linger around the house . The trick is to create organizing systems to manage that clutter and prevent it from becoming a bigger problem. Be realistic about what you and your family can accomplish in a given amount of time.

2. Make Organizing A Daily Ritual

A lot of people think that organizing is something you do when a room is a complete disaster. But organizing can be a set of daily chores. Take 10-15 minutes every evening to walk around your home and pick up the clutter that’s accumulated throughout the day. Grab a bag or bin and just throw everything in — shoes left in the living room, craft supplies left on the dining room table, important paperwork that needs filing. Then return each item to its appropriate location.

If it’s too much for you to handle on your own, plan time every Saturday to place things where they belong.

You can also include your family and delegate. Make a list of daily chores for each member of your household. Laminated checklists make it easy for kids to know exactly what they need to do (without asking you) and mark it as completed. The hardest part is creating the habit. Once it’s a part of your daily routine, it’ll become second nature.

3. Think Twice Before Accumulating More Stuff

“Stuff” doesn’t just appear on its own. We bring it into our homes. We accumulate more stuff all the time. Some of it’s from shopping online or at a store. Other items are given to us as gifts. Every time you have the chance to bring something new home, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Just because something’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it or that it’s a good deal. If you’re cautious about how much stuff you accumulate, you’ll prevent excess clutter and save a lot of money in the long run!

4. Regularly Sell, Donate, Recycle Or Throw Away Clutter

Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be a kitchen appliance you never use or a collection of old jeans that no longer fit.

We all bring things into the house but we never plan to have a time to take it out and declutter. Designate one weekend every season to go through your home and eliminate everything you no longer want, need or use. If you haven’t worn an outfit or a pair of shoes in over a year, it’s probably time to let it go. If you bought a bunch of yarn because you wanted to take up knitting, but never got around to it, give it away.

Free yourself of all the items in your home that are just taking up space. If you’re not sure about something, put it in a box, store it in a safe place and re-evaluate it in 6 months.

5. Celebrate Small Successes

It doesn’t matter how small the accomplishment. Perhaps you’ve kept up with the dishes for a week, filed paperwork every Friday or cleaned out your kitchen pantry. Whatever the success, celebrate! Treat yourself to a delicious meal, cozy up with a good book and a glass of wine or take a Saturday and do nothing — that’s right, nothing! Small accomplishments will help motivate you to keep going. Your successes will begin to snowball and before you know it you’ll have accomplished your large organizing goals.


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