“I get overwhelmed with the size of a project and that makes me paralyzed to start.”
During isolation I’ve seen some posts and stories of people organizing and spring cleaning like crazy! But I know not everyone is excited to tidy and organize. Even if you know logically that living with less clutter would help your stress level, finding the motivation to tackle a huge project is extra hard right now. Our brains are overloaded!
Real friend. Real example
Click to watch, or scroll down to read the story
I was very surprised last month. Jeff was talking to a friend who told him he’d been cleaning out his bedroom. Now, I’ve known Mark for about twenty years and he is wonderful. But he is not an organized person! In fact, the ONLY time I’ve known him to organize an entire room was when I was at his house doing it with him.
The last thing I expected him to be doing during quarantine was organizing! The bedroom was a catch all with piles all around; a large undertaking. It was not a project for beginners.
So, I called him up to find out what motivated him. And how he kept going. I’m hoping his story might inspire you if you’re feeling lazy or just really unorganized.
I know where everything goes
Mark had told me before, and I’ve seen firsthand, that he doesn’t mind tidying the kitchen because everything has a place.
“With the kitchen, it comes back to– I know where everything goes.”
Compare that to the master bedroom where there was no rhyme or reason to the piles. Some things didn’t belong in the bedroom at all. But trying to find homes for EVERYTHING was a huge job.
“I think that’s why I’m not good at organizing. Because of all the questions: Where does that go? When will you use it? Where will you use it? I don’t want to answer those questions. So I procrastinate and say, I’ll get to it tomorrow or whenever. But I never do.”
So what changed?
About a month into quarantine he says he and Tina (his wife) were making a loose schedule for their days. They decided to set aside one hour a day to declutter while his kids did their home-school stuff.
Start small. Choose one surface
The bedroom felt like the easiest place to start. I asked him why.
“Two reasons. It was easiest to do because I didn’t want to do the garage or office. (haha!) And because I’m there all the time and would be inspired by seeing the results.
“I had about 3 or 4 areas [in the bedroom] that needed attention. Each took one day, working for 45 minutes to an hour.”
“We had an old baby-changing table that was the catch all. Honestly I didn’t even know everything that was on there. I was surprised to find things I’d been looking for.”
The changing table was blocking their sliding glass door. So they couldn’t open the door or even the curtains. Moving the table out of the bedroom made an incredible difference and did, in fact, inspire him to keep going.
Set a timer to motivate and keep you focused.
The timer trick works really well for any task you don’t love.
I used to think having a ticking egg-timer in the background would drive me and my clients crazy! But it really has the opposite effect. It’s soothing in a weird way, like a heartbeat. And the ticking noise keeps you focused on finishing.
I find timers especially helpful for shorter tasks, ten to twenty minutes, that I’m dreading.
Whenever you are decluttering an area which hasn’t been touched in years, you are going to find money. It happens every time! Mark found gift cards from his 50th birthday, which was 2 years ago, and money in a bag on top of his dresser.
“I didn’t even know [the bag] was there!”
I asked if he enjoyed the process or hated it.
“I enjoyed it because I can see results right away. It inspired me to keep moving around the room.”
Weeks later the bedroom feels as easy to maintain as the kitchen, because everything has its place.
“The bedroom is still how it was. Bathroom, too! Things are still put away where they go.
“Everytime I walk in there — even the kids walk in there and go, “You have so much more space in here!”
“It looks different too! I mean it’s easier to clean.”
(I can’t even imagine how happy Tina is! I’ll have to interview her next.)
Feel more comfortable having people into your home
“I’m happy with the progress. If someone were to come over I wouldn’t be as embarrassed as I was before for them to see the bedroom. Hopefully I can take that and slide it over to the office a little bit and then garage.”
Do it for your future self
When we come out of shelter in place it will be harder for most of us to find this kind of time that we have now. (Unless you have small children at home!) Now is a perfect time to set up a system for an unorganized room in your house.
Like Mark says,
“It’s easier if you have a system in place to just take 5 minutes a day or 20 minutes a week just to follow the pattern.”
Finding motivation right now is hard. I for one have been functioning at about 40 percent most days. And hearing Mark’s story made me smile so much I had to share it with you.
Please share your quarantine organizing adventures with me! We can’t go out and help anyone right now, so we can personally answer any questions, or give you encouragement!