As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a slob. Cleaning is one of my least favorite activities in the world, and I get the urge to tidy up about as often as I get the urge to, oh, I don’t know, relive middle school. But over the course of the last year I’ve made a dedicated effort to get better at it, and slowly but surely, I’ve become a fairly consistent doer of chores. If you’re not naturally prone to neatness, you know how tough it can be to put away the dishes or pick up a duster. To help you out, here are five tips, tricks, and strategies that have helped me tackle that terrible, awful job called cleaning the house…
1. Set a timer. One of the main reasons I hate cleaning is that it feels like a never-ending process. As soon as I’ve put one thing away there’s dust on something else and as soon as I’ve folded something there are dishes to be washed. It’s really overwhelming and since I tend to focus on all the things I haven’t done instead of what I have done, I rarely feel like the job is finished or rewarding. The best solution for this problem? Budget a time, set a freakin’ timer, and clean your little heart out until it goes off. This strategy keeps me on task, forces me to clean for a consistent amount of time, and allows me to see exactly how much I can get done in a limited time span. You can use a kitchen timer, a stop watch, or make an upbeat music playlist and clean until it’s over.
2. Have a dance party. Speaking of upbeat music playlists, the best–if most cliche–way to inject some fun into your chores is to dance while you do them. Shake your booty while you dust the bookshelves. Practice your bellydancing while you unload the dishwasher. Pull a Tom Cruise in “Risky Business” while you fold the laundry. Bonus: you’ll burn extra calories!
3. Break it up into smaller jobs (very, very small jobs). I always thought this advice was kind of annoying until I tried it myself and realized it totally works. Basically you just turn your regular to-do list into a ridiculously specific and detailed task list. Like, instead of just writing, “Clean living room,” my to-do list might include: “Clear off coffee table, wipe down coffee table, dust bookshelf 1, dust bookshelf 2, dust TV, Swiffer floor, put away DVDs, fold blankets.” At first it seems ridiculous and overwhelming, but it actually demystifies the cleaning process, and trust me: once you start crossing off little jobs left and right, you’ll feel super productive and motivated.
4. Multitask. The good thing about cleaning (I never thought I’d write those words) is that most cleaning tasks don’t require your complete concentration. This means you can clean while you chat with your best friend on the phone, watch a favorite episode of “Seinfeld,” listen to a book on tape, or practice conjugating your French verbs. Cleaning sucks because it’s boring. Anything that can make it less boring is good.
5. Reward yourself. Maybe it’s my Taurus tendencies coming out, but I’m a strong believer in rewarding yourself for completing unpleasant tasks. If cleaning is an unpleasant task for you, make it worth it by rewarding yourself with a relaxing bath and a glass of wine, or set a monthly cleaning goal and treat yourself to a pedicure or a new pair of earrings when you reach it. A luxurious treat plus the satisfaction of a clean home will have you reaching for the vacuum in no time!
Alright readers, now it’s your turn. Any favorite cleaning tips to share? How do you stay motivated to get your household chores done?