I have been trying to de-clutter for years. I'll be successful in cleaning an area, a room and keep it straight for a couple of days and seemingly while I sleep, the area gets cluttered again, and I am "starting all over." How do I develop the little habits of continually picking up after myself?
I bet gnomes come in and clutter everything up while you sleep.
They're wily those gnomes.
Don't think of being organized as an "it's done and over" thing. It's much more like weight loss and maintenance. If I take a week-long spa retreat and eat beautiful healthy foods and work out, I can't just at the end come home and think I'm done. My life is set now. If I don't maintain healthy habits then my body won't be healthy.
Without developing habits to maintain the decluttering work, it'll come back. Existence of gnomes or not.
The good news is you don't have to continually pick up after yourself. (Although high fives if you do!) Simply put everything back where it belongs and "reset" your home once a day and you'll be good.
To help remember and create this habit, set a daily reminder to pick up. With time and practice, it will become a permanent habit and second nature.
Sometimes you'll miss a day, and that's fine. Happens to all of us. Try not to go longer than 48 hours without picking up. And even when you do slip and things become messier than usual, don't beat yourself up about it. Simply straighten things back up, and keep going.
Good luck! You can do it!