They say a clear space helps clear your mind and improves your mood. You have the desire to declutter your space. You want the minimalist living that everyone talks about, but keeping your focus or attention for that long seems daunting. You might struggle even getting out of bed in the morning and as much as you want the results, taking the time to actually declutter seems like an impossible feat. I get it and let me tell you, you deserve the benefits of living a clear space that lights you up and brings you peace. That’s why I put together this step by step plan for decluttering when you’re depressed.
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So, what’s the plan
People become depressed for all kinds of reasons and trying to find motivation or joy is one of the most impossible things. Even if we know clutter is part of what is keeping us down.
Having been someone who has struggled in this area, one thing I have done is to learn how to get out of it. Slowly, but effectively. And clearing your space can help you avoid major depression sessions later in life as well.
So here’s the game plan:
- We’re gonna keep this short and sweet. You choose a time limit for decluttering.
- Start small. Instead of starting with a room, you can start with as little as one drawer in your desk.
- Rewards. One thing about cleaning or decluttering, the reward of it seems so far gone, that’s why I’m going to show you how to get yourself more rewards in less time.
- Lasting motivation. These quick bursts of decluttering along with the rewards they offer can help boost your dopamine levels and keep you motivated to keep going or even just allow you to sit back down with a little more peace of mind.
Set a timer
When you know there is an end point, it makes actually doing something so much less awful. Less awful. Yeah.
So you decide how much motivation you have got. Can you do 10 minutes? 20? Maybe just 5? You decide what you are willing to commit to and then we’re going to hone in your focus on just a teeny tiny area to start decluttering.
Choose one room to start in
Pick a room to start in. Chances are, you already have one in mind.
More often than not, when we start decluttering our space we do the “Room Wander Game.” Do you know what I mean? That game where you find one thing from one room, so you bring it to the other, then you clean in there only to find yourself moving to yet another location.
At the end of the day, you’ve spend 3 hours running around and cleaning but nothing has been accomplished.
This is exhausting and defeating so do yourself a favor and just stick to one room! Then, we’re going to make this even smaller. Even less. I’m not even suggesting you try cleaning an entire room. That can be a lot. Here’s what you’re going to do instead.
Select an area of that room
Now, instead of trying to tackle the entire room, my best recommendation is to focus in on one area of that space. Baby steps. If you are struggling to find the motivation to even get out of bed, let alone declutter, don’t give yourself a mountain to climb.
Just work on taking the very first step.
Here are some ideas on small places to get started:
- One single drawer
- A purse or wallet
- Your closet
- The backseat of your car
- The junk drawer
- Under your bed
Choose a place to start with that makes sense with your time limit that you have set for yourself.
Take a before photo
Now, here’s one thing people always forget to do (myself included): taking a before photo.
Have you ever done a project, gotten in better shape or created something new and thought, “Man, I wish I had a before photo!” It’s such a letdown because then you’d be able to really see the difference!
So, this is me giving you a reminder to take the before photo! Do this with every small project you tackle!
So this is your reminder to take a before photo. Even if it’s just for your own personal enjoyment later on.
Create piles so you don’t walk away
The one thing that gets us bouncing from room to room is when we see something that needs to be tossed in the garbage or put into another room.
Instead, create piles for yourself.
- Put back
As you declutter, sort items into one of these 3 piles if they are no longer needed in the space that you choose to declutter.
Don’t put too much focus on your piles. Keep your sites set on the decluttering task at hand.
To make things easier bring your garbage into your space, grab a bin to put away items in and a bag for donations. This was you don’t spend your time cleaning one space, only to create three piles of clutter in its wake.
Turn on some tunes
Music has a major effect on our emotions, so before you start decluttering, it’s crucial that you turn on your favorite most motivational songs. Not motivational rage songs. Ok. Let’s be clear.
I’m talking something that was made to perk you up and get you snapping your fingers.
Having a faster tempo and uplifting lyrics is more likely to keep you motivated, keep you moving, and help you accomplish more in your designated amount of time.
I know this might be hard, because when you’re down and struggling, more often than not you want to listen to sad, slow music. The happy songs might feel forced, but I promise, they have this amazing power to boost you up. So even if you’re not feeling it at first, please give it a try!
When you finish, as soon as that alarm goes off, it’s time to celebrate! Sit back and take a look at your handy work. Be proud of yourself.
Don’t focus on how much is left, instead put all of your time and attention on the finished product that you just worked to complete! Then…take a picture!
Take an after photo
You took the before picture, now take an after photo. Being able to scroll back and forth to see the difference can give you such a feeling of accomplishment!
And of course, happiness loves company!
Share your picture with one person
Once you’ve taken your before and after photos, share it with someone. Someone else who might need the motivation or someone who you know that is always rooting for you to succeed.
There are of course going to be butt heads who don’t see the big deal about cleaning out your wallet. Don’t send it to those people. They don’t get it. And that’s not their fault.
Allow yourself this moment to brag and be proud and don’t worry about seeking other people’s approval for it!
Start again. When you’re ready.
After finishing your first project, maybe you’ll be motivated to try another 30 minutes. Maybe you need to take a break. Either way is A OK.
When you’re ready, when you’re feeling a small burst of “maybe I could do that again…” then do it! Same process. Set a timer, pick an area, get organized, start jamming and don’t forget those pictures!