One of the these reasons is simple: frustration. Things take too long for comfort, you get the sense that nothing is changing, that you are not moving forward. This makes perfect sense: you have so much more stuff than was initially visible and that you were aware of. Each time you open another drawer or cupboard, another door or loft hatch, there is more stuff to take care of. If that does not drain your enthusiasm, nothing will. It takes a lot of mental discipline to continue on this path, and that discipline needs reassuring and reinforcing regularly.
Next reason: motivation. You probably had a pretty good idea what you wanted to achieve when you started decluttering. You had clear goals in your mind’s eye and vigorously moved towards achieving those goals. And then you started to wonder if it’s all worth the effort, you started to doubt your ability to finish that project in light of the time and effort it takes, you lost track of how to get to your goals. This is not uncommon and has more to do with your perception of the job than it has with your perception of yourself. We are constantly gauging ourselves against what we seem to be able to achieve, and take on any input from the outside to adjust that image. If your home does not look like it’s changing in the right direction, of course your motivation wanes. This is when it’s important to take a step back and assess properly.
Next reason: distractions. Let’s say you set out to do a project, let’s say ‘organising your clothes into the available space’. At first things are going fine: you take the small bits out, fold your undies, roll up your socks into pairs, etc. but then you see something you are not quite sure about and try it on. Big mistake! Are you organising or decluttering? Or maybe even modelling? One thing leads to another and you find yourself spending more time on trying things on and wondering if it still fits, will ever fit again, is still in fashion, has your colour or is the right cut for you. Time flies and your focus is elsewhere. Result: you will end up with a room that looks worse than before and it feels like you have achieved nothing.
How can you get out of these mindsets? The answer is simple: give it a rest for a while and revisit later. That may sound simple but it’s far from easy! You will probably lose momentum and further initiative is needed to get you going again. Also it will be difficult to get over a sense of defeat that you may experience.
Try to look at it as a short breather and take the time to identify the things that you HAVE achieved during those previous activities. I bet you’ll have trouble doing that at first, but once you start looking you’ll likely find areas that have improved, items that you can now find and access more easily than before.
Let’s revisit the three examples above. In the first example, your enthusiasm is probably unchanged, it has just been superseded by overwhelm and that can overcome by really limiting your field of activity to one single area or subject.
In the second case, your motivation may actually have diminished, but that is not uncommon and probably holds true for other areas of your life, too. How do you deal with sinking motivation in other areas: you apply pressure or you promise a reward. Pressure is probably not the best option here, but rewarding yourself regularly is a good idea – just don’t make it a shopping trip, okay?
The third case is very common: we all tend to be distracted, and this case involves a clear element of procrastination on top of that. It’s a chore, after all, for most of us. Doing something like trying on clothes, or looking at the photos you found, or reliving moments that brought these items into your life sounds much more appealing than dealing with them. The solution is focus on the task at hand. You can try on clothes or look a photos later. That could even be one of the rewards mentioned in the previous paragraph!
The lesson to take away here is clear: don’t let the circumstances overwrite the intention you had when you went into this process. Stick with your plan, but sometimes that plan is eclipsed by frustration, lack of motivation or distractions. At those times it is useful to take a step back and look at the reasons for these feelings. Maybe you have come across something that had a particular meaning, or you are feeling tired, you may be the type of person who needs to do things step by step or in short increments of time.
There are many reasons why your intention can get blocked off and the only way to figure this out is to stop and do nothing for a short while. Allow your mind to clear the cobwebs and find new clarity. And by all means, give yourself a pat on the shoulder for the work you have done.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.