The Best Apps That Keep You Motivated to Clean

The Best Apps That Keep You Motivated to Clean

For the past year, I’ve been on a decluttering and organizing journey, which I’ve been writing about, sharing all the useful techniques and tools that make this sort of thing easier. But I haven’t discussed one of the major factors that has helped me most: accountability. You can follow the advice of every pro organizer, buy storage bins for every little item you own, and schedule your cleaning down to the second, but sometimes you need an outside influence to keep you on track.

Cleaning accountability from other people

Last June, when I started my biggest decluttering effort to date, I knew I had to set up some kind of system of rewards and punishments or I’d lose steam. Here’s what I did:

  • I asked my friends to continue sending me memes and TikToks, but stop if I opened or responded to them before 10 p.m., the time I designated for stopping my cleaning and enjoying a “reward.” This worked because I knew that at 10 p.m. every night, I’d have a curated collection of funny stuff to look at as a treat, but I had to earn it. (This approach was really similar to the “animedoro” method, which allows you to enjoy one episode of a show after a predetermined amount of work.) 
  • Every week, I asked a new friend to come over on Saturday. I’d clean and declutter all week, knowing I had to, since someone would be coming over. Then, when they got there, I’d tell them they could pick five things—clothes, tchotchkes, whatever—to take home with them. Most major decluttering techniques center on making you categorize items as things to donate, things to throw away, and things to keep, so this was a way to fulfill more “donate” and less “toss.” 
  • If I was doing a big throwing-away day, I’d let a friend know early in the day and they’d text me periodically to ask for photos. Even knowing I’d have to prove my progress to people whose opinions I respect pushed me to fill my garbage bags. 

These are just the things I did and some were a little silly, but they were helpful to me. Accountability doesn’t have to be harsh, the punishments don’t have to be awful, and you don’t have to do much more than snap a few pics or send a few progress updates if you don’t want to, so use these examples to come up with similar approaches. Of course, mine depend largely on the involvement of my friends, who (luckily) were happy to help, but if you don’t want to drag other people into your decluttering, you still have options. 

Best apps for staying accountable while cleaning

There are some apps out there that can help you schedule your cleaning, but they still don’t do much for accountability. You can just… not use them! The benefit of getting your accountability checks from real people instead of apps is you can’t just turn real people off. Get the best of both worlds with apps that match you to a person.


FocusMate pairs you with an accountability partner in real time, allowing you to get matched with someone who’s also working on something. You can video chat, share what you’re working on, and use virtual “body doubling” to tap into the theory that people work harder when someone else is around them. You can work three times a week for free, but unlimited sessions run you US$9.99 per month.


Using Supporti is similar, but you get matched with a long-term partner who has similar goals. Every day, you chat through the app, sharing your progress and checking on theirs while mutually swapping feedback. You work together for a week, then get the chance to pick a new partner if yours isn’t working out—but if you both opt in, you stay together. It costs US$15.99 per month or US$129.99 per year. 

Other accountability apps

There are also apps you can use to monitor your own progress without involving anyone at all. Try Loop Habit Tracker, which offers the opportunity to track progress and maintain a schedule. You’ll get notifications when it’s time to work or check in and the more you enter into the app, the higher your Habit Score goes, gamifying the experience. It’s free for up to seven habits, but for more, you’ll pay US$9.99 per month. 

Finally, there’s Boss as a Service, which uses a novel approach that might not be best for everyone: It acts like a demanding boss, requiring proof that you’re making progress. You have to send in screenshots, photos, or any other kind of proof that you’re actually doing what you’re setting out to do, otherwise it sends you notifications relentlessly, harassing you just like an overbearing boss might. If you work best under pressure, give this app US$25 per month (or US$60 per quarter or US$200 per year) to provide you with a sense of urgency.

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