THE POWER OF MOTIVATION
By Amy Rehkemper, CPO
Simplify Organizing, LLC
“I need help!” said an exasperated working mother of four, “This week, I’ve tripped over a box in my storage room, forgot an appointment, and lost my d%#* keys!” After years of being chronically late and disorganized, this frustrating week was the last straw. Fed up, she decided to call a professional to get her home and life organized.
Frustration can be a great motivator. Sometimes it takes literally falling over the clutter to realize that it’s time to clean-up life a bit. I like to think of these experiences as “failing forward.” I’ve done it countless times. Mess up enough and that foul-up becomes the very catalyst you needed to take action and figure out a better way.
Motivation is a powerful tool to use for anything requiring action, but my purpose in this month's blog is to help you find the motivation to GET ORGANIZED!
Do you cringe at the thought of tackling that cluttered spare bedroom?
Do you hate the mundane process of uploading photos from your phone every month?
How about that pile of dirty clothes screaming to be washed?
Do you dread the unopened mail begging to be purged, paid or filed?
(This list could go on and on…right?!)
You understand the importance of these household chores, but you still avoid them, procrastinate, get a root canal-- anything to delay addressing the clutter.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, even paralyzed by disorganization, then it's time to tap into the power of motivation! Here are five techniques the team at SIMPLIFY ORGANIZING, LLC has found successful:
LITTLE BY LITTLE- If you walk into a cluttered room and feel hopeless, you’re not alone. The room didn’t become cluttered overnight and it won’t get cleaned up that quickly either. Break up large decluttering and organizing goals into easy bite-sized tasks. Create a task so small that motivation is not even required!
Instead of saying, “I’m going to organize my entire basement storage room this morning,” focus on only the holiday decorations that are stored in that room and break that category down even further by starting with recycling torn or crinkled gift bags and wrapping paper you won’t use. Then, move on to purging seasonal wreaths that no longer look fresh. Once you’ve sorted, purged, and containerized the decorations category, then move on to the camping equipment. Don’t look at it as needing to organize the space as a whole (wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling in one fell swoop). Break it up and tackle it little by little.
The Japanese philosophy kaizen means “continuous improvement” and encourages taking the smallest steps possible. Steps are to be made so small that they result in zero intimidation, zero stress, like “open the drawer,” or “recycle one newspaper.” Few would object to completing such miniscule actions. Through this perspective, one overwhelming goal is actually 50 super easy tasks! As long as you are taking steps to continuously improve your home – no matter how small a change might be – it is progress… and progress fuels motivation.
LET’S GET VISUAL, VISUAL- Beautiful spaces can motivate you to get and stay organized. Sure, I believe function should precede form, but good room design, attractive furniture, or even cute matching containers can be just the motivator you need to keep a space looking good. Nobody is driven to keep clutter off a stained and tattered rug. However, if you switch it with a gorgeous rug, I bet you'll be more inclined to keep it free of mess.
Flip through home magazines, or search for "organized spaces" on Pinterest, and you are sure to find a ton of rooms that call out to you. When you're stuck on what to do with an area of your home, this is a great way to find motivation and inspiration. Here are some of our favorite online sources to check out: IHeart Organizing, IKEA, HOUZZ, and blog.homedepot.com.
TURN NEGATIVITY ON ITS HEAD- Does your mother-in-law come by dropping "helpful" comments about the benefits of a tidy home? Does your spouse complain that the house is an embarrassing mess? Does your neighbor hint that your porch is in need of a clean-up?
Instead of feeling defeated and that you're somehow not up to snuff... take those negative comments and turn them into positive action. Show the world and yourself what you're capable of and let those words be the reality check needed to motivate you. So, instead of getting bent out of shape, take the hint, and improve your situation. If you cannot make positive changes on your own, bring in a friend, or a professional organizer to get the job done.
“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”
THE TEABAG THEORY-
People are like teabags… you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water!
Some people will not act until they are about to get in trouble. Time ticking toward trouble is an excellent motivator. Remember in college when you were given two weeks to write a paper, yet you weren't motivated to start until two days before it was due? Some of you may even be in the two-hours-before-it’s-due camp!
One of my clients (who I'll call Jane) is a collector and enjoys a great abundance of possessions. For years Jane refused to downsize her belongings. She had so many collections that she couldn't even locate most of them, but when she learned that she was facing eviction, suddenly she found the motivation to reduce the excess.
I’m not suggesting that you set yourself up to be evicted, but I encourage you to think of a way to purposely put yourself in hot water! My favorite of these "teabag tricks" is to schedule a regular party at your home (maybe it's a monthly book club, or a dinner date with neighbors). You'll find that it forces you to make the place welcoming and organized. I admit that hosting my Company’s Team Meetings at my home every month has been a great source of motivation for me to stay on top of household clutter! (Yes, Professional Organizers have bouts of clutter build-up too.)
Avoiding embarrassment is a great motivator. Remember that spare bedroom that's bursting at the seams? Just invite an out-of-town friend to stay with you for a weekend. You'll surprise yourself with the sudden ability to create a guest room fit for Martha Stewart!
DO IT NOW- The voice in your head needs to hush-up! The one that’s saying: "I'll get to that when I have more time... more money... more space... more information." It's also saying: "I'll do that when everything is better... easier... happier." Frankly, it might even be saying "Well, I can't start without finding motivation!" HAH!
Don't listen. That voice is self-defeating. Don't wait for the perfect scenario. It rarely comes. Sometimes the hardest part is to start! So start wherever you are and with whatever you have. Just start. Do as much as you can with what resources you have. The positive motion from just getting started will open the floodgates to possibility.
Which of those five techniques could work for you? When and how will you employ them? As this year comes to a close, it's important to reflect upon and appreciate the successes you've made - even the small ones. December is a time when we begin to look ahead to a new year, seek a fresh start, and an opportunity to better ourselves. I encourage you to start implementing a few of these powerful motivation techniques, and no procrastinating! Don't wait for January to take positive action. Find your motivation and resolve to get organized…TODAY!
About Simplify Organizing, LLC
Since 1999, Simplify Organizing, LLC has been organizing everything under the residential roof from attics to basements and all rooms in between. That includes time, paper, photos, and even your next move! Owner Amy Rehkemper was one of the first Certified Professional Organizers in the U.S. and has been featured on HGTV. The company is based in Towson, Maryland and has been twice-voted Best of Baltimore. To learn more, please visit www.simplifyorganizing.com.
Amy Rehkemper, CPO®
Simplify Organizing, LLC
P.O. Box 42523, Baltimore, MD 21284