By Danielle Braff.
Lose anything lately? Perhaps it’s because your home is covered in clutter and you can’t motivate yourself to organize it.
The average person spends 10 minutes a day looking for their stuff, according to Tile, an app that helps people find their misplaced items. That’s over an hour a week that you spend searching your house for your keys, wallet, and more.
If you’re tired of the frustration and are ready to finally make a change, follow these tips from organizational pros on how they motivate themselves to stop watching puppy videos and start organizing.
1. MAKE A TO-DO LIST.
Use a pen and notepad—or the notepad application on your computer—to keep track of tasks that might slip your mind, suggests Kelly Brask, a professional organizer with Less Is More. No task is too small to make it to the list; Brask’s currently includes: “Copy Girl Scout schedule from Mail to family calendar” and “Find out how late Salvation Army is open for donation drop off.”
2. DO ONE THING EACH DAY.
Tackling an entire organizational list may be intimidating, but simply doing one thing, such as cleaning out a desk, is reasonable. Then, set aside the time to get it done, says Monica Friel, owner of Chaos to Order in Chicago.
3. SET A TIMER.
Carve out a time in your calendar to organize for just 30 minutes. “You may find it easier than you thought,” Friel says, adding that it’s better to start than to never begin, as at least you’re making a dent in the project. And if you find yourself on a roll and decide to tackle the next few items on your list, all the better.
4. ASK FOR MORAL SUPPORT.
“Having someone that will check in and cheer you along in the process is a great motivator,” Friel says. For a group of sympathetic supporters, join a Clutterers Anonymous group. They aim to help each other stop cluttering, one day at a time.
5. TURN OFF DISTRACTIONS.
These may include the television, the radio, computer, or phone. And close the door of the room you’re tackling so you don’t wander away, says Jane Carroo, a certified professional organizer with Organizing Coach Company. Be alone with your project so that you can give it the attention it needs.
6. SET AN INTENTION.
This is your goal, and could be getting your desk organized, figuring out your calendar or your eating plan, writing a book, or even starting a business, Carroo says. “Your intention can be written down on paper or in your computer,” she says. “This is what will motivate you to get it done.”
7. CREATE STEPS.
If you are organizing your desk, what do you need to do to get it done? Do you need to sort the papers into categories? Do you need to make a file for each category, to create systems that can help you keep items organized more easily? Carroo recommends breaking your intention down into actionable steps in order to make the task feel less daunting.
8. DON’T SHOP.
Many people think they’ll magically become organized if they bring home new baskets, bins, or hooks. “While those items help sometimes, in some places, that’s not the best place to start,” says Amy Trager, a certified professional organizer in the Chicago area. She suggests starting by de-cluttering before you rush to the Container Store. “It will save you time and money in the end if you don’t have to return items or purchase containers that never get used,” she says.
9. MAKE A DATE (WITH YOUR PROJECT).
Schedule the time to organize, and put that time in the calendar, Trager says. “Don’t just decide that it’s a good time and assume you’ll remember,” she says. Choose that date and time after considering when you not only have a block of time open, but also when you’ll have the energy and mindset to tackle your project. This could be at 6 a.m. before work or at 3 p.m. when the kids are doing homework. “Knowing how you feel at different times of the day or days of the week will allow you to pick times that will maximize your progress,” Trager says.
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer in Chicago. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Women’s Health, Self and Marie Claire, among others. She lives with her husband, their two daughters, two cats and a dog. Check out her other work at Daniellebraff.com.