Decluttering – 5 ways to get motivated and get started

Want to declutter but haven’t yet? You’re not alone.

Staring at the piles of stuff in your home week after week, wondering what to do with it all and where to even start? If you have thought about doing a massive chuck of your stuff, but are struggling to find the will-power, you’re not alone. Over the years of working in client’s homes, the main reason they hire a professional organiser is to get them started. It’s not easy pushing off from a standing start, so here are my favourite 5 motivation hacks which I use to kickstart pretty much any process! I personally use all five of these hacks – all at different times and often combined together. Try them all out and see what works for you!


1. The 5-minute snowball

Some people save the best tips to last, but I like to place them front and centre! This is my FAVOURITE go-to motivation hack.

Here’s how it works. Start the timer (or just check your phone) and begin decluttering by committing to doing it just for 5 minutes. You don’t have to actually set a timer, a quick glance at your phone or the wall clock will suffice,  but you do want to make the commitment to doing the task for 5 minutes. What tends to happen is once you start, you don’t stop! The small steps you take gradually can get you more involved in the task, so you are whizzing through your stuff and actually decluttering your home! 

I use the 5-minute snowball for pretty much everything these days. For some reason, my brain gets this hack and it just works. I go from dragging my feet and complaining, to agreeing to do the task for five minutes, to completing the task!  Hours can pass as you get stuck into decluttering your home and all it took was a promise of 5 minutes.

So if you are stuck, just promise yourself you will do it for 5 minutes. You may find that once you start getting to work, the snowball effect starts and your motivation increases as you go. 

Do this: commit to decluttering for 5 minutes. Once you start you won’t stop!


2. Parent yoself #adulting

Remember as a kid, your parents would tell you to clean your room or tell you when it’s lights out for sleep? Although being an adult is, in my opinion, much more fun than being a kid, you do need to be the adult creating the boundaries. In the words of the amazing motivational speaker, Mel Robbins (LOVE her), no one is coming to tell you what to do. No one is coming and knocking on your door with a set of instructions and a deadline to get the job done.

So if you are putting off decluttering because you are secretly hoping someone will tell you or specifically ask you to do it, it’s time that you change tack and start parenting yourself.

Welcome to Adulthood. You’re all grown up. It’s time to parent yourself. 

Do this: Pull up your own socks and get the job done. Mum won’t be knocking on your door to tell you otherwise. 


3. Ditch the excuse of waiting to “feel like it”

I am literally writing this article on a stunning, Spring day that I would MUCH rather be spending down at the local surf club or mooching around the shops, but here I am. And although I don’t feel like it, I know on Monday morning, I won’t feel like it either. So, instead of running through the excuses, I just down the coffee or yummy breakfast and get stuck in. 

When I am procrastinating and the excuse is “I don’t feel like it”, I tell my brain that I will never feel like it so feel the pain and do it anyway. 

So, if you are telling yourself you just don’t feel like it, ask “will you EVER feel like it?” 

If the answer is no, just start. 

Do this: know that you will never, ever, ever, ever “feel” like it. Get started. 


4. Fear: feel it and do it anyway

One of the key reasons we don’t want to declutter our homes is that we fear change. Our brains like to go on auto-pilot and change is something that requires extra thinking juice from our brains. So, we tell ourselves we will do it one day. No action, no change. Brain happy for today. 

Fear can translate to not knowing what to do if we get stuck on a sentimental item, fear of putting in the hours and ending up in MORE of a mess than when we started. Fear that our home can never look the way we dream it to look like. These are all valid feelings.

Rest assured that decluttering will always result in a better outcome for you. I have yet to hear of a negative experience where a client decluttered and regretted it. It is a process that once completed, you wish you had done it years ago! 

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway is a bold step, but it will get you started. Avoid looking for reasons to support why you have never decluttered before or why it’s hopeless. Decluttering is not rocket science. It is simply deciding if an item stays or goes. You will make that decision several hundred times, but it is just that one question. Keep it super simple. 

If you can’t move past the fear and feel like you are mentally at a roadblock, just start with a small part of your home. It might be the pantry, your shoes, or a bookshelf. It could be as simple as one single drawer. Start small and with that, show your brain that you can do this. You don’t need to declutter your entire home in a weekend, but a few hours each weekend will quickly compound into creating a home you love to live in.

Do this: Know that your brain hates change. Start small to show that you CAN do this.


5. JFDI it. Just freaking do it.

If you’re the type that likes a Personal Trainer to yell at you to get off the couch or push yourself harder, this is the tip for you. If week after week, the house is just staying the same (or getting worse!), pop that active-wear on and dive in. No excuses. No complaining. Like the Nike ad says: Just Do It. Cut through the crap, roll up your sleeves, and start decluttering. 

I personally like this tip when I get stuck or feel overwhelmed whilst decluttering. Telling yourself to Just Do It pushes through the barrier of hoping that your stuff will sort itself out and encourages you to push on. Imagine that slightly annoyed Personal Trainer standing over you, rolling their eyes, and telling you to “Just Do It!”. 

Do this: Act as your own Personal Trainer and JFDI it. 


Motivation is often an excuse we use for not getting started with not only decluttering our homes but for many other areas of our life. I use all 5 of these motivation hacks at different times and they are ah-mazing when it comes to getting started on pretty much every task. I hope they are of some use to you as well!