How To Motivate Yourself To Clean

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Sometimes the mess is overwhelming and you don’t even know where to begin. Other times you are tired of the repetitiveness, you clean the same areas again and again, always putting away the same stuff. Then there are those taxing decisions, some areas are a mess because we just do not know what to do with the stuff. Even if you have some ideas of what to do with the stuff your ideas take decision making, and actions that need to be executed before you can put the stuff where it belongs.

It’s no wonder that many individuals struggle with having a desire to clean and dread the thought of cleaning. Not only is beginning the task of cleaning dreadful but the act itself is typically a challenge, I mean let’s face it, if the stuff was easy to put away it would have been put away to begin with.  Learning to organize areas so the tidiness or cleanliness of the area is easy to maintain is not something that comes naturally to most, but rather a skill that needs to be learned. If you are looking for how to better organize areas or stuff in your home be on the lookout for the upcoming posts: Maintaining The Clutter, Easy Entryway Storage Solutions, Organizing The Extracurriculars, and Wrangling Clutter Under The Bathroom Sink.

Two of the biggest challenges to overcome when being unmotivated to clean is starting to clean and to not overthinking the process of cleaning. Honestly, the first step is always the hardest but even after you get started it is a constant battle to not become so overwhelmed that you shut down. There are several options you can do to overcome the hump to start to clean and several options to help you not overthink the process, and eliminate getting overwhelmed before you even start. 

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Let’s begin with starting to clean.

To help yourself overcome the challenge of starting to clean use a trigger that prompts you to start.  Four tools to prompt you to start cleaning are shown below.

1. An alarm on your phone calendar that tells you it’s time to clean.

2. Get help from another human being. That’s right, ask a family member or friend to come over and help you stay focused on cleaning. 

3. Use entertainment to prompt you to start cleaning. 

For example, you can turn on your favorite tunes, and when the music starts it is time for you to clean.  

Or you can dedicate a show to your cleaning, that’s right turn on your favorite comedian or Tidying Up With Maria Kondo, and if the show is on then you need to be cleaning. Obviously if you plan to use the show as a starting point to clean be certain that you have enough self control to focus on cleaning and not have the show as a distraction that leads to procrastination. 

4. Another option to prompt you to clean is setting a start time and expected duration for cleaning. For example, you need your home cleaned before noon on Saturday and you know it will take you at least 2 hours to clean up all the rooms in your home. In that scenario you have to start cleaning by 10 to finish at noon, so 10AM is your start time and noon is your finish line. 

5. Take the neverending tediousness out of cleaning.Start cleaning with a focus on a very small particular area to not overwhelm yourself at the thought of cleaning. Some small particular areas for different rooms in your home are listed below.

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  • Entryway: Focus on a 1ft x1ft area in your entryway.  This can be a portion of your floor or a benchtop or table that has clutter on it. If it is a small table, like an end table that is only about 1ft x 1ft in size, maybe focus on a 3 inch x 3 inch space to begin with.
  • Kitchen: Focus on half of a counter space or the table, once you finish putting away items from that half of the counter or table move to the other half of the surface you are cleaning off. Don’t look at it as cleaning the kitchen, look at it as tidying up a small surface.
  • Living Room: Focus on a coffee table surface, if you get that one surface tidied up you are well on your way to cleaning a living room.  If you have a craft or toy area, focus on small sections of those areas at a time like a 1ft x 1ft area. Then slowly work your way through the area 1 foot at a time.
  • Bathroom: For the bathroom there are options. You can plan to start cleaning the counter surface area, or the toilet, or the bathtub, or straightening up towels or dirty clothes.  Any one of those areas or items in the bathroom are terrific starting points to not overwhelm yourself with the entire bathroom at once.

Now that we have strategized how to get started with cleaning I do want to share my personal struggle with cleaning with you, and the go to tools I utilize to motivate myself to clean. Hopefully you will find some tools in my toolkit that helps motivate you to clean.

You see, I am what I call an inspired cleaner.  In general I am not a tidy organized individual, but when I know company is coming I go insane cleaning everything and everywhere. I also tidy up of course when things are out of control.  In times like this I used to always call my sister or a close friend, and have them keep me company while I ran around all crazy.  Somehow their company kept me energized and focused on my task.  Since moving out of state though, I don’t have anyone to call and keep me company while I complete my mundane chores.  

Below is listed the tools and habits you can use to stay focused and energized when cleaning by yourself or with your children. 

Tools to Stay Motivated

1. Music is a must for me, tunes keep me energized for far longer.  If you find a small task to try to complete before a song ends, listening to music can keep you motivated and not overwhelmed for quite some time. Below is my personal list of Pandora Channels that keep me motivated/focused while cleaning.

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  • Disney (my favorite from this channel for cleaning is Tangled: When Will My Life Begin, it’s what I wish cleaning was like, a multitude of chores done in less than 15 minutes, it makes me laugh and yet it motivates me)
  • Defying Gravity (This channel plays a lot of tunes from musicals)
  • Spice Girls (Some great pop songs from back in the day, what can I say. This channel also creates dance outbreaks for me, where I can’t help but sing and dance with a tune)

2. Invite friends over on a regular basis to keep yourself motivated.  I find that if I know someone is coming over I need to tidy up before they get there. Below are strategies based on how much time you have before your guest arrives.

If I know a couple weeks before our guest(s) will be here, I try to focus on conquering 1 or 2 big projects in the first week while maintaining my regular weekly chores. Some of the big projects that I prioritize are below.  After completing the big project I was stressed about I focus on strategy b, for when I have days before the guest arrives.

3. A drink. In particular I find caffeine to be a huge help, it refocuses us when we start to drift and gives us an extra bounce in our step when we start to become sluggish.  So try to have your favorite caffeinated drink on hand. I usually make a Starbucks run prior to getting started, but a nice cup of homemade iced tea or even a Gatorade for those who prefer non caffeine drinks work just fine.

4. Schedule Cleaning. That’s right, put it in your calendar like it is a date you are meeting with someone for, block the time off. The more regularly you clean the less there is to clean, and the more regularly you clean the less cleaning seems like a chore as opposed to just an exercise out of habit.

Big Projects to Work On Over A Matter of Weeks

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1. Spare room (that I shove everything in).  I only make this a priority if the guest is going to be spending the night using that room.

2. Out of control clutter.  This took me a long time to recognize.  My family has a lot of clutter because we are not great at putting things away. However after years of maintaining a home and family, yes it took me years, I started to recognize clutter that was all over the place because we did not have a good place to put them away.  Take the time to organize spaces so they have a place for everything you want to keep in the space.

3. Our yard, the leaves, sticks, acorns, mowing, it all seems like a full time job.

  • If I know days(2 to up to 7 days) before my guest is coming I have a daily routine.  Everyday I start with tackling the dishes, a load of laundry, and then try to tidy up one area a day, I start with my worst area first (usually our kitchen), and sometimes feel that I have to spend 1-3 days on this area depending on how much time I have.  Then break the remaining areas up in the days I have left over.

  • If I know someone is coming over within hours I just feel overwhelmed by it all.  When I get to this point I set timers and give myself 10 minutes per room.  It doesn’t get it all clean, but you can see a difference. Also, my son loves racing against time 😉 So, I have a great helper when racing as long as I give guided tasks!

At the end of the day a clean home helps reduce stress and maximize the good times. So make a resolution next year to reduce the stress in your life by becoming more organized or keeping your home clean as a priority on your schedule. 
To help not spend weekends driving yourself crazy with housework check out Make The Most of Your Weekend With A Master Routine.

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