moving boxes neatly stacked in the garage

How to Get Motivated to Declutter

Everyone knows they should declutter, but it can be so hard to find the motivation to get started. Take heart, I’ve boiled it down to two highly effective strategies.

Strategy #1: Scare Yourself

The crucial piece of this strategy is to wait as long as you possibly can before starting to do anything. Plan on waiting until you’re at least in your seventies. Put off any surgery which will make the process less physically demanding. That knee replacement can wait until you’re done. Try to ensure that any helpful family members have long since established themselves elsewhere. Overseas is ideal, but on the other side of the country works too.

Set a firm non-negotiable legally binding deadline within the next month. If you’re downsizing, contracting for the buyers to take possession of your house is always a good one. If you rent, plan on notifying your landlord that you won’t be renewing your lease but don’t start preparing to move until it’s too late to change your mind.

Wait another month to six weeks. Put people off, paying if necessary. You want that adrenaline to be top quality fuel. For added stress, keep buying things you don’t really need while you wait.

At the point when the bailiffs are headed for your house, haul out every last box from the attic, the basement and under the bed and commence a frenzy of sorting. The main goal is to move so fast that you don’t have time to think about what you’re doing. Reflexively toss items into the trash, boxes labeled ‘miscellaneous’ or the donate bin without pausing.

Pro’s to this method:

No personal regrets for imperfect decisions. You’ll be able to blame lack of time for why you threw out things you valued and kept things that don’t seem to have any logical reason to have been kept.

Long-term effectiveness:

Since you’ve decluttered under the influence of high octane adrenaline, your brain won’t have developed any decluttering skills so you’ll begin to reacquire clutter as soon as the crisis is over.

To note:

Adrenaline is a powerful drug and the withdrawal will be painful, so make sure you have another drama lined up to take its place. Keep up those stress levels. You know you work best under pressure!

Strategy #2: Don’t Scare Yourself

Start now. But start small. Maybe even with Send It Away Saturday, the habit that has you letting go of one thing per week. Just one and then we’re done.

If you know that a move is in your future within the next few years, add in 20 minutes of decluttering a week. Saturday perhaps. For 20 minutes, you pick an area and begin to clear it. Set a timer and make sure you stop when it rings.

If you’re up against a firm deadline, 20 minutes decluttering a day will go a long way towards breaking the process down. Keep your goals in mind and evaluate everything with an eye to whether you can fit it in a space a quarter of the size you currently have.

As you declutter, think about what could be packed away now. That’ll give you time to label your boxes clearly  and put like with like. When the move is over, unpacking will be so much easier.

Pro’s to this method:

The feeling of control you get from starting the process at this pace is phenomenal. If things speed up a little towards the end, you won’t be in such a bind because the wheels are in motion. Moving will still be hard but it won’t be traumatic.

Long-term effectiveness:

You’re less likely to re-accumulate things in your new space because you’ve given your brain the opportunity to experience the process of decluttering without the stress of an imminent  deadline.

To note: 

There are two main paths to getting yourself going when it comes to decluttering. Which would you prefer?

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