If you’re a visual sort of person, clutter probably bothers you—but being appalled by it may not necessarily make it any easier to clean up. If you are having a hard time getting motivated, try this little trick that taps into the universal obsession with a good before-and-after pic. 

Take before and after photos as you clean

This tip comes from Becoming Minimalist and is really simple on the surface: Pick a small section of your home, like a countertop or junk drawer, and snap a picture of it. Then, clean it up. Just focus on the small area you photographed. Once you’re done, take a new picture and compare the two. 

Do this any time you have a few minutes to dedicate to a minor cleaning task, so the pics are right next to each other in your camera roll. When you can see the difference just by swiping between the two photos, you’ll feel motivated to keep going. Without the pictures, it can be hard to remember what the mess even looked like, so you won’t stay as motivated to clean or keep it clean. You need a reminder of where you’ve been to get where you’re going.

Why this works

Like other popular decluttering techniques, this one asks you to work in short bursts and on smaller spaces. That’s important, especially if you feel overwhelmed when you consider the volume of how much you actually have to clean up. If you frame your organizing in terms of “I have to clean my house,” it’s going to feel like too much, but if you think, “Today, I have to clean the bathroom cabinet,” that’s a lot easier. 

I tried this last weekend when I cleaned and organized my makeup, which is as task I haven’t done in… well, a really long time. The “before” photo didn’t really shock me much in isolation, but once I had an “after” photo to compare it to a few hours later and I was able to see the difference when I swiped between them, I was really stunned. While I was cleaning, I got used to the new, organized look, so by the time I was finished, I was happy enough with it, but not super thrilled, since I couldn’t really remember what it had looked like earlier, anyway. The tangible proof in the pictures was rewarding and motivated me to move on swiftly to the shelf I reserve for hair tools and clips. 

You want to do this pretty quickly so you don’t lose steam, so make sure you have some baskets on hand where you can sort items into four categories: Keep, toss, donate, and sell. Don’t spend a lot of time debating on what you should keep, either. (If you need help deciding whether or not to keep something, try this related technique.) Your goal is to move swiftly from “before” to “after” so you can see the results of your work and feel motivated to keep grinding.