Episode 81 – When your motivation to declutter has gone

woman who has lost her motivation to declutter

Is your motivation to declutter gone? In this episode we discuss the impact that lockdown is having on us all. We had all good intentions to sort our homes out while spending more time at home but for some of us our mojo is sapped and our motivation to declutter is gone. How do we make steps to get our motivation back and should we even worry about it? 

We had all good intentions to sort our homes out while we are spending more time at home but our mojo is sapped and our motivation to declutter is gone. Can we and should we fix that?

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It's not easy to make positive steps each day when we are experiencing such unusual circumstances. Self care and taking one day at a time is paramount but if your motivation to declutter is gone and you want to get it back, there are a few things to think about.

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Podcast transcript


​Intro 0:07
Welcome to today's episode of The Declutter Hub Podcast, your channel for super easy, no nonsense advice on how to declutter and organise your home. Please welcome your hosts, professional organisers, Ingrid Jansen and Lesley Spellman.

Ingrid 0:31
Hello and welcome listeners to Episode 81 of the Declutter Hub Podcast. If you have clutter and want to sort it out, this is the podcast for you. Now, in today's episode, Lesley and I wanted to talk to you about something very interesting that came up in our live Q&A last week.

One of our members said to us that once lockdown happened she was actually not too dismayed about it because she thought it would be a great opportunity to get all her household jobs and those decluttering jobs done. But she's realised that in reality, it's really, really different. She feels really unsettled. And she finds it all very surreal. And she just realised that her motivation and determination has really become sapped, and she's been chatting to her friends and they were like, yeah, we feel the same. So she was wondering, how do I get that mojo to declutter my house? How do I get back what I was doing so well. And now I feel like I've fallen off the rails. So we just thought it was such a good topic. And that's why we've again, as per usual, thrown our whole broadcast schedule out the window, and we realised that it's such a good question.
 What do we do when out motivation to declutter has gone?


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Lesley 1:53 
Yeah, when it came up in our live Q&A Last week, we thought this is really interesting because this this is something that we're hearing quite a lot. I mean, our job here at the Declutter Hub is obviously to try and motivate people to declutter their houses. But we are also all about keeping it real. And so we're not demanding you use this opportunity to do some decluttering. If that's what you want to do, then go for it. But equally, we fully understand that not everybody is in that place at the moment. And it might be that you are today, and you're not tomorrow, you are this week, but you're not next week. I think it's so different and so changeable, the way that it's affecting all of our moods, and it is going to continue to change so we thought it was something worth exploring.


Ingrid 2:34 
Yeah, for sure. Because we all live at the moment in completely unprecedented times. None of us have ever before been struck down by this virus that is impacting our everyday way of life. And we've never had to deal with the emotion, the fallout of this kind of new reality and we're all trying to find our way, how to handle this current situation. So, we're all trying our best.


Lesley 3:04 
Yeah, I think one of the most difficult parts of it, is the fact that it's so open ended. So you don't know how long it's going to be. If you had a plan and said, right, okay, so we're in lockdown for another four weeks, let's think about what we're going to do. But the thought that this might still be months away is quite depressing, isn't it? 

I think also we've got people who had anxiety before this happened and now their anxiety is going to be through the roof. And we've got people who really struggle and worry about the impact on their health. There are so many facets to this that they need exploring. And sometimes you have to respond to it in the way that you see fit. But sometimes, you have to shield yourself from other people that have different emotions. So if you're feeling positive, and you don't want to be brought down by people that are feeling negative or vice versa so you have to protect yourself in that way as well because we're not going through the same thing at the same time. Our normal outlets for helping ourselves or getting through this, which is talking to family, seeing friends, going out, enjoying yourself, going to the cinema or going for dinner are just taken away from us. And so we are really restricted with our normal coping mechanisms as well, aren't we?

Ingrid 4:20 
Yeah, for sure. And I mean, until now, I'm feeling quite okay. But it might all be different next week. You never know how you're going to respond. It feels a bit like a roller coaster, we're on something and we want to get off. At the moment. I feel okay. I do feel so positive that we can work on the Declutter Hub and are here to inspire in our Facebook group and we can do these podcasts, and chat to everybody. But you never know what might happen. And I might say next week, oh my gosh, when this is going to end? I don't know how I feel about it right now. But for now. I'm trying to have a disciplined frame of mind, but it's not always very easy. You just have to deal with it however you can.

Lesley 5:09 
I think the most important thing for me and I am no expert on this. I am lucky that at this moment in time, I've not been adversely affected by it at all. It's just about the impact on my movement more than anything, so I'm just stuck at home. Other than that, there's been, touch wood, no changes to me at the moment. So I've not had any problems economically, financially, health wise, so I'm super, super lucky and I realised that I think the most important thing for me is to be mindful of the way this is impacting other people. So just this morning, we decided to do the standard thing that we're all doing at the moment, which is to set up a zoom call with all of our friends. In the message I sent out I said, if you don't feel up to it, or you don't think it's going to be positive thing for you, then don't feel obliged to do it. There's no obligation, and even if you change your mind 10 minutes before, that's fine, because we really are on a roller coaster. And so I think the most important thing for me is to be mindful that this is affecting everybody in a completely different way. And at completely different times. So being mindful is is the number one thing I think for me.

Ingrid 6:18 
Yeah. And I think also, for me, what's really important is to be kind to yourself, you know, we are all dealing with it this in a different way. So don't think, Oh, well, everybody else is just getting on with it. And everybody else is doing stuff and I'm not doing anything and be negative to yourself. I think we have to really drop the judgement to ourselves and just go, you know what, I'm dealing in the best way I can. I'm just going to be kind to myself. I want to listen to my own body. I'm going to listen to how I feel. And from there, I'm going to take steps forward and not look around what everybody else is doing because I think you just get overwhelmed and that's not going to help anybody.

Lesley 7:04 
Yeah. So it's important to sort of see that and to appreciate what other people are doing, but also to recognise if you're not in that place to do that at the moment.

You can see on the Facebook group, there are some people that are completely motivated to spend their time decluttering and doing positive things. And equally, there are other people who are probably thinking, there's no way that I can do that. They're probably feeling less good about themselves because they're not doing anything. And that's really what we're here to talk about today, isn't it? Should we be obliged to be doing positive things with our time while we're in lockdown?

Ingrid 7:34 
You know what, I think some people go into action, and others need time to get used to this new reality and for me, there is no right or no wrong way. And I think it's going to be different timewise as well. At the moment, you and I are lucky we have been talking to each other every day. We have been making positive steps forward with the business. We took a few days off this weekend because we needed it. And so we are fairly in tune with what each other needs for most of the time and we're lucky to be able to chat and have a bit of a laugh - that is the nice thing. So it's a quite a nice diversion to work with somebody that you like to be with. This is a nice thing, really. But equally, it can be different. As we said, those moods can change depending on what's happening. The bad news I think, is starting to come through certainly for me at the moment. We're starting to hear of people dying at the moment. That wasn't the case last week, so it's all starting to get very real, isn't it? Posts of people's parents dying are coming through on Facebook now that weren't last week. And so I think that it's going to change again, isn't it? So where does decluttering and routines and organising and your home fit into all this?

Well, I think for me, it might sound really weird, but I think if you are even contemplating doing a little bit of decluttering, I would say start with sleeping. If you are well rested, then you feel better to take anything on. I've been doing some reading on this, and a lot of people agree, sleep is so important. And so what I'm trying to do as well is to go to bed earlier because I am terrible for staying up in the evening because I love my evenings and then I can't get out of bed in the morning. But I've said to myself, I really want to get up the same time every day. So I'm trying to be better at going to bed and having the right amount of sleep hours and having a little bit more than I usually have. That has really helped me because I am a very busy person. I love being busy and doing lots of different things and I I think I run my battery a little bit too low. So for me, I feel really good that I'm sleeping a little bit more at the moment, and I'm feeling more balanced. So I think that can really help to set your mood.

Lesley 10:14 
I think you and I spoke about this last week - we both run our batteries fairly low. And we do work long into the evenings quite regularly. And so you then need your leisure time as well. So, it's a bit of a cliche, but you and I are a little bit work hard play. lIt's such a cliche saying that, but yeah, I've been exhausted. So, normally my bedtime is probably half 11 midnight. I might go to bed at 11 o'clock but by the time I faff around on my phone, everything that you're not supposed to do with the screens or whatever it is. And it's probably midnight before I'm going to sleep and then up again at seven the next day. I used to be a great sleeper. I used to be able to be do eight or nine hours a night but that that ship has sailed. And so now I'm lucky if I get five or six hours, but I'm really tired. And so I'm definitely going to bed much early. But I believe the stress of what's going on causes people to to be more tired. Is it that or is it just because you're tired or because you don't need to stay up quite as late because there's not much to stay up for? So yeah, it's an interesting one. It's definitely important to get sleep. So I guess what you're saying is even if you've not got standard routines within your working day, if you're not going to work if you've been furloughed or anything like that, it's important to keep those routines going for you and your family. Certainly, and sleep is the important part of that.

Ingrid 11:44 
And the second thing I am doing at the moment during weekdays, Monday to Friday, I get up at seven and at 7:15 I've got my trainers on and my jogging outfit. And you know, it was so funny like yes, literally yesterday, I had my in laws and my whole extended family on the phone. My husband has three brothers. So we were all on the phone with the in laws as well. And I said I've been walking every day 7:15 and my in-laws do not believe this. I don't think I even believe it myself that I'm actually doing this but I have proof, which is my daughter has been going with me every morning at 7:15 for just a walk about 40 minutes, 50 minutes depending on what kind of what circle we do. And I'm really it has helped me tremendously because I know for myself as soon as I start my day and I start doing my emails and I start helping the kids and pottering around, I cannot find that time later in the day. I just know myself if I want to do anything I need to schedule it at the beginning of the day. And the weather has been amazing, so it's been really, really lovely. But there are people who don't believe this as I hate getting up in the morning. But it has helped me to get that fresh air every day because we're only allowed out to go either to the to the shops or to the pharmacy or do some walking here in the UK so I've been really doing that exercise Monday to Friday. I've been a bit more lazy over the weekend. But Monday to Friday, I've been walking and it's done me the world good honestly.

Lesley 13:21 
Well that's good. I'm still not into the idea of a 7:15 walk but I can see that I'm not going to change your mind about that. So normally if I am going to do exercise - I run normally- I do that at the beginning of a day, not of course at 7 by the way, but normally half eight, quarter to nine, I'm out running before my day starts. But I'm walking with my son and daughter, my husband sometimes if he's around, so we're going at 4:30 every day which is quite nice as well and kind of breaks the day up a little bit and as you say it has been amazing weather so I set myself a new target last week, which was to do 5km walk every day. So I've got to do 5km which is about 55 minutes.. And so I'm going to try and do that all week. That's my target. I think some part of it for me is, they might say you can't do any exercise any day, you know, we might watch one of those press briefings and I'm like, nope, no more exercise, you've got to stay in your garden. And then I'll be gutted if I didn't go out the previous day for my work and sunlight. We need to get the walks in while we can just in case anything changes. So yes, sleeping and walking is really, really critical. I mean, that's just for general well being, but it's really important at the moment. 

So we've talked about the fact that it's important to be mindful of the way that other people are dealing with this situation. We've talked about being kind to yourself as well. We've talked about routines a little bit and trying to maintain normal routines. So what about the people who have great intentions to declutter during this lockdown, but just can't see a way through? What do we do in that situation? Is it a bad thing? Is it a good thing? What are we saying about that? Ingrid?

Ingrid 15:04 
For me, I'm like, if you do not fancy any decluttering at the moment, just leave it a little while just leave it. Because I think you need to be almost in the mood to do a bit of decluttering. So if you are like, oh my gosh, I don't fancy this at all. Then don't - let it go. And don't be hard on yourself. Make sure you then stay on top of your little household jobs - do your washing up, empty your bins, bring out your recycling. If you can do a bit of laundry, you know all of those little normal kind of bits and bobs that you would normally do any way, see if you can at least do those. So you don't go backwards, stay where you are, and get those little jobs done. You let things tick over nicely. And then when you start to feel a bit more positive again, then you can kind of go okay, I feel a bit more ready now. But if you do not finish it, by all means, leave it. What do you think Lesley?

Lesley 16:43 
I couldn't agree more because the thing is about decluttering, as you've said, you've called it being in the mood, actually involves a lot of focus. That's why as part of our decluttering one of the things is we talk about preparing your mind and preparing your body. This is not something that you can just suddenly randomly say, yes, I want to do that. You need to prepare for it. And so it does involve a lot of focus. 

Even if I'm working with a client, if they rang me and said, you know what, I've had a really bad night, not feeling great, my anxiety is through the roof, feeling a little bit down today. Normally, I would say, let's leave it until a day when you feel a little bit better about yourself. So under normal circumstances decluttering is not something that you need to be doing yet when you're on a down day. Of course, sometimes it can make you feel better about yourself as well. If it does, push yourself into that place where you do a little bit, but you need to understand the way that you work. 

I think you're absolutely right. What we don't want is we don't want your house to slip back. You know, we're in our homes, we can't really go anywhere else. And so we need to make sure that our homes are working well for us. So don't let those daily routines slip. Make sure you make your bed every day, do the washing up, as Ingrid said, keep on top of the laundry, keep on top of the ironing and small wins just to make sure things are ticking along nicely. Because it's easy sometimes, isn't it, when no one else is coming in to let those standards slip because you think well, who cares? Because no one else will see it apart from me. So it's important to try and keep on top of those things, too. 

But absolutely, if you don't want to do any decluttering, there is absolutely no reason for you to have to do that at the moment, but it's there for you if you do want to do it. And there are many people out there who do want to do it. Even if you're feeling a little bit down about things, they still have got this sort of niggling thing at the back of your mind saying I really, really want to make these positive steps forward during lockdown, but I'm struggling. So what's our advice to people who think you know what, yes, I do want to do a bit. Give me some advice on how I can start and how I can make this work when I'm not feeling 100%

Ingrid 18:39 
Well, I think what is really important it make your jobs and your goals really small. We all have a tendency to say, I'm going to declutter the whole room. I'm going to sort out my whole loft. I'm going to tackle my whole kitchen. That, even in normal circumstances is already too far too big of a goal. So start breaking down the project into small, small, small bits and make them even smaller than usual. So normally you might say, okay, I'm going to have a look at my kitchen and today I'm going to do all my cutlery and all my utensils. I've broken my kitchen down into small projects and cutlery and utensils is on my list of things to do today. I would say, during this time, if you're trying to get some almost decluttering mojo back, say, I'm going to do my cutlery. And I'm going to do my teaspoons today. That's how small I'm talking about here. And then say tomorrow, I'm going to look at my knives and the next day I'm going to look at my forks. And the day after I'm going to look at my utensils, I'm only going to look at my wooden spoons. And the day after I'm going to look at my other my pasta strainers and that's how small I mean by breaking down the project. So you can almost give yourself that little pat on the back and go, yay. I wasn't up for anything. But I looked at my teaspoons today, so I am doing something positive and really celebrate those wins. What do you think Lesley?

Lesley 20:19 
Exactly what you're saying because it's important to make those goals small. And then if you think, you know what, that wasn't so painful, I can do more than my teaspoons. And then you achieve your teaspoons and forks, and you've done twice as much as you intended. And celebrating your wins feels better because you've done more than you expected rather than less. And so it's really really really important to break this right down to something super, super small.

Ingrid 20:47 
Yes, and I love a list, Lesley, I do love a list. So maybe you can make a little list for yourself. It can be a piece of scrap paper that you can actually scratch through when you've done it. Yes, I want to look at my Tupperware and I want to look at my mugs, and I want to look at my cutlery and I'm going to look and break that down, and then cross it through or take it off the list. And that way you feel positive about it, instead of thinking, Oh, well, I made a goal of decluttering my whole kitchen and now haven't even done anything yet. So I think it's your mindset that might want to change a little bit.

Lesley 21:34 
Yeah, and you know, what's also really good thing to do. If you've already done a job that morning, write it on your list and then cross it off so it looks like you've done even more! Do you ever do that? Even if you've already done five things, write down these are my goals for today. Write them down and cross them out straight away. Check me out. Look how many things I've done!Oh 

Ingrid 21:59 
Oh that's awesome - ticking off things that you've already done. I do that all the time. I seriously do it on my personal list or my work list, I'm thinking, oh, oh, I've done that. But it wasn't on my list. Let me write it down. This makes me laugh so much, because it's really, really true. I do that all the time. I think also, maybe, maybe if you want to make a little list and maybe go, these are my five things, empty the bins do the washing up. And so you can cross them off, you know, you have to do every day. But there's something about crossing off things from a list that is so satisfying.

Lesley 22:39 
Exactly. So ideally, when you're making your list,don't just put 10 things on that you've already done. Also try to put something on the list that you've not done yet. But you know, if you want to feel good about yourself, just write 10 things you already did that morning and it's fine. Crazy times crazy measures!

Breaking things down into these really small chunks. That was our advice, on the live Q&A, wasn't it? It's just understanding your own goals. So we talk all the time about smart goals. Now, if you haven't heard about smart goals, they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. So just to whizz through those quickly. 

Specific - today, I am going to declutter and organise my teaspoons.

Measurable - you can measure that because you can see how many teaspoons you have before in the drawer and after so you can say whether or not you've done that.

Achievable - yes, it certainly is achievable for most people that day. As long as you're feeling up to it.

Realistic - is it a realistic goal for today? Something like that probably is realistic if you're feeling okay, because it's only a five minute job. 

Timely is the one that's tricky at the moment because is it the right time? So if it's not the right time for you, jumping back to what we were saying at the beginning, leave that goal for another day.

Ingrid 24:00 
And we did a really good podcast last week, didn't we, Lesley, about what you can declutter now the charity shops are closed. So if you're thinking to yourself, okay, well, the kitchen is not going to be really helpful because I know there's a lot of stuff in there that I want to bring to the charity shop, listening to the podcast that we did last week, with loads of suggestions of items you could have a look at, that will not create bags and bags full of stuff, but all kinds of smart options for you to do now that you can't bring your items away.

Lesley 24:33 
And the nice thing about some of those is if you feel , I've not even got enough get up and go to get up off the sofa. I'm just sitting there watching TV, which is perfectly fine. A lot of these little decluttering tasks can be done simultaneously while sitting on the sofa because they're digital. You can scroll through your phone and get rid of contacts, for example, that we were talking about last week. So listening to last week's podcast, it was the infamous episode at which we recorded three or four times. So Episode 80 that we did last week, I can't believe we've got on to 81 impressive, isn't it? As I say we have. So how many times have we done Episode 81? 

Ingrid 25:10 
Three times. And now Episode 81 this is the second version. We had one completely lined up ready to go. It's not gonna happen. I think we've moved it to next week, Lesley, so we need to record a new intro. Yeah, we've moved it to next week until next week, when we come up with another idea of what we can do! 

Lesley 25:33 
Anyway, we love recording podcasts so we just record them over and over. Anyway, so hopefully that's been a little bit helpful. I hope it's not being too negative, because we don't like to be negative really. But I think it's really important for us to be realistic. And these are very strange times and we are all dealing with them in very different ways. Do not feel guilty because other people are doing loads and loads of positive things. And you feel like you should be doing that. If you're not up for it, leave it. You need to look after yourself. You need to exercise self care. And self care looks different to different people.

Ingrid 26:10 
Yeah, for sure. And you know what, maybe you can speak to a couple of your friends more on the telephone because you're all at home and you've got more time to chat. And maybe that's actually a really good thing. I feel that although I'm not doing any decluttering I feel that having those connections with other people is really enriching my life. Oh, you know what, I want to do something positive, reach out to a family member or a friend that you haven't spoken to in a long time. And maybe you can write them a little card or just phone them up or send them a WhatsApp. I think those those human connections are really, really important now so and maybe you said yourself, yeah, I am going to give myself a reward. I'm going to call my friend and be with her on the phone for half an hour and have a nice little chinwag. And that's my reward for for doing a tiny little decluttering job. 

Lesley 27:09 
Can I just pull you upon one little thing that you said Ingrid?

Ingrid 27:12 
Yes.

Lesley 27:14 
You said you had not done any decluttering - now that is a fib. Because in lockdown you have done Max's bedroom and Anne's bedroom, the under stairs cupboard, the sewing basket, just that I remember. What else have you done? Why did you say no? Because, basically, we have to continue decluttering because we have to record videos for our membership. And so we're decluttering like crazy!

Ingrid 27:50 
I don't really I don't think I realised I said it that way. I think it meant more that maybe our listeners are not doing any decluttering

Lesley 27:58 
Well, we'll see. We'll see how it comes out in the edits!

Yes, yes, yes. But yes, Lesley, I have been doing a bit of decluttering. Because I think maybe it's my way of dealing with the situation and it makes me feel good. So maybe I've done a bit more decluttering than normal, because I know it makes me feel good when I do. So, Lesley, thanks so much for outing me. I don't think I said I didn't do any decluttering. So in the edited version of this podcast, we'll listen in and see exactly what I said about decluttering or not.

But the one thing that you that you failing to see is that I'm the one that does the editing. So I will edit it so that I'm right. 

So now, we do have one request for you all. So this is Episode 81, we've done 81 podcasts, which I know lots of you are loving. And so I'm saying please, please, please, please, please, can you leave us a review? Can you share the podcast. We want more people to listen. Those reviews are absolutely critical to where we rank in the charts. Yeah, there are podcast charts and we're in them and we do okay, but we really want to do better don't we?

Just a little one to say what you enjoy about the podcast, whether you like listening to Ingrid and I, whether you like the topics. If you found a podcast that really resonated with you, please leave us a review. You can do on our website, if that's where you listen to our podcast, or you can do it in your podcast player, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and I Heart Radio. It really, really will make a massive difference to what we're doing. So pretty please that you do that for us. 

Ingrid 29:34 
So yes, listeners, we've now done three really interesting podcasts all about decluttering during lockdown. So even if your friends are not into decluttering, maybe they are thinking, you know what we're all at home, we are tackling a few little areas in and around our houses. Share our podcasts on social media as well so your friends and your family can have a listen to us as well. 

So listeners basically we are just saying be kind to yourself. Hang in there. Thanks for listening and we are really, really happy you're here and we can inspire you and motivate you during these really strange times. If you'd like to get more tips and advice, please follow us on social media. We are on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as @declutterhub, and we've got a lovely supportive Facebook group called the Declutter Hub Community. Come and find us there and join in the fun. And if you'd like to know more about our membership, have a look at members.declutterhub.com if you don't want to miss the next weekly episode, subscribe to the Declutter Hub Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and iHeartRadio. And it will pop into your notifications each Friday. See you next time.

Outro 30:47 
Thanks for listening to this week's episode of The Declutter Podcast. Check out declutterhub.com for more inspiration. Don't forget to tune in next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


If you'd like to step up your decluttering and would like more input from Ingrid and I,  come and take a look at our membership options, our courses and our 8 week bootcamp. More information is available in our shop. If you have any questions, do let us know!

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  • Ann says:

    Hi Lesley & Ingrid,
    I was out of my Decluttering mood for the past 4 weeks, having to deal with a relative in hospital. During this Coronovirus Pandemic it’s extremely difficult not having access to relatives, trying to speak to medical staff on the telephone. I seem to have spent 3-4 hours each day just making calls. Today I decided to listen to your Podcast 81 When your Motivation to Declutter has gone. I am starting afresh tomorrow and plan going back to look at my Boot camp notes and tweek the sections to fit my needs.
    So thank you for re-inspiring me once more.
    Ann M 😊📖🌷🏋🏽‍♀️🤹🏼‍♀️

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