There’s a story (disputably) attributed to Jerry Seinfeld.
Back when Jerry was still touring as a comic, a young, aspiring comic asked him for advice. Allegedly, Jerry told him to put a giant calendar on his wall and to put a red X over every day he wrote some jokes.
“After a few days,” Jerry said, “You’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” source
Don’t Break the Chain
This anecdote has become the basis of all kinds of “Don’t Break the Chain” applications.
- Meditate every day using the Headspace app, and you can watch your streak grow. But once you miss, the count starts over. (Don’t break the chain!)
- Video game creators release tools and weapons that you can only obtain if you’re online that day, which encourages you to play daily so as not to miss any updates. (Don’t break the chain!)
- Some fitness apps show a graph of all the days you worked out, making you regret the days you missed and determine not to miss any more. (Don’t break the chain!)
The simple truth is that the strategy works.
Whenever I have something I’d like to change in my life, I think about whether I could apply habit tracking. Recently, when I wrote my first book (The Minimalist Way—Check it out! ?), I wrote each day’s word count on a calendar next to my desk, and I found so much satisfaction—not to mention motivation—in tracking my progress.
Could This Tactic Apply to Decluttering?
If one of your goals this year is to simplify your living environment—to get rid of the excess and simultaneously make space in your life for the things that really matter—tracking your progress and building up a good streak might be the motivation you’ve been needing.
How you do that is totally up to you. You could decide to find three items to donate every day for an entire month month, checking each day off on your calendar as you go. Or you could go wild and vow to get rid of 2,021 items in 2021!
My approach happens to be somewhere in the middle—365 things in a year. 😉
For decluttering, I don’t think it’s essential that the clutter-clearing be continuous—that you not miss a day. I find it just as empowering to simply check off a box for every item I send out of the house and to watch my streak grow.
There’s power there.
The 365 Declutter: A Decluttering Habit Tracker
I took a bit of the work out it for you by creating a PDF you can print and fill out as you go! (Oh and if you get on a real roll, you can always print out a second one after you fill out the first!) Good luck; you’ve got this!
Habit tracking is one of the 10 strategies I share in my list of 10 Clutter-Clearing Strategies that Will Gradually Make Your Life 100 Times Easier. If you’re determined to beat clutter this year, click to read the rest!