I’ve talked a bit about diligence before, and lately it’s been coming back to the forefront of my mind. What I’m finding in my own life is that everything is a constant journey and adventure. I love approaching life from this standpoint, it certainly makes it more fun, but I’m also seeing that living in this way means to I need to keep my own clutter to an absolute minimum. How to do that? Diligence.
After receiving much cultural programming about what it means to have enough to survive, it may take us some time to make our way out of the well-worn grooves of retail therapy, continual acquisition, or other behaviors that create clutter in the first place.
Even though over the last year or so my husband and I have ditched at least 50% of our physical stuff, I can already see life propelling me into a future where it will be easier if I have even less stuff than I do now. And as I think back, it took quite a bit of time to get rid of 50% of our stuff. It’s not like it happened overnight, or even in one month – it took several months of diligent work to shine light into all the nooks and crannies of our modestly-sized home. Our vision to move away from Iowa was huge motivation for us to keep going, to get rid of more and more. And even last month when I stood watching the moving truck being loaded, I found myself wishing we would have gotten rid of even more.
Let’s talk about diligence – one of my favorite words at the moment. To start with a definition, according to Google results and Dictionary.com:
careful and persistent work or effort. constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.
synonyms: conscientiousness, assiduousness, assiduity, application, concentration, effort, care, industriousness, rigor, meticulousness, thoroughness
Diligence is a core attitude to cultivate when it comes to decluttering. Here are five ways to cultivate it.
1. Create a Really Compelling Vision. Simply wanting “to get organized” is not enough to continue to propel you forward.
Ask yourself what is it REALLY that you want to gain by clearing your clutter?
What is it you want to be able to do in your space that you cannot do right now?
Painting a very clear picture of how you want to feel, how you want to move, and how you want to be in your space is a foundational piece of clearing your clutter.
If you don’t have a Vision for your space that you can keep coming back to and remind yourself of why you’re doing this in the first place, it’s easy for motivation to turn into discouragement.
2. Create a Reward System. Some people feel that seeing the progress they have made in their decluttering efforts is enough to keep them moving forward.
But that isn’t the case for everyone – plus sometimes when it comes to clearing your clutter, things are going to get messier before they get better, so it’s hard to see the progress. If you’re one of these people, consider setting up a reward system.
You can reward yourself with a hot bath with you favorite essential oils, or perhaps dinner out at your favorite restaurant, or even spending an extra 10 minutes really enjoying your cup of tea.
A key component is picking a reward that is consistent with how much work you’ve actually done. For example, you probably don’t want to take yourself out to a really fancy restaurant as a reward for doing 30 minutes of clutter clearing. Something like enjoying reading your favorite magazine for 15 minutes without guilt might be a more appropriate reward.
Pick rewards that you really want but don’t often give to yourself, pick nice things that you don’t always do for yourself, pick rewards that motivate you.
3. Work in Smaller Chunks. Often we get overwhelmed with how much clutter there is to deal with.
Thinking about decluttering a whole room can seem very unsettling, and for some people it’s hard to see the smaller components of what needs to be done.
Instead of looking at the whole room, work on just one box, work on clearing off the coffee table, work on one shelf of the bookcase. And after those areas are clear resolve to keep them that way. The trick is being consistent about it.
It can feel a lot easier to get up the motivation to work on a small area rather than thinking about what it’s going to take to finish the whole room. Try it and see what you think.
4. Keep A Journal. Sometimes we don’t see how much we’ve done because we’re only seeing how much there is LEFT to be done.
This is where keeping a journal can come in really handy.
Write down and celebrate the decluttering progress you HAVE made and the way you felt when you were done.
If you get to those points of feeling discouraged, come back to your journal and remind yourself of how far you’ve come and how great it felt when you followed through with your decluttering tasks.
5. Get Support. This might be something as simple as having a Decluttering Buddy, or you might find a Clutter Support Group in your area.
Often times people with clutter feel as if they are the only ones struggling with the overwhelm and other issues that come along with the clutter.
Sometimes connecting with others so you don’t feel so alone, so you can openly talk about your clutter clearing challenges can bring about the spark of motivation you need to keep moving forward.
To help you get the inspiration and support you need, I will be continuing offering the Community Clutter Clearing days. We meet Thursdays for two hours on Skype starting at 2pm PDT, San Francisco; 5pm EDT, New York; 10pm GMT, London; (Friday) 9am AEST, Sydney. Ready to take some action with regards to your clutter? Join our group and get some guidance and support. Your investment is only $33 per session. Send me an email and let me know if you’d like to sign up! If this sounds up your alley but the time doesn’t work for you, please also send me an email and let me know that. I’m working to incorporate more times that will work for more people!