One of my key principles for successful decluttering is to create daily routines that become automatic. These routines become habits you don’t even think about. And before you know it you are the person that lives a clutter-free life.
Spending even only 5 minutes to declutter daily is more powerful than a three-hour purge on the weekend if you don’t do anything again for weeks.
Here I said it!
Whenever I say this to people I get a pushback, “oh no Conny, you don’t understand, my situation is different. 5 minutes a day is not enough, I really need to take the time to do it right”.
And then they go off and don’t do anything for days, weeks or months again because they can’t find these 3 hours, that half day or full day, or that weekend anywhere in their busy schedule…
Decluttering as a one-time event is like a crash diet!
The results usually don’t last and the situation could get even worse than before. With weight loss, for example, the statistics show that people that did a crash diet usually gain all the weight back and then some.
After a one-time clutter clearing session without changing any habits and routines, you could end up having a cluttered home again after only a short period of time and in addition some mental clutter to go with it.
What is mental clutter?
Clutter is more than just the physical stuff. Our minds can get cluttered too, with old ideas, limiting beliefs, and negative self-talk.
You might use this failed attempt to declutter your home to tell yourself that you are a hopeless case and that your mother (father, aunt, ex-boyfriend) was right and that you are a slob and can’t live an organized life.
But unless you change your habits and daily routines, not much is changing for the long-run.
How much time a day for succesful decluttering?
The reason I say 5 minutes is, we all have busy lives, but you can always find 5 minutes or maybe even 10 minutes, to declutter and organize your home and/or office, your finances or your life, whatever your goal is.
If you doubt what I am saying, then you might not understand the importance of momentum.
It’s more important that you get something done every single day and feel like a winner than doing a whole bunch of stuff once in a blue moon, struggling and then feeling like you are failing and are not making any progress.
People don’t decide their futures, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their future. Or as John C. Maxwell says:
The secret to success is found in your daily routine.
That’s why in my eyes, the easiest way to declutter is, to create daily routines that become automatic. These routines become habits you don’t even think about and before you know it, they have become more than habits – they are part of who you are!
How do you start?
So what is the one habit that you could acquire that would lead to you being the type of person who naturally lives a clutter-free life? No matter how busy your life gets, you realistically could do this activity every single day?
Ask yourself where your biggest chaos is and find a 5-minute habit to do
- If it’s the kitchen and the dirty dishes, get into the habit of cleaning the kitchen every day for 5 minutes.
- If it’s your clothes in the bedroom, get into the habit of putting the dirty clothes in the hamper and hang the ones you want to wear again.
- If it’s in your office, every day before you stop working, take 5 minutes to straighten your desk and put everything away.
We humans are creatures of habit. That you have a chaos at home or in your office is a habit. That you live a chaotic life is a habit. You are used to living that way, you do it without thinking.
If you want to change this, it takes a little bit of work at the beginning until you have some momentum and then that new habit becomes automatic. Soon you don’t have a chaos at home or in your office anymore.
Now I ask you: what is the one habit that you could acquire that no matter how busy your life gets, you can realistically do every single day? Let me know in the comments below.
I like this Conny. I’m an all or nothing person usually so I tackle it all day or for a few days in a row when I feel overwhelmed with things, yesterday I tidied my office and dusted in preparation for my new laptop Felt good to do,just that and carry on with my day
I’ll remember this – thanks.
Fabulous that you know how you work best. I can dive in and do the “all or nothing” approach as well if needed with Tip #4 in this blog post but to keep all my obligations up to date I prefer the “a few minutes a day” approach.
I do a lot more than 5 minutes usually.. but I got into the habit of always trying to keep my kitchen sink clean. I (most of the time but at night it’s hard) wash dishes right after I use them them. I also wash things before I take a shower. I need to do dirty things first
I like it “dirty things first” 🙂 thank you for your feedback Ava.
I’d like to take the 5 minute challenge in my office every day before I start and possibly before I leave.
Keep me posted how it goes Janet and how you feel starting your work in a more organized environment. Thanks for reading and commenting <3
Having just completed your free decluttering challenge, I agree the 5 minutes a day makes a huge difference. Some areas may require longer periods of time, but the 5 minutes a day truly makes more of a difference than you would think. It certainly builds that feeling of success. The 5 minutes a day was among my best takeaway from the challenge.
Thank you so much, Karin, for your feedback <3 yes, most people don't believe it makes a difference until they try it.
It’s funny, as reading your article… my biggest catalyst for starting to change (about 5 years ago) was to start doing the dishes every evening. I decided to do it, and started doing it, and haven’t stopped since. It’s become such a habit that I even do them in other people’s house when I’m visiting It was the first decision and habit on breaking an unhealthy pattern, and the trigger of many to come. It doesn’t mean that all changes because of that, still new layers of clutter happen, but you are so right by pointing out and inviting to take on these small routines rather than go for the big challenges. Thanks for putting it out there
Thank you for your comment Alicia and congratulations on keeping up with your one habit for over 5 years, you are now the person who doesn’t wake up to dirty dishes, I love it.
That’s excellent, you’ve inspired me to do this now. I was always putting off doing the dishes in the evening & then hating to wake up to a sink full of grunge in the morning, which made me feel like I wasn’t coping & always playing catch-up! Thanks so much x
That makes my day that I inspired you 🙂 It’s usually the little things that make a big difference whether or not we feel we are in control.