Without any doubt, the most common question I am asked about tidying, cleaning and decluttering is how to find the motivation to start.
When we live in messy, dirty or cluttered homes our energy is quite literally drained from us by the mess. It turns out that living in a messy home will actually cause you stress and anxiety, which in turn makes tackling the mess that little bit harder.
This is the vicious clutter cycle.
You are stressed by your mess, so you are unable to tackle it, the mess grows, your stress grows, your inability to cope grow.
It can sometimes seem to the people asking for my help that there is no possible way out. Only a monumental effort could help their homes and they just don't have the energy.
Is this you?
Do you arrive home from work and walk into a sanctuary, or do you arrive home and feel even more on edge?
I promise you this: your home is not beyond saving and you can fix it. This is where the Timer Tango comes into play.
What is the Timer Tango?
Yes, it sounds a little crazy - that's deliberate. Psychology shows that our brains are more likely to be energised and intrigued by something a little out of the ordinary. So, rather than tidying up, I dance the Timer Tango.
All you need is mess to tidy and a timer (you can use one you already have or one on your phone).
After setting the timer for your allotted time, get stuck into your task. Whether it is making your bed, washing your car or tackling your clutter, this method can work for you.
I like to turn on corny 90s pop songs and stage an impromptu song and dance routine as I go. Again, this has a basis in psychological research. Movement can help us to focus on one task without getting distracted (this is why so many of us fidget!) The music? That's just to make the experience feel fun.
You don't have to dance around your house shout-singing the words to Spice Girls hits if that isn't for you. You may prefer to mosh to heavy metal, sing-along to hits from your favourite musicals or waltz to some classical music.
How long should I dance the Timer Tango for?
Sometimes I set my timer for a quick 5 minutes of dancing, singing and tidying. Some days I go for a power hour.
If you are just starting out with your decluttering, cleaning or tidying and feel overwhelmed by your home, I always recommend starting small. Set your timer for 5 minutes - that's the length of one or two really good songs.
When that buzzer goes off to tell you times up, you'll be surprised by how much you actually got done. If your goal was to clean your bathroom, you may have been able to clean your mirror and toilet in that time. Or perhaps you vacuumed your living room, put away some laundry, found 3 things to declutter from your wardrobe or put away 2 pieces of mess. Go you!
It is now time for a break and reflection. Set your timer again for another 5 minutes and use this time to pat yourself on the back, flick through Instagram, have a cup of tea - whatever you want! The key is, when the timer goes off, break time is over.
Set the timer again and get back to the Timer Tango. You can repeat this cycle of tangoing and breaking as many times as you like, but I recommend not overdoing it: you risk running out of motivation in the longterm if you do it this way.
As you get used to the Timer Tango, you can try increasing the length of your sessions (although I wouldn't encourage increasing the breaks at the same rate!) You'll be amazed at just how quickly and painlessly you can declutter tidy up. It really will be a snap!