A clean house has never been one of my primary goals. It’s not even in the top 10. I admit it would be nice to live in a spotless house, but who has the time or the motivation to keep it that way? It’s a fact of life that there are basic standards of cleanliness to maintain and I have found these tips work for me to stop procrastinating cleaning the house.
The secret to stop procrastinating cleaning your house
I’m a social person and over the years I’ve learned the most effective motivation for me to stop procrastinating cleaning the house is to invite someone over – for dinner, for a swim or just to hang out.
Yes, you heard that right!
If you are a procrastinator extraordinaire like me, then you probably work well under pressure and tend to rush around doing everything at the last minute. Extending an invitation to a guest is the motivation I need to get my butt in gear, stop procrastinating and clean the house.
Our house can be the messiest, most unorganized place during the week, with so many dog fur tumbleweeds on the floor you could craft a new puppy from them.
I’m exhausted after working all day, cooking and eating dinner, feeding and walking the dog and clearing the dinner mess. After all that, it’s time to RELAX, not clean!
My favorite way of relaxing is getting on the internet to connect with my friends and family. I sometimes get a little nostalgic and impulsively invite them to visit on the weekend.
Not next weekend which would leave me lots of time to get ready, but this weekend. I do this with the full understanding that I will NOT be accomplishing any cleaning goals before the weekend arrives. This happens a lot more than I like to admit.
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What is procrastination?
Let’s talk about procrastination for a few minutes. Procrastination is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something.”
The origin of the word Procrastinate is late 16th century from Latin procrastinat- ‘deferred till the morning’, from the verb procrastinare, from pro- ‘forward’ + crastinus ‘belonging to tomorrow’ (from cras ‘tomorrow’).
Why do we procrastinate?
“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”Gene Hayden
We tend to procrastinate anything we find unpleasant that we don’t really want to do. If you wanted to do it, you would. So, why don’t you want to do it? There could be many reasons, but the most common reasons for procrastination are:
- Fear of failure – why do it if you won’t succeed according to your or other’s expectations
- Fear of success – success involves responsibility, follow-up and maintenance – it is much easier to procrastinate and think “someday I will”
- Perfectionism – the belief that if you can’t do something perfectly perfect, you may as well not do it at all
There’s also plain old laziness, but I believe that most people want to do the things they need to do to be a productive member of society. But doing all those things makes you tired and you need to rest.
There’s only so much any one person can accomplish. It really can be exhausting and overwhelming when you think about it too much. So you don’t get past the thinking part.
Unfortunately, the more you avoid what needs to be done, the more anxiety and stress you create in your mind. This leads to more procrastination. It’s a never-ending cycle!
You don’t necessarily have to be highly motivated to stop procrastinating cleaning your house. Remember Newton’s first law of motion, which states that “every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”
BE that external force. Pick one easy thing and commit to doing it. Then move on to the next easiest task. As you complete your tasks, your motivation will build on the momentum of the tasks you have already accomplished.
Another excellent resource for overcoming procrastination in your life is The More You Do The Better You Feel: How to Overcome Procrastination and Live a Happier Life. This book had me believing the author was in my head.
Tips to stop procrastinating and clean your house
1 – Break your house cleaning tasks down into chunks
The first tip is to take whatever it is you have to do and break it down into 10-15 minute chunks. Don’t even think about it. Just pick something that needs to be done and go do it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Start with something easy, like loading the dishwasher to empty the sink. Then take a break for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a timer if you like more structure.
Most weekends this is what I do: I drag my butt out of bed to make a coffee and some toast to give myself some energy. Then I load the dishwasher and clean the dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher, while waiting for the coffee to brew and the toast to toast.
I wipe down the counters and stove. Then I sit in front of my computer for a while drinking my coffee, eating my toast, and surfing the Net.
2 – Use the right tools to make cleaning your house easier
When I’m done my breakfast, I start the dishwasher and put away any dishes that have been hand-washed, while my partner clears the floors of dog hair tumbleweeds using this awesome rubber broom that gathers all the hair without any sticking to it. It’s also great for grabbing dog hair off of carpets like a magnet. As an added bonus, there’s also a squeegee on it to clean up spills on your floors. This is our go-to for the big dog hair jobs.
Once the tumbleweeds have been cleared, I release Alice. Alice, named after the housekeeper on The Brady Bunch (does that give away my age?), is my iLife robotic vacuum cleaner that makes my life so much easier!
She’s a workhorse and is great at picking up the remaining dog hair and general dirt. Her charge lasts over an hour and that’s long enough to get our floors clean. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent and vacuuming has never been so painless! I will always have one of these in my house for ever and ever and ever and ever.
While Alice is running, I take another short internet break. Then I head to the bathroom, squirt cleaner in the toilet, and wipe down the sink and countertop with disinfecting wipes. Then I wipe down the toilet with more wipes, throw them all in the garbage and empty the garbage can. The next step is to brush out the toilet bowl and straighten out the shower curtain so nobody can see the tub. If they look, it’s at their own risk! It’s not that bad though because we automatically spray it down every time we shower.
3 – Reward yourself for the cleaning tasks you’ve accomplished
I reward myself by taking another break and surfing the Net again. When I get bored, it’s on to the living room and dining room. I put away the stuff that’s accumulated on the table over the week, clear off any crumbs and maybe change the tablecloth.
Then I put away last week’s laundry from the couch and pick up random items around the room. I grab a Duster and dust all the dust-able things and close the doors to all bedrooms.
4 – Get help with cleaning the house
Earlier in our relationship, my partner and I discussed the division of labor in our household and agreed that we were BOTH responsible for keeping the house clean. As a result, my cleaning activities signal that it’s time for him to jump into action. In addition to sweeping the floors, he empties and replaces the garbage and recycling bags, and empties the dishwasher. Voila! We are ready for company!
This is our version of the quick tidy and it takes us just about an hour to an hour and a half from start to finish, including break times, depending on when we last had guests. Our house isn’t ever “model-home” spotless – we have a dog and teens/young adults – but it’s clean enough that we can have it company ready quickly.
If you want to keep your house clean for ever and ever and ever, the following tips take it a little further. Decluttering, organization and maintaining that work sets the groundwork to clean your house and keep it that way so that you can proudly have unexpected company at any time.
5 – Make a list of regular house cleaning tasks that need to be done
Now that you have the cleaned your house to the point you can have guests, it’s a good idea to keep your momentum going and think about how you can keep it that way so you don’t have to rush around every time you invite someone over. Start by making a list of the routine tasks required to maintain your new standards and note how often it needs to be done.
6 – Prioritize your house cleaning list to create a schedule
Once your list is completed, you will notice that some tasks need to be completed daily, while some can be done weekly or even monthly. Use this list to create a cleaning schedule you can stick to. Don’t forget to ask for help from others who live in the house.
Try to make your daily or every-other day tasks ones that don’t require a lot of effort, like washing dishes or loading the dishwasher, or making your bed or clearing surfaces that get cluttered. Divide these tasks between all occupants of your home.
Tasks that require more effort, like cleaning floors and bathrooms, require a little more time and can be done less frequently. Make sure all tasks are included in your list.
7 – Declutter and organize
Once you have the every-day cleaning schedule set, you have been following it consistently, and it’s been working for you for a while, you’ll find that maintaining your clean house has become easy and your motivation to continue is high. This is the time to think about decluttering and organizing parts of your house, one at a time.
Maybe you have been throwing all the coats and shoes into the closet so they aren’t lying around making the house look messy anymore, but when you open the closet you can’t find anything.
Or maybe you have a spare room where all the things that don’t have a home are being placed and you’ve found that it’s hard to open the door because there’s so much in there.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to declutter these areas, throw out the things you don’t use and love, and organize what’s left so you can find everything easily.
If you’re really struggling with clutter and organization, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up can change your life. Her popular “Kon-mari Method’ encourages you to only keep what brings you joy and will help relieve the burden of too much “stuff” in your life.
If the above tips don’t help to stop your procrastination habit or if procrastination is negatively affecting your life, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a great tool to help you to overcome this tendency. A qualified professional can help you recognize the issues causing your procrastination and identify the root causes. They can help you develop techniques and skills to understand and better manage your thoughts and feelings and empower you to move forward.
If we can stop procrastinating and clean the house, so can you! It can feel so overwhelming, but it is doable. Remember to build on the momentum you create with those first baby steps.
It takes a little time to get to the point where it feels like it’s all under control and you can move forward in creating a clutter-free and organized home. But once you get there, it feels amazing!
We’d love to hear your tips to stop procrastinating and clean your house in the comments.