This Photo Trick Cures Clutter Amnesia!

My friend Jane (well, one of them…I have more friends named Jane than anybody I know…) is de-cluttering this weekend and texting me periodically with her progress. She writes: “So glad you taught me the photo trick. If not, I would be crying with frustration rather than feeling pleased with my progress!”

The “trick” she refers to is not actually something I had even tried to teach her. But it’s something I do with every client, which she has picked up on and is doing for herself. So what, exactly, is “The Photo Trick”? It’s the simple act of taking of Before and After photos.

In my Client Agreement I state the 3 reasons why I take Before and After photos. The important one here is #2: Before and after photos demonstrate progress and serve as motivation for both of us.

I asked Jane if she were really taking photos, or if she just remembers how she felt when we did it last time. She replied, “Oh, I need the actual photos. I am a very visual learner, coupled with a huge case of clutter amnesia. I am always stunned and thrilled by how great a clean car or house makes me feel, as if it’s happening for the first time.”

Clutter Amnesia. Can you relate?

Try it yourself:

1) Take a Before photo of the area you are planning to de-clutter and examine it. Do you notice anything that you didn’t “see” in person? Does the scene look worse (or better) than you thought? This is a good way to see your space as a guest might see it. And good motivation to get busy!

2) Work on de-cluttering your space for an hour. Or three. Or 15 minutes. It depends on how cluttered your space is, how much time you have scheduled, your physical and mental stamina, whether or not you have help, etc. Keep in mind that it didn’t get that way in a day, and you probably won’t be able to clean it up in a day, either. But don’t give up! Just work on it a little each day.

3) Take Mid-Project and After photos. Do you see the progress you’re making? Do you feel encouraged?

4) Keep the best, matched, Before and After pairs handy to remind you of your accomplishment. Print them out and post them on the wall if it helps you to maintain your space so that it doesn’t get that “bad’ again. If (and when) you backslide, use the photos to prove you can do it again!

Do you think this “trick” will work for you? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Click here to view client photo stories.

Copyright 2012 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Janet Barclay (@JanetBarclay) on August 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

    It’s true – things that are out of place really do stand out more in pictures. That’s why so many people take pictures of loved ones without noticing the dirty dishes, beer bottles, or other clutter surrounding them. I never thought of it as part of an organizing plan!

    • Hazel Thornton on September 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      I send my clients before and after photo cards at the end of a project, and sometimes mid-project, for encouragement. They love being reminded of their successes! (It’s so easy to forget how bad it was. Or, if they’ve backslid, it’s easy to forget how successful they were and could be again.)

      • Susan Hale on April 27, 2014 at 8:35 am

        I love the idea of sending the client a card at the end with the photos. Brilliant!

        • Hazel Thornton on April 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

          That reminds me, I have one or two I’d like to send today!

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