woman cleaning and dancing.

How to Get Motivated to Clean and Declutter: 12 Simple Steps to Refresh Your Space

Engaging in the process of cleaning and decluttering your entire house can often feel like a monumental task, especially when motivation is at its lowest. You might find yourself avoiding the task altogether, leading to more accumulation and, inevitably, a more daunting challenge.

However, taking control of your environment is not only about cleaning and organizing; it’s also about creating a space that enhances your well-being and productivity. To ignite that drive, it’s crucial to understand the psychological underpinnings of motivation and recognize that this is not an instinctive burst of energy, but rather a cultivated mindset that can be trained and improved over time.

With this understanding, setting achievable goals and developing practical strategies becomes not just a methodical approach to decluttering, but a transformative experience. Empowering yourself to start can be as simple as adopting small but effective habits that keep your space tidy, or as complex as designing a full-scale organization system that complements your lifestyle.

It is this blend of incremental actions and larger planning that can shift your environment from chaotic to orderly, turning the act of cleaning from a chore into a rewarding ritual. Overcoming procrastination and maintaining a clean environment ultimately come down to finding personal inspiration and recognizing the benefits of a decluttered space — benefits that echo in all corners of your daily life.

Key Takeaways

  • A clean and organized space promotes well-being and productivity.

  • Motivation for cleaning and decluttering can be cultivated through small habits and realistic goals.

  • Overcoming procrastination involves finding personal inspiration and establishing supportive routines.

Understanding Motivation and the Psychology Behind Cleanliness

When you embark on the task of cleaning and decluttering, understanding what drives you can be the key to success. Your motivation can be deeply personal and is often tied to psychological well-being and the desire for an improved lifestyle.

The Psychology of Cleaning

Motivation is highly mental…it’s a mindset. There are things that motivate you from inward and external sources:

  • Intrinsic Motivation: You’re more likely to engage in a decluttering journey if it’s internally rewarding. This could come from the satisfaction of creating a peaceful environment or having control over your surroundings.

  • Extrinsic Motivation: Sometimes, external factors motivate your cleaning efforts. These might include social expectations, like hosting guests, or financial incentives, such as preparing to sell your home.

Benefits of Decluttering

Your surroundings can significantly impact your mental well-being. A clean and organized space is linked to:

  • Stress Reduction: A clutter-free home has been scientifically linked to lower stress levels. By removing excess items, you pave the way for a calmer, more serene home environment.

  • Improved Focus: Decluttering can help reduce distractions, allowing for better concentration, productivity, and personal control in your daily tasks.

  • Enhanced Mood: Orderliness can contribute to a positive mood and overall happiness, as a tidy environment often leads to a more harmonious state of mind.

How to Get Motivated to Clean and Declutter

1. Set Realistic Goals

To succeed in decluttering, begin by setting attainable goals that guide your efforts and provide a sense of direction.

  • Identify Priority Areas: Start by determining which areas of your home need the most attention. Think about the spaces that would have the highest impact on your daily life if they were organized.

  • Zone by Zone: Break down your home into zones (such as the kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc.) and evaluate the level of clutter in each area.

  • Set Clear Outcomes: Decide what a successfully decluttered space looks like for you. This could be something like “clear countertops” or “clothes neatly organized in the closet”.

2. Make a Plan and Create a Cleaning and Decluttering Checklist

The best way to take on a big project, like cleaning and decluttering your entire home, is to create a solid plan to help you along the way. A to-do list or checklist can help you break the job into do-able steps, keep you organized along the way, and help you follow through to reach your goal.

As you’re making your plan, it’s a great time to decide things like:

  • Which areas of your home do you want to declutter?

  • Which areas of your home are your highest priority to declutter?

  • When will you work on decluttering?

  • What will you do with the stuff you’re getting rid of?

  • What specific tasks do you want to accomplish in each zone.

Decluttering Checklist:

  • Bathroom: soaps, hair products, medications, towels

  • Bedroom: unworn clothing in closet, dresser drawers

  • Kitchen: pantry, refrigerators, cabinets, pots, food

  • Living room: mail, magazines, coffee table

Cleaning Checklist:

  • Kitchen: counters, cabinets, appliances, sink, floor

  • Bathroom: sink/vanity, toilet, shower/tub, floor

  • Bedrooms: floors, bed, nightstands, dresser, closets, floor

  • Living room: tables, shelves, fireplace, windows, floor/carpet

  • Laundry room: wash/dry surfaces, clothes, floor

  • Garage/basement: shelving, storage bins, tools, floor

  • Outdoor areas: patio furniture, windows/doors, gardening tools, yard, grill

3.Overcome Procrastination

Procrastination during cleaning can stem from feeling overwhelmed by the task or succumbing to distractions. Employing effective strategies to stay focused and manage your time can foster a more productive cleaning routine.

  • Identify Distractions: To combat procrastination, begin by acknowledging your typical distractions. These may range from digital diversions, like social media and television, to less obvious ones such as clutter itself which discourages you from starting. Create a list of your common distractions and place it in a visible location. Use it as a reminder to stay focused.

  • Minimize Digital Distractions: Turn off notifications or use apps that limit your use during cleaning sessions.

  • Remove Environmental Distractions: Keep your cleaning space clear of non-essential items that might divert your attention.

  • Focus on Time Management Techniques: Implementing structured time management techniques can dramatically increase your cleaning productivity.

  • The Pomodoro Technique: Set a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted cleaning, followed by a 5-minute break. Repeat this cycle until the task is complete.

  • Task Batching: Group similar cleaning tasks together to streamline efforts and reduce the time spent switching between different types of tasks.

4. Find Inspiration Pictures

Pinterest is an awesome resource when you’re looking for inspiration or a good example. A great way to get motivated to declutter is to make a board on Pinterest of rooms that inspire you. A quick search for “minimalist living rooms/bedrooms/kitchens/etc.” will give you plenty of inspiration to choose from.

Pin rooms that you love. Then whenever you find yourself losing your motivation to declutter, look through your inspiration pictures. Let them reignite your enthusiasm to create your own clutter-free oasis in your home!

5. Plan a Reward for Yourself

Cleaning and decluttering your home can be challenging work. But keep your eyes on the prize – the benefits of a simpler, clutter-free, clean home are their own reward for all your efforts.

Still, having an extra motivator can help you power through to the finish line when cleaning and decluttering gets tough. Think of a special treat you’d really enjoy as a reward when you complete your decluttering project.

It could be a weekend getaway, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a massage, or something else you love. Choose a fun indulgence to keep you excited about reaching your goals.

Experience rewards or consumable treats make great clutter-free motivators after you’ve invested time purging excess stuff from your home. However, if you have your heart set on a particular item as your prize, go for it. Simplifying your belongings doesn’t mean you can never welcome new possessions. It just means you are more intentional and selective when you do.

6. Get a Decluttering Partner

Having someone to hold you accountable is an easy way to help you stay motivated to reach any goal, including cleaning and decluttering your messy home. A close friend or family member not only keeps you on track with your goals, but also provides inspiration and encouragement when your motivation lags.

Find a friend, either in real life or online, who is also working on keeping their home in order and team up to keep each other focused on making progress.

Together you can overcome obstacles and celebrate small wins along the way. Knowing someone else is counting on you can give you that extra push when you feel like giving up.

7. Schedule Cleaning and Decluttering Sessions:

One of the best ways to stay motivated while cleaning and decluttering is to put your cleaning times on the calendar. Add them to your phone’s calendar with reminders, write them in your planner, or post them on the fridge – whatever it takes to cement your cleaning appointments. Treat these sessions like any other important commitment.

When making your cleaning plan, decide what days and times work for you. Maybe you’ll tidy for 15 minutes daily or do deep cleans each Saturday morning. Or you could block off a weekend here and there for whole-house decluttering. Figure out a routine that fits with your life, put it on the schedule, and then honor that time consistently.

Having set cleaning sessions in your calendar provides structure and accountability. Knowing exactly when you’ll declutter prevents procrastination and makes it easier to motivate yourself when the time comes. Sticking to your predetermined tidy-up times and having less stuff will help build momentum and make cleaning easier.

8. Start Small

When your cleaning motivation starts to lag, don’t take on big, daunting decluttering projects. Tackling an easy, small task will let you see results fast. Then, as your energy and excitement builds from those small wins, you’ll be ready to take on the larger, more difficult areas needing your attention.

Don’t underestimate the power of mini-milestones. Small successes pave the way for bigger ones. Each completed task, no matter how minor, gets you one step closer to your overall goal.

Instead of overwhelming spaces like packed storage rooms or sentimental items, start small. Do a small area like a couple kitchen cabinets, a small closet, or the bathroom.

The location doesn’t matter, as long as you can declutter it fast for that quick hit of accomplishment. Immediate visible progress keeps you energized to do more.

Seeing a small space transform quickly with smaller tasks reminds you of the satisfaction decluttering brings. A little success goes a long way in pumping up your cleaning motivation for the next task.

9. Make It Fun

Adding a sense of play can transform boring cleaning and decluttering tasks into something you actually look forward to. With some creativity, you can add an element of fun to tidying up and have a good time.

Try timing yourself while tidying up to see how many items you can purge in 15 minutes. Or challenge family members to friendly competition to see who can fill donation boxes the fastest. Create an upbeat tidying playlists to listen to while you work or dance your way through chores while singing silly made-up songs or acting like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

10. Set Realistic Expectations

When planning your cleaning routine, be realistic about what’s possible. You didn’t get a messy house overnight, so it won’t become perfectly tidy instantly either. While you don’t need years, maintaining a clean house does take ongoing effort on a regular basis.

If motivation lags, remember small steps still count. Even just 15 minutes a day of cleaning and tidying can make a difference over weeks.

Don’t beat yourself up for unfinished projects – celebrate any progress as a win.

Comparison can be discouraging, so focus on your own timeline. Every small cleaning action contributes to an overall cleaner home. Some days housework happens, other days you recharge – both are important.

Rather than unattainable perfection, aim for sustainable habits that fit your lifestyle. Realistic expectations motivate long-term solutions instead of short-term fixes. Steady improvements add up to lasting change. Be patient and proud of your efforts – that’s the best way to stay motivated keeping your home tidy.

11. Track Your Progress

Cleaning and decluttering is an ongoing process, so it’s easy to overlook the strides you’ve made. Even major cleaning sprees may not feel hugely impactful.

Sometimes the transformation is imperceptible day-to-day. Taking photos as you clean provides perspective on your hard work. Before and after shots cement the change for motivation. Revisit early pictures when enthusiasm wanes. Notice clutter that used to dominate but has now vanished. Tangible proof reminds you of clutter conquered through steady efforts.

Try keeping a journal with your completed checklists or thoughts of what you did. Documentation can serve as proof that you’re making progress.

Or share your documented progress too for extra encouragement. Family and friends celebrating small victories keeps you energized for more.

Progress happens gradually through consistent care. Photos, journaling, or sharing capture the whole story to inspire you forward. Celebrate each tiny tidy-up – the results add up bigger than they seem.

12. Just Start Tidying

Getting started is often the biggest hurdle with any home care project. If motivation lags, diving into tidying – no matter how small – can reignite your drive.

When enthusiasm wanes, instead of overthinking or procrastinating, just take action. Find 10 items to donate or set a 10 minute timer for tidying. Once in motion, momentum usually follows.

Rather than perfect plans, focus on taking the first step. Simply begin decluttering to build habits. Folding a load of laundry or clearing one surface makes the next task easier to tackle.

Progress happens through consistent small efforts, not big bursts. Start wherever you are – decluttering five minutes daily matters more than waiting for hours free. Nurture routines through regular tiny tasks.

Don’t wait for motivation – let action inspire it. The most important thing is to just start tidying to keep your home and motivation in motion.

Maintaining a Clean Environment

Achieving a tidy home hinges on two fundamental practices: establishing daily cleaning habits and decluttering regularly. Incorporating these actions into your routine can make maintaining a clean environment feel less like a chore and more like a beneficial part of your daily life.

Daily Cleaning Habits

  • Make Your Bed: Begin your day by making your bed. This simple action sets the tone for productivity and tidiness.

  • Wipe Surfaces After Use: After using any surface, give it a quick wipe to avoid buildup and maintain cleanliness.

  • Tidy for 10 minutes every day: Just a little focused, no matter what, clean-up time will help to maintain a clean home.

  • Scheduled Cleanup: Allocate specific times for daily cleaning tasks, such as sweeping floors every evening or doing dishes after meals.

Declutter Regularly

  • Five-Minute Daily Declutter: Spend five minutes each day focusing on clearing out one area, like a drawer or shelf.

  • Monthly Declutter Sessions: Set aside time each month to review and sort through possessions, deciding what to keep, donate, or discard.

  • Sort by Category: Tackle decluttering by category—clothes, books, papers—not by room, preventing the reshuffling of clutter from one area to another.

Common Reasons People Lose Motivation to Clean and Declutter

Losing motivation to declutter can often derail our efforts to create a tidy and organized home. It’s valuable to examine the reasons behind this loss of motivation, as it can provide insight into the mental and emotional blocks that may be hindering our progress. There are many reasons: people lose motivation

  • Feeling overwhelmed: Decluttering and deep cleaning a home is a big project that can seem daunting. People may feel discouraged when facing a very messy or disorganized living space.

  • Lack of a system: Without an organized approach or decluttering system, it’s easy to lose steam. For example, not knowing where to start or what items to tackle first.

  • No sense of progress: If decluttering efforts don’t seem to be making a dent, it can sap motivation over time. Not being able to see progress makes the payoff unclear.

  • Competing priorities: Work, family obligations, and other commitments take priority over decluttering tasks, making it easy to push them off repeatedly.

  • Perfectionism: The desire to thoroughly clean and organize rather than doing small, manageable tasks leads to procrastination.

  • Sentimental attachment:  It’s hard for many people to get rid of items with emotional meaning or perceived value, even if they are clutter.

  • Lack of space: Without adequate storage options, clutter easily accumulates again after decluttering. This makes the work feel fruitless.

  • Health issues: Chronic pain, low energy, and other issues can make decluttering physically difficult. This understandably decreases motivation.

  • Feeling deprived: People may feel like decluttering requires sacrificing items they love, which hinders motivation.

Finding Inspiration and Support

To successfully declutter your home, tapping into various inspirational resources and seeking the support of others can be invaluable. These avenues can provide the motivation needed to initiate and sustain your decluttering efforts.

Inspirational Resources

  • Books and Blogs: Look into books and read blogs that focus on organizing and decluttering. Authors like Marie Kondo have crafted methodologies that can transform the way you view your possessions.

  • Quotes and Vision Boards: Use powerful decluttering and cleaning quotes and create a vision board that represents your ideal space. Visualizing the end goal can spark the drive to get started and continue.

Seeking Support from Others

  • Decluttering Groups: Join online forums or local groups where members share advice and progress, which can offer both inspiration and a sense of community.

  • Friends and Family: Involve your friends or family in the process. They can provide a helping hand or offer encouragement, making the task less daunting.

Keep It Simple

A complete lack of motivation to get your house in tip top shape is common.

The key to a clean house is to keep it simple. Once you’ve decluttered, cleaning becomes easier and takes less time. Look for simple ways to get it done and enjoy your home today.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find targeted advice and strategies to effectively tackle the common challenges associated with cleaning and decluttering.

What strategies can help overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed by clutter?

To combat the sense of feeling overwhelmed by clutter, start small with one area and set achievable goals. Using a timer for short decluttering sessions can provide a sense of structure and progress.

What are the psychological benefits of cleaning and decluttering our living spaces?

Cleaning and decluttering can reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus, and promote a sense of accomplishment. A tidy space can lead to improved mental clarity and a more positive mood.

Can you suggest a simple method to begin the decluttering process?

Initiate the decluttering process by choosing a single drawer or shelf. Remove everything, sort items into categories, and only put back what you need or love, discarding or donating the rest.

What should one consider when deciding whether to keep an item or let it go?

Consider the item’s utility, value, and the frequency of use. If an item hasn’t been used in over a year and holds no significant sentimental value, it may be time to part ways with it.

Could you provide a list of easy items to start with when decluttering a space?

Begin with items that require less emotional decision-making: expired products, duplicate kitchen tools, outdated electronics, and worn-out clothing. Starting with these can provide a quicker sense of achievement.

What are effective approaches to maintain motivation for cleaning and decluttering?

Set regular decluttering appointments on your calendar, listen to upbeat music to keep energy levels high, and reward yourself after completing tasks. Remember the vision you have for a clutter-free space to keep motivation up.

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