How to Stop Procrastinating and Declutter

Are you ready to stop procrastinating and declutter? It’s never too late!

As I am writing this, the buds are forming on the trees outside and my tulips are pushing up through the warm earth. It’s early March, and I am reflecting on the goals I set in January, those well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. I confess I have not made as much progress with my goals as I would have liked…

Maybe the same is true for you. Maybe decluttering was on your list of New Year’s resolutions. If it was, that’s great! If you haven’t quite gotten around to it yet, don’t despair and don’t give up.

Procrastination is a demon we all face in one form or another and decluttering is probably on the top ten list of things people are prone to procrastinate. While it’s easy to get sucked into the endless cycle of putting things off, it’s not as hard as you might think to break that cycle.

All you need is a plan!

Follow the simple tips below to formulate your own foolproof plan to stop procrastinating and start decluttering today.

Just do it!

NikeÒ had the right idea when they went with this simple yet suggestive phrase as their slogan. It’s a truism that applies to procrastination with the same accuracy as it applies to scoring points on the court or winning a race.

My resolution this year is about weight loss. While I haven’t lost as much weight as I hoped to at this point in the year, I have lost weight (14 lbs. to be exact). The success I have enjoyed (albeit limited) came when I decided to stop procrastinating and do it. It’s that simple.

I knew what I needed to do and how to do it. I just kept putting it off, making excuses for why tomorrow was a better day to begin than today.

The first, and perhaps most important, step in this process is to get started. Do something. Give yourself a taste of success. You’ll find it suits you! Best of all, success breeds motivation. The more success you have, the more motivated you are to keep at it.

Chunk It

Chunking is the process of breaking big tasks (which can often seem overwhelming) into smaller, more manageable tasks. 

Chunking is a great way to stop procrastinating those seemingly insurmountable decluttering tasks. Begin by analyzing the task and breaking it down into small, easy-to-accomplish mini-tasks. Doing so will give you a good feel for the actual amount of time and effort involved in completion of the task and allow you to make informed decisions about how best to utilize your time. 

Let’s say your goal is to declutter and organize your closet. Rather than trying to tackle the whole thing at once, chunk it. Set aside a few minutes one day to sort through a single drawer. The next day declutter the contents of one hanging rod. In just a few chunks of time you’ll have a neatly organized closet free of clutter, and you’ll be amazed how easy it was to achieve!

Pace Yourself

One reason people put off decluttering is because it seems like it will take forever. Instead of trying to go the long haul, stop procrastinating and commit yourself to working steadily for a certain period of time, say an hour.  

Set a timer to keep you on task. Don’t stop until it goes off. If you finish what you hoped to accomplish and the timer is still running, keep working! It’s amazing what can be accomplished in an hour of uninterrupted effort.  

Eliminate Distractions

One of accomplishment's biggest enemies is distraction. The siren call of the modern world is technology. All day long our devices ding and chime with the alluring call of tweets, messages, push notifications and other distracting tones begging us to drop what we’re doing and take a quick peek.

You know as well as I do there is no such thing as a quick peek. Give in to the temptation to check a social media account and the next thing you know you’ve lost half an hour of your life. For a person prone to procrastinating a certain task – say, decluttering – such inducements can be fatal to progress.

One great way to stop procrastinating is to eliminate such distractions. Decide on a time when you are going to work on your decluttering goal and then silence anything that is likely to entice you away from your intended purpose. Turn off your phone and put it where you won’t hear it buzz or vibrate, preferably in another room.  

Still tempted? Ironically, there are apps you can add to your electronic devices which are designed to protect you from the allure of your electronic devices

One such app is known as Freedom

Freedom allows you to block specific apps and websites for set periods of time which you determine. You can even cut off internet access entirely (which would really come in handy during a decluttering session). As a further deterrent to temptation, this app requires you to reboot your device in order to get back online ahead of schedule. The Freedom app may not be for everyone as it does come at a cost. There are monthly ($6.99) and annual (approximately $29) options available.

Recommended Reading

For more information on distraction inhibiting apps, peruse Jeremy Goldman’s article 6 Apps to Stop Your Smartphone Addiction.

Strive for 80%

My husband often touts the 80% solution. It’s the idea that it is better work until you achieve 80% of what you set out to do than it is to not do anything because you can’t do 100%.

What we’re really talking about here is counter-perfectionism.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest obstacles to decluttering. People know they will never be able to declutter their homes 100%, so they determine not to do it all. This is the very definition of counterproductive.

Of course you will never be able to declutter your home 100%. That is the nature of clutter. As soon as you clear some away, more moves in. To say it’s not worth dealing with it if you can’t get it all is defeatist and inaccurate.

If perfectionism is the thing that is preventing you from decluttering, stop procrastinating by adopting the 80% solution.

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. Don’t give in to the unattainable idea that everything has to be just so. Often that last 20% of any project is made up of the knit-picky details that most people don’t even notice.

A home that is 80% decluttered is a pretty great place to be.

Stop Procrastinating Today

There is a Chinese proverb which says:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

In other words, don’t fret over what you haven’t achieved.

Just get started without delay and you'll have great things to look forward to in the future.

All of us fall victim to the temptation to procrastinate from time to time. Don’t let it defeat your vision of a clutter-free home.

I wish you well as you implement these tips to stop procrastinating and start decluttering today.  

Recommended Reading

For an interesting look at the science behind the phenomenon of procrastination (as well as some great tips for overcoming this obstacle), I recommend Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating by James Clear. 

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