10 Tips When You Lack Motivation to Declutter (Podcast or Post #22)

How do you motivate yourself to declutter your home? Here are 10 tips to give you motivation to declutter if you dread getting started.

As someone who has struggled with severe procrastination, combined with owning too many items, and as someone who sees the sentimental value or potential hypothetical use of pretty much every item in my home, I know it can be hard to motivate yourself to get rid of things.

These tips for decluttering motivation will help you to start decluttering without feeling overwhelmed.

(Below you can read the post or play the podcast version- about 17 mins.)

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Free Kitchen Declutter Checklist– This PDF is a cheat sheet of over 30 items you can declutter in your kitchen, (which is the room I recommend you declutter first.)

Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern– I will always be grateful for this book because it made me believe I was capable of being an organized person.

The Living Well Planner- This is my FAVORITE physical planner! (It has hourly time blocks and so much more.)

Free Daily Cleaning Roadmap- This contains printable daily cleaning checklists in the recommended order of which tasks you should do first.

Play the audio for this podcast (above) or download it by clicking on the 3 dots to the right of the volume control. (Otherwise, you can read the post below.)

1.) Determine why a decluttered home is important to you.

woman glances at closet thinking about why she needs to get rid of clothes to give herself motivation to declutter

Your ‘why’ is what will motivate you the most to start getting rid of clutter.

The truth is, you can set yourself up with the best circumstances to declutter. But if you don’t have a reason for doing it, why will you bother?

So, a good exercise to do is to write down the reasons why you want a decluttered home. 

Your reasons may be different than mine. But I’ll share my reasons just as an example and to get some inspiration flowing.

5 Reasons a Decluttered Home is Important to Me:

1. It creates a more relaxing environment. 

Home should be a haven from the craziness and stress that’s out there in the world. 

And this should be the case not only in that we feel emotionally safe with any family members or pets we share our home with, but the physical environment should be a haven for us too. 

No one wants to come home from a crazy day to a house that’s a mess. 

Physical clutter also equals mental clutter. 

So when your home is uncluttered and clean, you will have more mental clarity and you will seem to have more time too.

2. I don’t want to feel embarrassed when someone stops by the house. 

Not only do I want my home to be clean and decluttered for any guests we invite over, but I also want to keep it looking decent for unplanned visitors too. 

I have had so many times where a friend has stopped by to give us something.

Or for some other reason some person has come over for an impromptu visit. Or we’ve had to have someone come to fix something in the house and there isn’t a lot of time for me to clean up before they arrive. 

Whether the company is planned or not, I don’t want my house to look like a tornado went through it when they get here.

3. It’s easier to find things and you’re less likely to lose them.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the joy of losing your keys because you set them on top of a cluttered surface and there’s so much stuff there that you can’t see them. 

But I have sure wasted time in the past looking for something that would have been visible had there simply not been clutter everywhere.

4. My house simply looks better when it’s uncluttered.

5. I want to set a positive example for my kids, raise them in a clean environment, and teach them by example how to manage a home. 

So those are my personal ‘why’s’ for why I want my home decluttered.

Think about your own reasons for getting motivated to declutter and write them down as well.

2.) Tell yourself you are capable of getting rid of clutter.

a woman sits on steps outside writing down positive affirmations to motivate herself to declutter

I promise you that you CAN do this. You can declutter your home and keep it that way

If you aren’t a naturally organized person, that’s okay. And hey, welcome to the party, because believe or not, neither am I!

But guess what? 

That doesn’t mean that people like us can’t become organized and get rid of clutter.

One of the best things that helped me change the voice in my head is something I read in the book Organizing from the Inside Out.


I don’t remember the exact wording, but the author basically explained that even the most disorganized person is organized in at least one or more areas of their life or home. 

And if you can do it in one area, you can do it in more areas, I daresay even all areas.

For myself, I realized this was true. And this one thought was a turning point for me in how I thought about organization. 

Up until this point, I was telling myself I couldn’t do it. 

Even though the apartment we lived in at the time was an embarrassing disaster, I always had my towel cabinet organized and orderly. 

Although it would be a few more years before I’d get my house under control, this was a lightbulb moment for me. Because someone finally made me believe that I was capable of being organized.

Believing you can do something is crucial to actually doing it.

According to Dr. Melissa Weinberg, an Honorary Fellow from Deakin University’s School of Psychology, “Self-efficacy is a core belief that represents your perception that you are able to produce a desired outcome.” And she states that it “serves as a motivating factor that guides you towards completing actions and making decisions that are likely to ultimately lead to successful task achievement.”

So basically your perception of whether you can do something or not actually influences how likely you are to succeed.

And along with the thought of telling yourself you can declutter and be organized, there’s something else important that I want to mention.

If youve made progress with the clutter in your home, and your home has started to backslide and get cluttered again, I want you to know that you didn’t fail. And it’s not the end of the world.

You actually succeeded and you proved that you can make progress and get your home under control.

So you just need to get back to doing the things that were working. 

Life happens and sometimes we get behind on things. But we can take control again.

And I’m going to be honest here. Although I’m always talking about keeping a house clean and organized, I’m far from perfect too.

In fact, I just had a baby. And I decided this time to actually (mostly) listen to my midwife’s instructions of not doing housework for the first 2 weeks postpartum. 

And because of that, I’m not gonna lie, our house is somewhat messy right now. Now it’s definitely not as bad as it used to be before I learned the cleaning and organization skills I now have. And thankfully my husband and mom did help out with some things, especially right after I had the baby.

That said, I wouldn’t want to invite people over with how it looks right now.

But I’m not feeling stressed or depressed about the state of my home because I know it’s just temporary. I know how to get my home back under control.

I know how to catch up on the mail I haven’t opened, and I’ve already caught up on laundry and dishes. Getting my home clean and decluttered is doable. And I know this because I’ve done it before.

If your home starts to get messy or cluttered again after you’ve uncluttered it, give yourself some grace. 

If you’re going through a season of life that is making things more challenging, then do the best you can do with your circumstances. Make progress again with your home- when you can. 

3.) Only focus on decluttering one area or one category of items at a time.

a kitchen drawer that was decluttered

For instance, if you need to declutter your kitchen, focus on one drawer, one shelf, or one counter at a time. Or focus on decluttering one category of items at a time, such as dishes or storage containers. 

This tip here is essential if you want to avoid overwhelming yourself and burning yourself out. 

It will also waste time if you are jumping around decluttering different items in different places.

And it will make it harder and slower for you to see real progress with your clutter.

4.) Focus on the areas that are interfering with your daily life and/or look visually cluttered.

cluttered shelves

This will help motivate you to keep decluttering once you start.

And this is because you will see and experience the effects of the areas you’ve already decluttered.

I know it’s tempting when you start organizing and decluttering to want to start with the junk drawer or in a closet that has miscellaneous clutter.

But it typically isn’t going to serve you to start there. While your junk drawer will look better when you’re done, it won’t help your home as a whole look better or function better.

We want to declutter intentionally and get rid of things where it counts. 

After you declutter the spaces that are having a direct effect on your day-to-day life, the junk drawer will still be there to sort through, I promise.

5.) Put decluttering in your schedule at specific dates and times. 

a woman schedules a time in her planner and writes it down so she'll feel motivated to declutter

Schedule a regular time each day or week to declutter until you are satisfied with the state of your home. 

Being consistent will motivate you to continue. Decluttering will become a normal part of your routine for as long as you need it to be.

I personally use a physical planner called the Living Well Planner.

I love this planner because it has hourly time blocks. And it’s easy for me to schedule things like cleaning, decluttering, appointments, homeschooling, and so on. 

I’ve used a lot of planners over the years and this is by far my favorite planner.

I’ve used it for 4 or 5 years now at least.

But regardless of which type of planner you choose- whether physical or digital, make sure you schedule time for decluttering.

6.) Use a countdown timer to do short decluttering sessions. 

woman sorts items into 'declutter' and 'keep boxes during a timed decluttering session

Shorter decluttering sessions that are between 10 to 30 minutes will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

And it will be easier to fit these shorter sessions into your schedule too.

If you feel like you want to get everything done at once, believe me, I get it.

But let’s be realistic…you’re listening to a podcast on how to motivate yourself to declutter. 

Let’s face the facts.

It’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to declutter when you set a timer for 15 minutes than to try to talk yourself into decluttering for hours at a time or all day.

As much as you want your house fully clutter-free, you probably don’t want to spend all day doing it… Otherwise, you would have already done that, right?

And one of the factors that affects our motivation is our time. 

Fitting 10 or 20 minutes of decluttering into a day is much more doable than dedicating an entire day to getting rid of clutter.

And I know as a busy mom, I honestly don’t have an entire day to declutter my house. 

But I absolutely can set aside 20 minutes. 

I also don’t feel like I’m cleaning or decluttering endlessly when I set a timer.

Because I know I’m not going to be doing it all day. And once the timer goes off I have permission to stop.

7.) Reward yourself for the decluttering you accomplish. 

a woman's feet are shown on the tub as she takes a bubble bath after decluttering her house

Do something that brings you joy whenever you finish a decluttering session or project.

Personally, when I’ve finished a decluttering session or accomplish other housework I don’t particularly enjoy, I’ll put a sticker in my planner, eat a snack I like, read a chapter of a book, make myself a cup of tea, or do something else I enjoy.

(And yes, I may be an adult but I love my planner stickers. Don’t judge.)

Come up with some ideas of things you like to do and reward yourself when you’ve done a decluttering session.

Something else I’ve done in the past when I struggled with motivation to declutter was to reward myself for getting started.

So basically I would eat a snack or do something I enjoyed right before I started decluttering or cleaning as a reward for what I was about to do.

8.) Maintain the areas you’ve decluttered.

woman wipes down kitchen counters and keeps them decluttered

If you allow your house to get completely re-cluttered again in places where you decluttered, it will be harder to motivate yourself to keep decluttering.

But when you maintain these spaces, if you have to reorganize and declutter those same areas in the future, you’ll have less to do. And it won’t feel as overwhelming.

9.) Don’t neglect your normal cleaning routine.

woman dusts as part of her cleaning routine

I used to make the mistake of telling myself that it was okay to get behind on cleaning temporarily to make progress with decluttering.

And I was oh so wrong about this.

When you get behind on normal cleaning tasks, you will have more clutter. 

And you’ll probably end up having to clean somewhat while you’re decluttering-which is more work for you. And it will take more of your time too. 

So try to keep your home in a clean state as you tackle your clutter.

If you need help getting into a daily cleaning routine, download our free Daily Cleaning Roadmap.

10.) Listen to something that makes you happy while you’re decluttering.

a woman with headphones on puts music on her phone before decluttering

It can be hard to motivate yourself to do things that are boring. 

You can bring a more positive mindset to decluttering by listening to an audio book, podcast, or music you enjoy.

I personally only listen to these things if I’m driving or doing housework. And I often find myself smiling or laughing when I do, because it brings me joy.

I will also listen to videos on YouTube when I clean or declutter too. 

Listening to things that I enjoy brings a fun component to tasks that are typically boring to me. 

So those are 10 tips to motivate yourself to declutter your home. 

To get started decluttering today, download our free Kitchen Declutter List.

This will help you get started in the room that makes the biggest impact on the state of your home.

Next time on our Podcast or Post we’ll discuss how to keep your house clean with a baby.

This is a challenge I’m dealing with right now since I just had a baby myself. (On top of that, we just got a puppy too, so it’s a double whammy.)

If you don’t have any kids or infants, I’ll be doing more episodes after that are applicable to you.

And if you sign up for our Kitchen Declutter List or you’re already subscribed to our emails, we’ll notify you when new Podcast or Post episodes are published.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


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How to Declutter Dishes, Kitchen Drawers, Cabinets, & Counters

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How to Get Motivated to Declutter Your House

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