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How To Declutter When You Don’t Feel Like It

Some days you’re just not feeling it. You’re still sick of not being able to find anything, you still really want to have your grandkids stay over, you still want to get the car in the garage and have friends over. But you look at the living room and it’s just too much. Too much stuff, it’ll take too long, no one will care, it’s not going to make any difference anyway. 

Ingredients For a Successful Pity Party

You will need:

  • A notebook and something to write with.
  • Two timers. You can use a kitchen timer and your phone or two kitchen timers. Set the first timer for 12 minutes and the second timer for 20 minutes. Don’t start them yet.
  • A piece of music. It can be absolutely anything you like as long as it’s upbeat and energizing. No ballads, nothing with any sad memories.

You want that song cued up and ready, so open up the link on YouTube or get the needle ready to hit the LP.  Add it to your playlist or save it to your phone. You want to be able to produce that music as soon as it’s time.

Hosting Your Pity Party

Grab timer #1 and start it going. 12 minutes, no more, no less.

Open the notebook and start writing. Write down every single thought that’s stopping you from decluttering:

  • I don’t know where to take things.
  • Nobody’s gonna want any of this stuff.
  • I want to keep everything.
  • I want to set fire to the whole thing.
  • It’s too boring.
  • It’s too hard.
  • I don’t want to do this!!

Just some ideas to get you started. Keep going until the timer rings. 

As soon as the timer rings, start the second timer, the one you preset for 20 minutes.

Now, press play. Let whatever piece of music you chose ring out while you make yourself pick one thing you can see that’s clutter. Use the sound of the music to propel you forward and pick something to work on. Something, anything, doesn’t matter as long as you keep moving. As soon as you hear the music, pick something up.

If you sit and listen to the music, you haven’t picked an energetic enough song. It has to be something that’ll literally get you on your feet dancing.  A piece so infectiously upbeat that it pulls you to your feet. If you’re stuck for ideas, try one of these on for size:

Once you’re on your feet, make a decision about that one thing. It doesn’t matter if that takes you twenty minutes or twenty seconds, you’re going to decide and then act.

While the music plays, keep going and when it stops, you can too if you want to. If you’re on a roll, keep going until the timer rings and then stop.

Now comes the  magic: every single time you start a decluttering session from now on, you’re going to play that same piece of music. Whether you’re excited to work or you’re hosting another pity party, each time, play the exact same music. Before you know it, like Pavlov’s dogs, your brain will be conditioned to start decluttering whenever you hear that music.

Choose your music carefully!


  1. This speaks to the dancer in me, haha! 5, 6, 7, 8, GO! This seems like a solid strategy that’s simple enough for even the most unmotivated declutterer. Well done!

  2. I love this idea of cuing the brain with music to set the mood for decluttering! I don’t have a challenge with decluttering and decision-making, but after reading your post, it made me want to try the music system just because it sounded so effective.


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