Get Started

I know what works in theory.  The Time Budget makes perfect sense.  Scheduling my day makes perfect sense.  Prioritizing makes perfect sense.  Staying away from distractions makes perfect sense!  Setting tangible goals and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces makes perfect sense.  If I know it all (ha ha!) then my home should be free of clutter and always company ready by now, right?


Knowing what works doesn’t make the execution any more fun.  This morning, on a whim (I think it was a Leap Year thing), I decided to do what I’ve been saying I’ll do for months.  And I even promised on Facebook to share photos.  That is correct, I have no pride. 

Bedroom dresser and nasty corner stuffed full of who knows what – BEFORE.

Bedroom dresser and empty corner, minus all the stuff which has been put away, thrown away, or stowed in the consignment box for the next trip to town – AFTER.  (Oh, look.  I even made the bed!)

It’s a start, right?  I’m not finished cleaning out the bedroom, but oh, it felt good to make some serious headway today!  My secret?  I started. 

When things get out of hand, whether it be clutter, debt, or an unhealthy lifestyle, sometimes the hardest part of undoing the damage is getting out of the starting blocks. 

Once you’re there, once you take that first intimidating step, the momentum often takes over and between celebrations you wonder Why on earth didn’t I do this sooner?!  (Unless that’s just me…)

To help you get started:

1.  Forget the Other Stuff.

I don’t know about you, but if I wait until the stars align and my living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom are all presentable, blog posts are written, and dinner is planned and ready, I’ll never get to the clutter in the bedroom.  Never.  That other stuff?  All those rocks that fill your jar?  They’ll still be there tomorrow, and everything will get done, in time.

I say leave the crumbs on the floor and serve leftovers for dinner, or {gasp} reward yourself with takeout.  You know what’s funny?  I ignored all those other rocks today while I worked on the bedroom for a couple of hours, and lo and behold, they somehow got done anyway!  How about that ?!

2.  Fear Schmear.

Fear of failure is no reason to not shoot for the moon!  It makes zero sense to me to waller around in an “I’ll do the best I can and we’ll just see what happens” wishy-washy state.  (And yet, I’m caught in the act over and over.)  Get over yourself.  So what if you blow your budget in month 1?  At least you set one!  That’s a step forward.  Take a step!  Trade your candy bar for an apple.  Clear off your desk.  Determine a “play money” budget for the month.

And if you fall?  If you fail?  Get up, brush yourself off, and try it again.

3.  Set a Timer.

If the idea of scratching everything to work on one project all day long is intimidating (it is to me!) then don’t.  Set a timer.  Knowing “the end is near” can help us race strong to the finish line.  If you’re setting goals, make them short-term.  Drawing up a budget?  Give it a one month trial run.

Great things can happen in a limited period of time!

Antique cedar chest – BEFORE.  Yes, it’s under there.  I promise.

Cedar chest – AFTER.  Look how pretty!  It was my grandma’s, and my mom redid it for me as a college graduation present.  (You do not see the box of stuff in the background.  Another day…)

Seriously, now, why did I wait this long?!  (More before and after to come, once I get to the after part.)

What’s holding you back?  What’s keeping you from The Start?  Let’s do this!


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  1. Great post (as always!)! I have several spots that look like your before pictures. This post gives me the desire to fix that tomorrow (cause now I’m going to bed!)! Thanks again, Amy, for encouraging and inspiring me!

  2. Christina says:

    This week I actually started decluttering. My garage took me at least 6 hours today. My back is stiff, but there is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment! My next step is to turn my clutter into cash by having a garage sale. I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. I’m so happy to know my bedroom isn’t the only one that looks that way!! 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration to take the first step!

  4. Starting is always the hardest part! When it comes to cleaning, my biggest issue with not starting is that I know the kids are going to tear the place down before I can even turn around. It’s like an uphill battle. Whew.

    • I know exactly what you mean! I have a 1 year old girl, and three boys that are 3, 4 and 5 years old! I think of it as taking three steps forward and 2 steps back when I focus on a certain area to organize because my attention is not 100% focused on them and so we all know that a child left unto himself bringeth his mother to shame =) I expect to see a mess in their room while I work on something else but that’s okay because I have made it 1 step forward =)

    • Ah, yes. At least I can walk in my bedroom now, though, and enjoy it. They haven’t torn THAT up yet. I do dread working on their rooms, though…

  5. Thanks so much for posting those pictures! It shows you’re REAL. 🙂 Love that.

  6. Such a beautiful cedar chest. I wanted one for a long time, we found one on Craigslist and used and loved it for 4+ years, and then we moved into our current place and had to get rid of it because we had no room. One day. One day…

  7. So true!! On days when I’m not feeling motivated to do anything, if I force myself to do something small like wash dishes or start a load of laundry, I tend to keep going! Just getting started has a snowball effect!

  8. Love it! I’m spring cleaning this month and will be sharing on my facebook page what I’m working on each day. Hmm..maybe I’ll do some before and after pics, too!

  9. I love the part: “You know what’s funny? I ignored all those other rocks today while I worked on the bedroom for a couple of hours, and lo and behold, they somehow got done anyway! How about that ?!”

    To me, this is key. It takes courage to push yourself to test the hypothesis that there IS enough time, so long as you TAKE the time and focus on what needs done. I’ve learned this at work (away from home), and it has really carried over into my homelife as well.

  10. Debbie Jennings says:

    I don’t know that I could ever show a picture of my clutter corner. (It’s actually the hubby’s papers.)
    My daughter taught me (yes, old dogs can learn new tricks!), to make a list of 10 things to do, as in clean the coffee table, pick up papers, one room at a time. Take a basket with you and if you see something that is just a dust catcher, put it in the basket. If you miss it, put it back, if not get rid of it. I did this for a while and then for some reason stopped. Now, it is time to get back to it! Declutter one room at a time. Now the question is, which room to start with. LOL

  11. That is exactly why I started my Anti-Procrastination challenge on my blog this year! I was always waiting for the perfect time to get that drawer cleaned out, sew that button on, clean out the fridge, whatever. The perfect time never comes because there are always more dishes to wash, laundry to do, and floors to sweep. You just have to start on what’s bothering you! The rest of my housework has somehow been getting done in spite of it all! I believe the reason for that is that I’m doing things that are giving me more visible proof of productivity for the day and it encourages me to keep going!

  12. I have been following other blogs with this same theme this month and I have to say I like yours the best. You are not presenting yourself as just shy of perfect and asking the world to rise to your standards. You are real. Real clutter, real life, real struggle. I LOVE IT!!! We are all just trying to do the best we can. Great advice and thank you for making me feel normal instead of just not good enough, because just not good enough is not much of an inspiration.

  13. Amy, great job! I am the same way in this. Getting started is the hardest part. I am always waiting for the PERFECT time to do it ALL, so I end up doing nothing. Not a good strategy. Thanks for the encouragement today.

  14. I am a procrastinator, so this post really hit home with me. Often if I just start, then the process takes over and I keep going or at least have the momentum to work on it over a span of time until it is done. Starting for me is often the hardest part. Plus I am one of those all or none type of gals. If I can’t declutter the whole house, or completely finish redecorating, have the entire house spotless and clean, etc. etc. I don’t want to even start. But I am learning that having something, anything done is better than doing nothing at all! 🙂

  15. What an inspiring post! I agree that once you get going you get motivated to do more. I’ve often asked myself why it’d taken me so long to start/finish a project.

    I think many times as we read blogs we think the writer is perfect. Thank you for showing us that we’re not alone and that we all have stuff to work on (mine being my dirty bathroom).

  16. Jennifer Young says:

    Great job! Honestly, I think getting started is the easy part. It’s the maintaining that takes all the work. I do the same thing. I get motivated and declutter and clean up tons of stuff. But, it’s back to looking the same a week later. I don’t know how to make it work when I’m the only one doing it, you know?

  17. Wow That is great! One of my goals for this year was to “improve home organization” This month I organized our “tool drawer” and so glad I did. It was in the garage so not really in my face everyday but I knew that is was there and that it was unorganized and I am so glad I got it over with =) You can scroll down to the bottom of this post to see before and after pics =)

  18. Your bedroom looks beautiful and very inviting. You have the key when you said just start. I am a software engineer, and every single project can look so intimidating at the beginning, and I frequently have to remind myself to just break it down into pieces. Break each piece down small enough, and the individual task becomes much easier if not very easy. The same concept applies for everything that you need to do. The struggle in life is to figure out what works for you on an ongoing basis rather than what works for someone else.

    • “The struggle in life is to figure out what works for you on an ongoing basis rather than what works for someone else.” Sure enough!

  19. Thank you for “real” pictures!!! I know I can pull it off. I’ve really been struggling in this area b/c I thought my house was so bad there was no point in starting. Apparently, most of the blogs I’ve seen lately have “staged” the before photos. Thanks again.

  20. O.K. i’ve already brought in the recycling bins moved the dining room table (it’s been bothering me), put my c.d. in to get me motivated. I also fed the dog. I Have four in school, three get home at 2:30 and one comes home at 4:00. You would think that I would get a lot done with my time. BUT I love hanging out on my computer. I need to prioritize a lot better.
    Thank you for the motovation, it was needed 🙂

  21. Love your antique chest! I have the same problem. Only, I leave things undone because I don’t have time to do them perfectly (major OCD). The past three weeks I decided to organize the entire house, purge, and finish all minor projects in the home in 30 days from Attic to basement. It’s amazing the junk we had and I’m pretty organized and purge regularly. I’m done with the clutter and tired of unfinished projects. I finished the attic and the upstairs floor after three weeks……So, 30 days will probably prove to be a little unrealistic, but it’s a goal and if I work on it everyday for a short amount of time, even if I reset it to 60 days, it’s worth it. My husband and kids have even jumped on the “band wagon” with me in this endeavor. Keep up the good work! There are times we fail miserably at meeting our goal, but the cause is never lost if we determine to get back up and accomplish that goal!

  22. Yay, Amy! So proud of you for tackling the bedroom.

    Doing respite care for the three and under crowd has made me dash madly around doing even more Simplifying and Baby Proofing. So now there’s a Small Basket of Blocks under the couch, not the bountiful, begging-to-be-dumped-strewn-and-sat-in basket of blocks.

    Your post inspires me to go in and tackle some more corners.

    Happy Sunshine to you today!

  23. I did not see the box of stuff in the background until you pointed it out! Great job on getting your dresser and hope chest cleared off. They look so wonderful and clutter-free!!! Yeah, Amy.

  24. You have no idea how much I needed to read this today! I have so many neglected areas to deal with! I was actually feeling motivated before I read this. Now I really feel like I can do little things every day till it’s all done. The mess didn’t happen over night, I’m not going to get it cleaned up over night. I just have to take it one step at a time and the huge 1st step is getting started! Thank you for the encouragement!

  25. I love your before and after pictures! I always take pictures before I do a good cleaning around my house. When I am done I do the after pictures and just sit there going back and forth between the two.

    You are so right about forgetting the other stuff. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the other stuff I cannot see the light even if it were right in front of my face! Now I am going to go clean off my dresser. I don’t remember the last time I saw the top of that thing!

    Thank you for the awesome inspiration today!

  26. Thanks for the honest photos and words! I think I’m a defeated perfectionist and that if it ALL can’t get done just so, I put it off until another day (or year). This was encouraging.

  27. Good for you! I’m in nesting mode right now but have put off scrubbing the shower and tub until it gleams so I tackled that yesterday. I think I spent about 2 hours on it (it was BAD!) but I spread it out in chunks of time that my uncomfortable pregnant body could handle. It was SO pleasant to shower this morning, and because it was already clean, I was motivated to wipe it down afterward with a microfiber cloth so it will hopefully stay clean until the baby comes…I figure taking less than a minute each day to wipe it well will be easier than a 2 hour scrub. And because I had the clean damp towel from the shower I wiped down the counter, too. I love it when one little thing leads to another little thing which leads to a refreshingly clean and tidy space. Next up: the kids’ equally grim bathroom.

  28. it always looks worse than it really is. I look and think I don’t want to spend all day doing that but in reality it only takes two hours tops.

  29. Yeah! Just what I needed today! I started (got 1/2 done) on deep cleaning our bathroom! Feels so good! Boy the starting really is the hardest part! LOL

  30. Acmommy3 says:

    Your room looks lovely, Amy! Thanks SO much for this post, it is just what I needed today! I’ve felt so much failure trying to do it all perfectly, and have just realized that wow, no one is perfect, life isn’t perfect…you just have to do your best & not stress about the rest & take time to enjoy your life & family!

  31. Loved this post! Thanks for sharing and including photos (you are very brave)! I definitely know what you mean about just getting started. I have often found that if I just get started on something then it motivates me to keep going. Thanks.

  32. I love these pictures! I use the One Thing (aka “Good Enough”) approach and just pick one thing that is nagging at me and take care of that. Recently it was a breakfront in the living room that had become, basically, a repository for CLOTHES and all kinds of other ridiculous things. It had been bugging me for 3 months but only took about half an hour to clean! What a sense of accomplishment!

  33. Doesn’t that feel great!?? I need to get to some cleaning up myself but I always find myself creating instead of cleaning!

  34. Great post! My 14-week nesting kick happened today (it happened with my first born too). My 16-month old got a special treat of watching his Veggie Tale Sing-A-Long movie for 30 minutes so I rotated the couch cushions (even vacuumed underneath them!), cleaned the dried fishy cracker finger prints from the pillows and back of the couch, hung up the clean laundry that was stacked next to my bed, hung some pictures on the wall and did a few other things that I had allowed to languish during my first trimester. I felt so good! There’s more to do, but today reminded me that I don’t have to do it all in one day. A little bit at a time is all it takes.

  35. Ha, I have to laugh, we just started nightly chores in our house last week…EVERYONE has a nightly chore to do….I am so tired living in a house full of itty bitty pigs…Why it took me so long to come around to the nightly chore list I don’t know, but the boys are thriving with it, now the girl…Well shes a teen and everything she does is drama…OH THE WORLD IS ENDING I HAVE TO SWEEP THE KITCHEN!!!

    • “full of itty bitty pigs” hahaha — I’ve come up with the chore lists, it’s the consistency that gets me every time. I’m a total scatterbrain.

  36. You are my hero. If you saw my house, you would know why. LOL I have a lot to START on… and four kids to duck tape to the wall while I get it done. 😉

  37. So often, I have to tell myself to ‘just start’ and ‘I’ll just give it 10 minutes’ and you know what? More times than not, I keep going until it is done and that task that I had been putting off for so long was not really as bad as I thought it would be! Having said that, my bedroom quite often ends up looking like that too, why is it that our bedroom is always the last place to tidy up?!

    Found you from the Organizing Junkie Favourite Organising Link Party 😀

    • Yes! I agree on both accounts. Yesterday I FINALLY started the disaster that is my girls’ room. Was in there for a total of 7 (on and off) hours. But SO GLAD I did it!


  1. […] Get Started I know what works in theory.  The Time Budget makes perfect sense.  Scheduling my day makes perfect sense.  Prioritizing makes perfect sense.  Staying away from distractions makes perfect sense!  Setting tangible goals and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces makes perfect sense.  If I know it all (ha ha!) then my home should be free of clutter and always company ready by now, right? […]

  2. […] No matter what task we are dreading, Amy encourages us to just Get Started! […]

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