Decluttering "Before and After"...and "After After"....
When "before and after" pictures are shared, they usually show quite a drastic change. Completely renovated houses, substantial weight loss, and major decluttering all have that "wow" factor when you look at the "before and after" pictures, but what about after "after"?
After "after" is more commonly know as "maintenance". Maintenance is the key to long-term success, but is rarely ever celebrated and is probably the hardest part of the journey. Having a goal to obtain keeps you motivated to reach "after". Once you reach "after" where do you go from there? What's your motivation to keep "after"? Will you keep seeing drastic changes indefinitely? No, you'll keep seeing your success as long as you maintain it.
Maintenance can be a challenge for everyone. When you declutter a room, like the one pictured, you must change your behaviors/way of thinking or your room will slowly creep back to look more like "before". So, how do we do that?
Often times, we keep our success going by having an accountability partner; someone who will keep you in "after." Depending on your need, a friend, a family member, a counselor, or professional organizer all can be great external motivators. They can remind you of your goals, guide you, make suggestions and cheer you on for keeping your space uncluttered.
Be proud of your "After". Take pictures of "after" and frequently refer to them to quickly identify what doesn't belong in that space. This can help you and your family members remember what the space is supposed to look like and quickly identify what needs to be returned to it's proper home.
Creating routines AND sticking to them will also keep you in the "after". After you have assigned a home to everything in your house, remembering O-H-I-O, (Only Handle It Once) which will help you keep your house tidy. Take that extra second to completely put away an item in it's proper "home" the first time you set it down instead of placing it somewhere else or close enough, because "somewhere else" and "close enough" will start to collect other items and a piles will start to grow.
Routines should be quick and easy to follow. Use open baskets for easy clean up, store things where you use them and a nightly 5 minute tidy session will all work together to help you maintain "after", and remember, you need to work on "after" at the end of every day.
Setting your own rules and writing them down will also help to remind you of how to keep your home tidy. No clothes on the floor, flat surfaces are left clear, dishes done before bed are all great rules to follow. Use strategically placed sticky notes to remind you of your rules until they become habits.
Life happens and no one is perfect. If you have a set back, remember your original goal and strive for "after" again.