The physical act of organizing can be daunting but even starting to think about organizing (like what to organize, when to find time to organize, how you're going to get the job done, and what you want it to look like) can be daunting too. Frequently just the daily chores around the house can be overwhelming. So how can we get the motivation to organize and complete these tasks day in a day? I have compiled a list of five things you can do to help get yourself started and motivated to get the job done. Maybe all of these will work for you or only a few, but even if just one thing on this list helps keep you motivated and get started, it will be a success!
1. What are some day-to-day tasks that are necessary to complete but you just really don't like? Try timing yourself completing one of these 'dreaded' activities. You'll likely find that these tasks only take several minutes (e.g., laundry, emptying dishwasher, etc.). Then the next time you really don't want to do it but know you should, you can remind yourself that it really only takes 4 minutes so it will be over before you know it! Sometimes this is enough for me to just do it but but other times this isn't powerful enough. Give it a try for some of your 'dreaded' tasks!
2. Start with a small area in your home (this can be a small room or even a small drawer) that you see on a regular basis. When you start with something that is small and more manageable, the likelihood of completing that task in a shorter time is higher. When you complete something that you're proud of and that you get to see frequently, this can sometimes be enough motivation to start the next project!
3. Along the same lines of starting with a small area, try starting with an area of your house that gives you the most problem during the day. This frequently is the entrance of your home, area of the kitchen, somewhere in your bedroom/closet, or even your bathroom. When you're able to tackle an area that gets rid of clutter and makes the space more purposeful and functional, you'll start to see how impactful organizing can be in your everyday life making you motivated to keep going!
4. This next trick works for tasks that you need to complete regularly, but with more space in between (e.g., not a daily or weekly task). For example, paying bills or reviewing your budget may happen monthly. Things like scheduling your children's extracurricular activities or calling various places to schedule doctor appointments/vet visits may even be less often. Tasks like these could be paired with a special treat like a favorite drink or dessert. You could even plan to complete these activities with a particular song playing or go to your favorite coffee shop to complete these tasks. Pairing dreaded tasks like this with something that you like may make completing these things easier and more enjoyable.
5. The behavior analyst in me needs to add this last little 'trick' known as the Premack Principle. This basically states that behaviors and activities that are more reinforcing/enjoyable will occur only after engaging in behaviors and activities that are less reinforcing/enjoyable (as a sort of reward). To enforce this rule, first develop a short "to-do" list (cheat code: this can even be one task long) that you want to complete. Next, decide what your enjoyable task will be (e.g., watching a recorded T.V. show, playing a game, reading a book, etc.). Lastly, help yourself commit to this by ensuring your 'reward' is off limits until you complete the task. For example, my husband and I have a box that is equipped with a timed lock which can be set for various durations. He will sometimes put controllers (game or T.V.) in this box and set the timer to stay locked until a specified time to ensure he completes a particular activity before going back to the preferred activity. You could also ask a friend or family member to help ensure you complete your task(s) before allowing you to engage in your 'rewarding' behavior to hold you accountable.