It may seem like a silly question to ask, when you can’t find your phone, and the teapot has disappeared under the recycling. But asking yourself why you want to organise before you start, is key to making sure you have an approach which will make the decluttering you do in your home, last.
Why organise – to avoid mess?
If your answer is, ‘…because I’m fed up with looking at this mess’, then you’ll be tempted to clear quickly and to produce an instant visual transformation, with very little thought to the long term. You’ll have a clear out, which will get what you desire for a few days, but after that, the mess is likely to reappear just as quickly. This can lead to the sinking feeling that you just can’t make decluttering work, or that constant tidying is the only way it will last. That’s because avoiding a mess is not really the right motive to organise.
Why organise – to avoid shame?
If the answer you give is ‘… because I’m so ashamed of my mess’, then your motivation to improve your self or your self image, will weigh the whole process of decluttering down with self reproach before you even start. Who wants to spend the whole day with reproachful thoughts echoing around their heads as they organise the chaos? And it’s likely that this heavy emotional agenda will stop you asking the useful matter of fact questions which you need to ask as you clear, in order to make it easier for you to stay tidy.
To organise well, think in positive terms
Both these answers, while laudable, make the mistake of focussing on the mess itself. Your clutter is a negative thing and any thought you have about it directly is likely to be defined in negative terms rather than positive ones i.e. all you can do is think about what you want to get rid of, rather than what you want as a positive outcome. But you’re more likely to achieve what you want when you focus on a positive outcome.
Why organise – to be a tidy person?
If the answer is ‘… because I want to be a tidy person/live in a tidy house’ you are certainly closer to a more empowering attitude. But, if this is your motivation, is your wish to organise going to outweigh all those other very human and very powerful temptations you have to put other priorities first, all day, everyday? Is being tidy going to matter when you’re tired, or have a deadline, or when you are doing a task you don’t even want to start? I don’t think so. The wish to be tidy or well organised has be more integrated into your life than being a stand alone goal, because compared with all the other desires you have, to be loved, to rest, to enjoy yourself, to socialise, the need to organise comes very low down on your list, and quite rightly so.
Why organise? You’ll do it when you realise how empowering being organised is
So how can you harness that fact and make it work for you, rather than against you? The problem with all the approaches I’ve given so far is that they make decluttering and organising an ‘icing on the cake’ sort of issue. The key to changing your habits for good is to see that it’s far more fundamental than that. You know when you have an awful deadline looming? Or a task that you don’t even want to start? Or when you want to socialise and relax in your own home? The key to being motivated to organise well is to understand that an organised home is going to make all of these things easier. In other words, the reason to organise, is not so that you get to ‘tidy’ for its own sake, but so that you are empowered to do the things you want to do, easily. To make your home work well for you - I can’t think of a bigger motivating factor than that!
If you want to understand more about your own motivations to organise try taking my clutter personality quiz which is coming soon! You never know what you’ll find out about yourself!