It’s no secret, I LOVE to organize. I started my journey towards a more organized life almost 8 years ago. I think in many ways I’ve been on this journey for longer, but I intentionally started looking at becoming more organized in 2006. One of the areas I still struggle with, despite my love of organizing, is finding and keeping the motivation to organize. My friend Gabi at Restful Living wrote a great post called Top 10 Tips to Motivate Yourself to Start Organizing, it is full of great advice and it made me think of all the things I do to help find and keep my motivation to see an organizing project through to the end. I thought it would be fun to put together a list of my own top 10 ways for finding my motivation to organize.
Finding Your Motivation to Organize!
1. Organizers, Take Your Mark
It is so easy to get overwhelmed when organizing. Sometimes, just looking at everything you need to do can have you putting on those blinders and turning your attention to another task that has suddenly gotten bumped up your priority list. This happens to me all the time. Instead of turning away, take a good look at what you want or need to organize, and pick a starting point and write it down. Put it on your to do list, put in your calendar, wherever you will be able to see it when you have the time to tackle that project. When the time comes to start, you don’t have to think about, you just step up to your mark and go!
2. Make a Date
Knowing where to start is half the battle to finding the motivation to organize. The next part is actually starting. Take a look at your calendar and see if you have some time to fit in some organizing. Pick a day when you don’t have much going on and choose how long you want to spend working on your organizing project. I recommend choosing a time early in the day, and I recommend this for two reasons.
- You can get it done and over with and spend the rest of the day on other stuff without that nagging little voice whispering in your ear about organizing.
- Organizing projects have been known to gain momentum as you work. You drag your feet getting started, but soon you find your stride and next thing you know those 30 mins you were dreading have somehow ended up being a whole hour or more. When you’re struggling to find the motivation to get organized and you hit a groove like this, the best thing you can do is run with it. When you stop, you will feel amazing about what you accomplished.
3. Be Your Own Muse
I think one of the reasons many of us have trouble finding the motivation to tackle organizing projects, is because we tend to approach organizing as a chore and forget that there’s a lot of creative thinking that goes into finding the right organizing system for each project. When your motivation cup is low, start looking for inspiration. Visit some organizing and home decorating blogs, start a new pinboard on Pinterest for your current project, and browse through the wonderful photos and pin any that make you say “Yes, this is what I want” Make use of the description section to note what it was about that photo that caught your eye. Browse through magazines, head to the library and look through some books, or head out and go window shopping at places like Target, Ikea, The Container Store, or Michael’s. Check out what organizing products they have and see if that gets the creative juices rolling. Organizing isn’t just about the act of making things orderly. It is creative problem solving at its finest. Embrace the creative part and use it to help fuel your motivation to tackle that project.
4. Look at the Big Picture
I mean this literally. Grab your camera or smart phone and take pictures of what you need to organize. Load it onto your computer and take a look. Pictures have this wonderful ability to show us things we might miss while we’re standing in the space. Be objective when looking at the photo and jot down some notes on what you see. Does anything jump out at you? What do you like about the picture? What don’t you like? This trick can be super helpful when you’re working on a large project. When you start to lose that motivation to keep going, pull up the photo and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. And just think about how AMAZING that after photo is going to be!
5. Organizing is More Fun with a Group
Now you can take this tip literally and call up a bunch of friends or declare it ‘Family Organizing the (insert space here) Day’ or you can check out organizing groups and communities on Facebook, Google+ and forums or message boards. A group can be a great place to find motivation and encouragement, and even suggestions for how to go about. A good group will help you connect with others who are all working towards a common goal, (in this case, organizing something in their lives) and that can be a tremendous help when you start to feel a lack of motivation. My favourite group is my friend Hilda’s 365 Items group. This is a great group of people who are all working on slowly decluttering their homes. If you’re looking for encouragement, suggestions, ideas, or just a chance to connect with others who get the situation you’re in then this is the group for you. Decluttering is the first step to any successful organizing project, and it is often the hardest step to take. With a goal of 1 item a day, that step becomes a little easier and you’ll be surprised at how quickly one item can snowball into 10, 20, even 100. If you decide to take this step, here are a few suggestions for finding the right group.
- Look for groups that you need approval to join. Often times that shows that the group manager cares about the quality of the group as a whole.
- Scroll through the previous posts. What you want is a group that is engaging with one another, you’re looking for people to help encourage you, not a group that has turned into a link dump.
- Are there spammy messages? If so, how many? A good group/community manager will moderate often.
- Are people comfortable sharing before photos? This is a big cue for me to the kind of group it is. If people are sharing before photos of their spaces on a regular basis that signals to me that this is a group that is encouraging and that members treat each other with respect and kindness.
- When was the most recent post shared? Take a look at the top ten posts and check the date of the most recent comments. If they’re 6 months old, then the group may not be as active as you want.
6. Get Your Groove On
Build a play list of your favourite get up and move songs, or maybe you would prefer a play list with more soothing music to help keep the organizing grunt work blues away. Whatever your preference, make sure it is music that will inspire you to get going on this project. I use an App on my phone called Songza and choose a random play list of upbeat music. I find this really helpful when I get to the stage that comes after sorting. You know that point where things looks so much worse than they did before you started? That’s when I crank the tunes and just get to work.
7. Invite House Guests
Nothing motivates me more than knowing we have company coming. If the area you need to organize is one of the rooms company sees and spends time in, then chances are you’ll find the motivation to get the project started at the very least if you know company is coming soon. This method works best if it’s not a large project, or if you give yourself plenty of time to tackle that larger project. Don’t invite company to come tomorrow if you have a whole room that needs to be sorted and organized.
8. Put Yourself in Time Out
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the project at hand, or if it’s become a point of frustration or stress for you, forget about it for a while. Give yourself permission to not even think about it for a day or two. Nothing kills motivation faster than stress and frustration. Just like we tell our children to take a break from something if it’s frustrating them, we too need to follow that advice. You’ll be surprised at how rejuvenating it can be to walk away and forget about it for a bit. You’ll come back to it feeling a little more calm and in control.
9. Find Your Organizing Guru
Everyone needs one! Whether it someone in a group like I mentioned above, or someone you know in real life, find someone who is good at organizing and take some time to chat with them. For me, my organizing guru is my Mom. She’s the first person I think of when I’m stuck in a rut, and sometimes all it takes is asking myself “what would Mom do?” to get me going. When I organize a problem area or a space I snap a photo on my phone and send it to her, which is rather reminiscent of bringing home pictures from school that she would put up on the fridge. If your organizing guru is someone you know in real life, invite them over and ask for some ideas or suggestions. Or, next time you’re visiting them ask them how they organized certain thing in their home. Better yet, if it’s someone you know well and spend a lot of time with, watch how the do things. I once told my Dad that I didn’t know how my Mom managed to make efficiency an art form. She walks into a room to get something and it seems like she’s only there for a moment, and when she leaves something will have been organized… in a matter of minutes. My Dad’s response was “Next time watch what she does and how she does it” and I did, and still do and I’m still amazed. It’s all about routine, and I’m pretty sure it’s how we think or see things in our heads. My Mom is the only person I know who kept her house organized throughout a whole house reno, and I’m absolutely convinced it’s because she can look at a space and the things in that space and just know how to make it all work.
Find that person you can turn to, who won’t judge you and won’t mind offering up some helpful tips or suggestions, or even who will just encourage you and remind you that this is something you can do! Everyone can get organized, it’s just a matter of finding the way that works best for you and your family.
10. Everest Cannot be Climbed in a Day
Organizing takes time. Some projects will be much quicker than others, some don’t require as much grunt work, but as with all good things – it takes time! According to Mount Everest History and Facts the fastest ascent recorded is 16 hours 45 minutes from base camp. From BASE CAMP. (It takes about 10 days to reach the base camp) Think of base camp as the point you reach once you’ve done the decluttering, the cleaning, removed the donate/giveaway items and trash from the space and gathered any supplies you need to complete the project such as baskets, boxes and labels. The ascent is just putting things away and pulling everything together. When you feel your motivation slipping, remind yourself that it’s going to take time and that it will be worth it in the end. Pull up that before picture (tip #4) and take a look at it to remind yourself of where you started from. Or pull up that pinboard or flip through that magazine (tip #3) and find some inspiration to keep you going. And just like when a climber reaches that peak, when the room/space/project is finished you’re going to feel like you’ve conquered the world, remind yourself of that too. Or maybe that’s just me. (I’ve been known to be a little weird! )
When it comes to organizing our homes, our time, our budgets or anything really, it is so easy to fall straight into feeling overwhelmed. Finding ways to get and stay motivated is almost more important than the organizing itself. Without it, the projects will never get done. The above tips are just some of the ways I help keep myself going.
I hope that some of these tips inspire you to find your own motivation mojo to keep working towards that organizing goal.
What motivates you?