How to keep on top of clutter

DSC02580I had a big realisation yesterday, after another weekend where decluttering the house slipped to the bottom of my family’s priority list, once again. Why does that always happen?

The big clean up myth

I realised it was pointless to wait for the ‘big clean up’, it will never happen, who wants to spend a whole day tidying?  I could put my foot down and make everyone do it, but I guess the fact that I haven’t, means my heart isn’t in it. But, putting it off until we have more time is just another way of not facing up to the problem, which is really getting me down. My house is so…parentshaped.

Making a dent

I was so fed up with our lack of motivation last night, so convinced that there was no way we could make a dent in the clutter, so I sulked in the garden while my husband tore around clearing up. When I flounced in ten minutes later, I was pretty impressed with how much he had achieved and that’s when it hit me.

Short Bursts

I think the solution has to be short bursts. Start with 5 minutes a day, focus on one area at a time. Last week I tackled the clutter on the kitchen table, last night my husband cleared the coffee table. Today if we sort out the washing pile and clear the post out of the hall I think we will be on our way to a 10 minute smash and grab in the playroom tomorrow. On Wednesday it can go to the charity shop.

Gaining Control

Even achieving control over a small area of the house can feel like a big achievement. Clearing my desk in a spare ten minutes last week really helped me to feel ready to focus on work again. Without realising it I then cleared the office floor of boxes, packages and camera leads.  The clear path to my laptop was unbelievably motivating.

Put a timer on it

A while back I learnt about the Pomodoro technique, it basically involves using a timer to motivate yourself. The inventor had a tomato shaped kitchen timer, hence the name I believe. So if you have no motivation whatsoever, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and promise yourself you are free to leave when the timer goes off. I think you’ll be surprised at a) what you achieve in 5 minutes, and b) the amount of motivation you have to continue just a little bit longer than you planned.

So that’s my plan for tackling the clutter. Just 10 minutes a day, using the timer if I really don’t want to do it. That’s over an hour a week and probably more, as once I get into it I think I won’t want to stop. So much better than a whole day of decluttering, plus you can’t beat the feeling that it is happening now, and not… mañana.

Final Tip

Car boots and eBay are all well and good, but in my experience our ‘stuff to sell’ waits for months in a pile before ending up at a charity shop. Reward yourself for your donation to the charity shop, if you Gift Aid it some charities will send you an email letting you know how much your old stuff raised which is very motivating.



  1. 09/07/2013 / 9:45 am

    Oh this post is right up my street. I’m a big believer in the tackling of small areas, as our place just needs an entire overhaul but when you contemplate it, there’s just way too much and it becomes overwhelming. Even if it’s something as basic as sorting the pile of videos/CDs that was growing by the TV (did that one yesterday), that sense of achievement is a great motivator to do more.

    I read about the Pomodoro technique too and it’s great, not just for clutter but creative tasks too — I don’t use it nearly enough. Thanks for the reminder, great post! x

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