As long as I can remember, we have cleaned our home on a Friday evening. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Our Friday nights aren’t exactly rock ‘n’ roll. And I’d certainly prefer to be out on a SUP on the ocean, as the sun goes down.
But here’s the thing. Cleaning on a Friday evening means that we come downstairs on a Saturday morning to surfaces that are clean and shiny, with everything looking as good as it can.
Our weekly ritual
This weekly ritual, which is aided by the fact that I am able to finish work at 4 p.m. on the final working day of the week, has become a part of our family routine.
Sometimes, if we are really exhausted, we’ll do some of the cleaning on a Saturday morning. But the point of this habit means that our future selves (in this case, our ‘next day selves’) are always glad when we’ve done it.
Doing something for your future self is incredibly rewarding, but it does – of course – mean applying discipline at the time.
Consider something like exam preparation and revision. This is particularly close to our hearts, as our daughter’s GCSE examinations are now only a few short months away. When the pull of friends caused a conflict in her mind one Sunday afternoon recently (when she hadn’t completed all of her work), we gently reminded her that her future self would thank her for the extra effort she devoted in the present.
Paying it forward… for yourself
The same applies to many areas of our lives such as weight loss and fitness; saving (or not spending); and even decluttering and creating space in our lives.
I have written before about overcoming inertia, but the idea of doing something for your future self provides a little bit of extra motivation.
But how to get started, if you’re a long way from where your future self would like to be?
Ten top tips
If the goal is to get on top of the clutter once and for all, consider these top tips. Of course, they also apply to other goals you might have established:
1. Start small. As I wrote for my article published on Becoming Minimalist, start with somewhere like your closet. A wardrobe is akin to having a ‘room within a room’. Opening up that space and seeing all the clothes you love (arranged beautifully on hangers if that’s your thing) will spur you on.
2. Get an accountability partner or even employ a personal organiser. You could join an online group, such my Minimalism and Simple Living group in Better, to chat to others who are facing the same challenges as you.
3. Make it fun. Try one of the strategies I wrote about in my Unclutter series last year. Lots of people take photos of their ‘minimalism game’ hauls, as they progress through the 31-day challenge.
4. Make a mood board (either actual or virtual) to inspire you towards a simpler, less-cluttered home. Display it somewhere you can see for daily inspiration.
5. Take inspiration from some of the best-known writers, bloggers and podcasters on the subject (see my Community Resources page if you’ve signed up – Join the Community below). I listen to a podcast daily, as I travel into work. Hearing a solid, consistent message on a topic that you’re interested in enables you to educate yourself and provides inspiration to help you remain focussed on your goals.
6. Do good, feel good. Remember that, by removing the excess in your own life, you may enrich the lives of others by providing them with an opportunity to enjoy something that’s new to them.
7. Give yourself a deadline or a series of mini milestones. If you know someone is coming round to collect a bag of clothing, for example, you’re more likely to have it ready for them.
8. Promise yourself a treat when you’ve completed a particular goal, such as a good cup of coffee at your favourite cafe or a browse in the library.
9. Take baby steps. Any bit of progress is a step towards your goal, no matter how small.
10. Let go of perfect. You may not achieve a 100% clutter-free space (especially as you can’t declutter other people’s stuff) but you will reap the benefits, no matter how far towards your ideal state you get.
Just remember, your future self will thank you.
So, what will you choose to do today?
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