“I am so overwhelmed by all my stuff that I cannot get started.” “There are so many projects, I don’t know where to begin, so I just do nothing.” “I don’t want to live with so much clutter and paper, but I don’t know what to do about it.” I have heard numerous versions of these statements from many clients so if you’ve ever said or felt a similar sentiment, you are not alone! It’s easy to get overwhelmed; no matter how big or small the space that needs attention.


Here are a few ways to motivate yourself to start your organizing project (“OP”) and to maintain the motivation you will need to stay the course.

Set the Right Tone

People generally know exactly why they want to get organized, but sometimes we forget to focus on the reward and rewards are motivating! Here’s a prime example of what I mean, using my own feelings about meal planning….

Meal planning is one of my least favorite ways to spend my time, coming only before the actual act of going into a grocery store, which I detest so much that I pay to order my groceries online and pick them up in the grocery store drive thru lane … best.invention.ever. Over time, I’ve learned that if I focus on how much I dislike sitting down to meal plan, it’s easier to put off or not do at all. On the contrary, when I focus on what I gain from meal planning, I am so much more motivated to do it because it’s a lot easier to prioritize a project when you view it as a reward rather than as a task. For me, meal planning results in less weeknight stress (which are already full of homework and activities, let alone trying to decide what we are going to eat), healthier food choices (as opposed to realizing, at the last minute, that we have nothing to eat so we hit a drive thru) and a lower grocery bill (by structuring meal planning around what is on sale). Less stress, healthier eating, saving money – all rewards, easier to prioritize.

Now, apply this to someone who may not be a fan of organizing. That person’s rewards may sound something like…If I get my house in order, I will feel proud of myself and be able to spend quality time with friends and family without all the anxiety entertaining usually causes me.

Once you acknowledge what you have to gain, write it down. Putting pen to paper is an intentional act and I believe we hold ourselves even more accountable when we are intentional.

Develop a Timeline

Now that you’ve written down your rewards, create a timeline for your OP by first setting a realistic deadline. Start with your end date and work backwards, considering your availability, to determine the specific days and times you need to set aside to finish on time. Block off these hours in your planner before beginning the project to prevent overscheduling, in which case you’ll be forced to give something up and it will likely be the time you meant to set aside for organizing. Setting a deadline is another good way to encourage accountability and formally scheduling the time you will need, just like you do for doctor’s appointments or the kid’s after school activities, will help you keep your OP a priority.

Wondering how much time your project will take? I recommend doubling the amount of time you think it will take and plan your timeline accordingly. If you finish early, you will be all the more proud of yourself and might even be so motivated by your success that you want to squeeze in an extra mini project, like the hall closet!

Set Yourself Up for Success

To drastically increase your chance for success, personalize the experience based on how you think and feel. For instance, when scheduling blocks of time, keep in mind the times of day you feel the most productive and to the extent you are able, work on your OP during that time of day. If you happen to be an extravert, fueled by interaction with others, then enlist the help of a family member or a friend at least for your first session. On the contrary if you are an introvert and need time alone to refuel, think of the time you spend on your OP as the perfect opportunity for the ‘you time’ you need.

Reward Yourself

Setting milestones along your timeline is another good way to create accountability and keep the overall project feeling more manageable and less overwhelming. Include these milestones on your timeline and once you hit each milestone, reward yourself! Did I hear mani/pedi once the kitchen is organized? Finally finish all the bedrooms? Open the expensive bottle of wine you would usually save only for a very special occasion. Don’t think of it as bribery, it’s a well-deserved present.

Hopefully you are feeling more motivated and confidant. Now, quoting the wise words of Nike, “Just Do It”!