Getting Organized Bit by Bit

“Slow progress is still progress.”

I frequently remind my home organizing clients of this truth. Raise your hand if you’ve been living for years in a neat and tidy home that suddenly became cluttered in the last 24 hours. Anyone? No, of course not! Clutter builds gradually, bit by bit.


The problem is once we hit our threshold of tolerance and want to live differently, we want the change to happen NOW, immediately. We become impatient and then discouraged when we feel like our efforts to de-clutter and get organized don’t result in significant changes in the way our home looks. You spent an hour sorting a pile of paper, but there are dozens more piles to tackle. You purged 4 bags-worth of items from your closet, but your clothes collection has expanded to other closets in the house and you haven’t even touched them yet. And then there’s the jam-packed basement….UGH! What’s the use of trying?


STOP! Take a long, deep breath. Get a big glass of water, gather paper and a pen, and sit in a comfy chair. Give these questions some serious thought and write down your answers:

1. How long can you typically work before your stamina (mental or physical) wears out?

2. Think about the areas you want to de-clutter—how can you break the work into small sections that can be completed in the time frame of your answer to question 1?

3. What are some things you can give yourself as a reward for making progress?

4. How will de-cluttering your home and being more organized improve your daily life?


The answers to the last question become the big-picture reminders of what you will gain at the end of this process of purging and organizing. Use these as motivation to do at least one task on the days you don’t feel like working on your project.


Questions 1-3 help you set a practical, manageable approach to getting organized. When we set a big, grandiose plan in any area of life it often becomes so overwhelming to accomplish that our energy and motivation flame out quickly. Research has shown that progress—even small progress—is a huge motivator to keep going. When we acknowledge small wins along the path to a goal, we boost our self-esteem, we increase our belief in our ability to get things done, and we gain momentum to keep moving forward.


Even if you “only” work for a short amount of time and “only” get a tiny space cleared, give yourself a pat on the back and a little reward. You made some progress! Hooray! Let yourself feel satisfied. Giving yourself this positive reinforcement will help you accomplish more in the long run than if you beat yourself up for not doing more now.


“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.”

(Doug Firebaugh, Speaker/Author)

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