What does it take to get you motivated enough to declutter and get organised?

It’s National Motivation Day. Cherry Rudge, Press & PR Officer for apdo-uk, looks at what motivates our members – and their clients.

National Motivation Day

Getting rid of unnecessary household clutter, or making our homes or offices work more efficiently is a common New Year’s Resolution for many of us, especially if we’re preparing for a major life event such as moving house or having a baby.

However, how many of us can honestly say we ever manage to get as much decluttering or organising done as we’d originally wanted to?  How many of us get distracted by other things which seem somehow more important?

In fact, how often did those lists of resolutions turn out to become clutter themselves, and end up in the bin?!

So what motivates people want to declutter and get organised?

We asked our 100 or so Members across the UK about what generally motivates their clients to declutter and get organised.  They told us that for many people, their key driver is their longing to live the life they want to live it.  For example:

  • The desire to be able to have people round to a home that they can welcome friends into with pride
  • Wanting to create a safer or more comfortable environment for grandchildren to visit, or to host special occasions such as parties and other celebrations
  • An urge to put rooms swamped by unwanted possessions owned by others (such as grown-up children who have moved away, or disorganised co-habitants) to a more practical use
  • The longing to free up time (which would otherwise be spent decluttering or organising) to enjoy family activities and hobbies, or do anything other than things that they don’t particularly enjoy or get satisfaction from doing themselves

For others, the decisions to become motivated comes from life events forced upon them, such as a change of personal circumstances due to relationships, work, training, health, economy or bereavement. For instance:

  • They identified a requirement to decorate, build an extension or convert a loft or a garage to create a new room for an office, baby’s bedroom, Granny annexe or craft studio
  • They needed to make space to be able to service boilers, insulate lofts or make household repairs
  • They were downsizing to a smaller property which meant getting rid of non-essential items and possessions with less emotional attachment
  • They needed help making decisions about possessions previously owned by deceased or departed loved ones – what to keep, what to sell, what to give away, etc.
  • There may be legal requirements to provide authorities (such as HM Revenue & Customs) with personal or business details (such as earnings from ISAs or share dealings)
  • People with health, energy, emotional or mobility issues may need to de-clutter or get organised in order to be able to make day-to-day activities easier or less awkward
  • Older generations or people with life-shortening illnesses are often motivated to get their lives/houses in order by the constraints of life itself.  Reality hits them: if they don’t take charge now it’s never going to change, or they might want to declutter their homes and organise their affairs so that it’s not a burden to others once they’re gone.

Admitting to a clutter or organising problem which needs to be addressed is usually the major obstacle to getting it resolved; very little can be achieved until this threshold has been crossed.

What motivates people to hire a professional declutterer or organiser?

If you have a toothache, you go to the dentist; if you have recurring headaches, you go to your GP; if your car is making strange noises, you take it to a garage.  The reason is simple – because you want to find out how to make it better and take the pain (or irritating noise) away.  And the same applies to clutter.

Decluttering and organising can be a daunting and emotionally draining exercise – especially if doing it alone.  For some people, their key motivation to engage a professional declutterer or organiser might be because their primary support group (close family) may live too far away to help, or have limited mobility.  For others, there may already have been have been tension or upset caused by opinionated or judgemental family or friends who had tried to ‘help’ and failed.  For others, the undertaking is simply physically impossible.

The amazing thing about engaging a patient, friendly professional to give confidential impartial advice, motivation, support and practical help, is that it can turn a potentially frustrating and stressful experience into a surprisingly pleasurable one.  Even hoarder clients can feel more energized, more creative, and more relaxed once the burden of not knowing what to do to combat clutter and disorganisation has been lifted from their shoulders, and they can see that a home can be a home and not just a protective castle or barricade.

Sadly it is often the physical manifestation of someone’s anxiety, stress, frustration or anger which ultimately drives them to start the decluttering process; in other words, the greater the pain, misery or heartache created by a situation, the more urgent the need to get organised.

Motivational techniques to inspire people to achieve their decluttering and organising goals 

apdo-uk’s Members come from a diverse assortment of professional backgrounds, and are passionate about helping people bring order to life.  Consequently, they bring with them a wide range of organisational experience and use a range of techniques to inspire their clients – for example:

  • Clients are likely to be encouraged to create a vision for the life of their dreams.  Seeing dream images (either in their mind, or – preferably – by writing it down or through the use of drawings, illustrations or photos) of what a clear and organised home looks like, will enable them to work towards creating solutions to make them feel happier, make them smile and make them feel more energised to strive for success.
  • It’s important to agree SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) in advance, which describe clear benefits and are personally desirable to the client.
  • Breaking the job down into small, familiar tasks and making step-by-step plans so that clients have confidence that they are going to accomplish positive results.
  • Rewarding yourself once the task has been achieved stops the task from being too overwhelming, gives clients a great sense of achievement, and motivates them to keep going.  It also makes it easier for new habits to form, as the brain doesn’t have to work overtime to acquire new skills and memorize steps.
  • Staying positive and eliminating negativity encourages a feeling of optimism and confident self-worth, so that clients only keep things that give them joy.
  • Determining which activities should take place in each room, and where (zoning) allows clients to collect furniture, equipment, containers and accessories relating to those activities together in the appropriate place.
  • Defining an area which can be sorted in 5-10 minutes (like 1 shelf, 1 drawer, 1 box) can help, especially if paperwork is involved: never more than a couple of centimetres deep at a time.
  • Taking before, during and after photos enables a client to see how much they’ve achieved; when we achieve something, it’s easier to forget how things were before.
  • Habits take a long time to form, and can’t necessarily be changed overnight.  The moment even slight stress occurs, the brain often reverts back to its old ways.  So professional organisers make sure they take time to remind clients of how wonderfully they have done, how great they are doing, how much fun it is and that they are worthy of every bit of beauty they create.

Very often, after just a few sessions with a professional organiser, clients report that they have started to enjoy not only their decluttered space and improved home environment, but actually the process of decluttering itself.

What motivates a professional organiser?

If you’d like to know what motivates a professional organiser to do what they do, by all means ask them – but please don’t expect a short answer!

Because the expression on their face will change, their eyes will light up as they start visualising – with great pride and a big smile – the amazing people they’ve met and the before and after photos they’ve taken over the years; and they’ll wax lyrical for ages about how fortunate they are and the great sense of achievement they feel on a daily basis from having made such a difference to people’s lives.

So whether you’ve been trying for years to get organised and failed, or circumstances beyond your control means now is the right time for you to seek decluttering inspiration and support from a Member of apdo-uk, rest assured you’ll be helped every step of the way by a professional who is motivated enough for the both of you.

Cherry Rudge, of Rainbow Red, joined the apdo-uk management team as PR & Marketing Officer in November 2011. She has over 30 years organisational experience, and a varied background as a Director-level PA Secretary, a marketer and project manager. She is delighted to be helping raise awareness of the benefits of APDO-UK, our Members and partners as the UK’s leading professionals in all things related to de-cluttering and organising.

This entry was posted in Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What does it take to get you motivated enough to declutter and get organised?

  1. A special thank you to the apdo-uk Members who contributed to this article:
    - Cynthia and Claire of CynClaire Decluttering;
    - Juliet Landau-Pope, Life Coach & Professional Declutterer;
    - Anna Roberts of Get Sorted;
    - Kirsten Nielsen of KGN Design
    - Rachel Papworth of Green & Tidy

  2. Anne LF says:

    Thank you Cherry for a super article. I’m following your advice and have organized help to clean up, dust and sort thru the zillion things in our house. Don’t I wish you lived in France so you could be the one to come and help. But it’s urgent, so I’ve asked a friend who needs work to come and help me, it will motivate me and will make it less of a hassle.
    Thanks for the advice, support etc..
    You’re a star!

  3. Many congratulations Cherry on a well written and incredibly informative blog. I agree with everything you say; especially that short answers to why we do this are impossible, because we love doing the job! So proud to be a member of Apdo and doing what I do! Ingrid x

  4. Lisa Salter says:

    I have to say that I have recently de-cluttered my home from top to bottom, things had really started to get on top of me and I was becoming un-organised and forgetful. I feel much better ,more motivated and have started to get life back on track! just what the doctor ordered.

  5. Cheryl Barnes says:

    Hi Cherry, I am intrigued to read your article, and as I am interested in starting a small business which will I hope include helping people to declutter, I wonder what training would help me to be more professional in my approach with a customer. I have had many years in catering and hospitality managemanet, and have spent many hours decluttering in my job & home situations but never really been involved in motivating others to do it, or having to do it professionally in stages like you mentioned. Thanks for any advice you can give. Cheryl