There have been so many studies that show that having a clean, tidy home can actually enhance your mood, reduce depression and all around increase quality of life. But what about those who are already struggling with these symptoms? How are you supposed to get motivated when life already feels so overwhelming and then the clutter apparently is making it all that much more difficult to get motivated and get going? Well, I can’t promise that I have all of the answers, but I do have some solutions that can help make the task of tidying a lot less daunting. On those days when you have no motivation but desperately want to clean the space around you, here are some ways you can get started.
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Let’s Clear This Up: You’re Not Lazy
The first thing I think you need to know and hear is that you’re not lazy. We have all grown up in a world that has lead us to believe that there are certain qualities we must possess in order to be considered a worthy human being and having a tidy home is one of them. That’s why we grew up with parents that frantically cleaned the house before company came over.
More and more I have begun to understand the concept that Laziness Does Not Exist. <— This is actually a book, and it’s a good one. I highly recommend.
I see more and more clearly that when our bodies feel lazy, or have a lack of motivation that there is a really good chance that this is our body’s way of saying, “O.M.G. Taking a freaking break!”
Maybe it means that your anxious brain is running on over time.
Maybe you started a new job.
Maybe you’re a mom who is just trying to figure out how the hell anyone put you in charge of raising another human being when you are pretty sure you drank so much your freshman year of college that one of your livers is forever out of comission.
Whatever the case, life is f-ing hard and so are the rules of who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to show up … they are exhausting … and made up.
So before you go around telling everyone you have no motivation, might I encourage you to pause and recognize that that feeling of no motivation is a sign that you have actually already done a lot today?!
Yeah, I’m saying that if you feel burnt out, tired, and unmotivated, you’re not lazy…this is in fact a sign that you’ve been really busy.
Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about some baby steps you can take to getting your home tidied up, because you do deserve the peace that comes with a home that feels at peace.
Give yourself a stopping point
If you’re anything like me, the clutter and chaos of your house can get to a point that it feels so messy, all you can do is sit around and think about it. You find yourself in a panicked state of overwhelm going, “Oh ma gosh, this is going to take me forrrreeevvverrrr!!” ?
Why not spare yourself to procrastination trauma and just set a tiny goal that has an end point.
I know, I know, you’re an all or nothing kind of person. (That’s called perfectionism and it’s another thing that can aid in burnout.)
So, if you’re struggling with an all-or-nothing mentality, let me gently remind you that studies also show the best way to achieve a goal is to set smaller, more manageable goals.
In other words, set a small time goal that you can stick to and that won’t make you feel crazy overwhelmed.
Here are some genius ideas for how to set a cleaning time limit:
- Clean for 3 songs (or just one) – Bust out your favorite playlist and commit to cleaning for just one song, or 3 songs, whatever it might be. Even having some go-to cleaning songs can kick your body into high gear because once it hears the music, it knows what it needs to do. Personally, I clean my house for the entire length of the Mamma Mia 2 soundtrack and time flies!
- Pop in a favorite old TV show (one you already know by heart) – This is a good way of tricking yourself into thinking you’re actually cleaning with friends. Which is one of those secret tips no one tells you can actually make you more productive.
- Set a good old fashioned timer – If you’re sitting on the couch going, “OK, I can commit to 5 minutes of cleaning, that’s it!” Cool. Set a timer choose one area to focus on. Maybe it’s dishes. Tell yourself you’ll do the dishes for 5 minutes, set a timer and just do the damn thing. (PS This also works great when it comes to exercise.)
- Commit to one teeny, tiny area – Like I said, pick an area and stick to it — and start small. No, smaller than that. Sometimes saying, I’m going to clean my room might be too much. Your room might be a big disaster that you want to tackle, but it could be bigger than the energy you have. Instead, start with your dresser or that pile of laundry in the corner. Simply tell yourself, I am ONLY going to get through that laundry pile. When you’re done, if you’re still feeling like a go-getter, maybe then commit to some other smaller task.
Watch someone else declutter
You know when you were a kid and you’d watch a movie about karate or gymnastics or something and then all of a sudden you were begging your parents to join a dojo? That’s because our monkey-see-monkey-do mentality is a very real thing!
Maybe you’re not totally psyched up just yet to start cleaning your entire house, so, why not watch someone else do it for a while? Head to the #cleaningtiktok side of TikTok, search cleaning motivation videos on YouTube or check out the latest organizational craze on Netflix.
**WARNING WITH ORGANIZATIONAL CONTENT**
A lot of content out there about cleaning and organizing is designed to encourage you to buy more stuff to clean and organize with. Some videos are sponsored, and they are getting paid to tell you to buy certain organizational tools. You do not require the tools to get the job done. That’s just something you might tell yourself to continue remaining at Procrastination Station. Find content that is pure, simple cleaning and decluttering rather than perfect, Pinterest organization.
Oh, and set a time limit for yourself. One episode or 10 minutes sounds like a good place to start. If you feel your motivation mojo start flowing, get up and run with it!
Clean while you cook
Did you juts pop something into the oven? Microwave? InstaPot? Airfryer? I’m talking, you just popped your cup of coffee back into the microwave to heat it up for the 80th time today.
No matter how long or short of a time you might have before the timer goes off on your yummy dish, or stale coffee, take this time to make yourself productive. Who can’t commit to a 30 second microwave re-heat? Am I right?
For me this usually means just wiping down the counter tops (we all hate cluttered counter tops, right?), putting away the clean dishes, loading the few dirty dishes into the dishwasher or switching a load of laundry before you completely forget about it.
I promise, you’d be surprised just how much cleaning you could do with only a few minutes in the microwave! Seriously! The amount of mini tasks I accomplish in 30 seconds flat still floors me.
Try text accountability
Did you know we are more likely to get shit done if we have someone just sitting in the room holding us accountable? Not like my step dad hovering over my shoulder while I did the dishes as a kid. Not that kind of accountability. PS I’m pretty sure this is why I have an aversion to washing dishes now, even in adulthood.
The funky truth is a lot of us, especially those with ADHD, we just need someone sitting there while we work. You could even try doing this over FaceTime or through texts!
Maybe it would be crazy awesome to just make a small pact with a close friend. Each day you both choose one tiny area of your house to tidy up and/or declutter (think junk drawer, closet, fridge).
To keep it simple, agree that your cleaning capades never take no more than 10 minutes!
Every day snap a picture of your newly cleaned space to keep one another motivated, on track and feeling accomplished!
This can be such a low maintenance way to have an accountability partner without feeling like you need to commit to anything huge or life-altering. You’re just trying to be less messy…together.
The bare minimum is the new power cleaning
Just like we tend to over-think our cleaning and decluttering process, we often make our to-do list way too big.
Chances are you have spent all day making a mental note of all the things you need to fix, clean or tidy. All of a sudden it feels like you have a list that is like 8 miles long and you just keep adding to it!
Yes, you might ultimately want to give your entire house a makeover, but for now just start with the bathroom. Heck, just start by eliminating any old product in your bathroom cupboard.
From there you can work to organizing your makeup, then under the sink.
Make the big goal in your head way smaller. Let yourself know it’s ok to do the bare minimum! No one is expecting you to win an award for the best cleaner in the world. Pick on tiny area of focus, give it a half-assed attempt and let that be enough.
Who knows, after you get started maybe you’ll have gained a little more motivation to move onto the next thing. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter.
Become a trash master
You know that itchy desire you get to just start tossing things? Yeah, I think you should totally run with that idea.
If the mood strikes you and you get to the boiling point where you feel like you can’t look at the mess around you for one more second…don’t!
Grab that garbage bag and just start tossing. Just go. The more you think about it, the more you will second guess it all when we all know your initial instinct is usually the right one!
And hey, did you know you could actually make money with some of your garbage? Yeah, seriously! Before you are quick to toss out things like old electronics, furniture or even books, take a quick pause to see what these items might be worth if you were to sell them online!
Think you might be into making extra cash selling trash? Check out the Trash to Cash course that teaches you how to find the right stuff to sell and where to sell it for the best profit!
Have a dump bin
One of the bets low maintenance cleaning tips I have ever heard is to simply have a dump bin in your home at all times!
This could be a box, a bin, a bag…anything you want that you can leave open to clutter at all times.
If you or members of your family come across something you no longer feel like you need, simply drop it off in the “dump bin.”
Set a time at the end of the month to donate anything that has been left in the dump bin. This can be a great way to clear through clutter quicker without having to make a big fuss about decluttering!
If you still need to declutter your closet or clean out the garage, get yourself in the habit of not buying anything new to fill up these spaces.
Often times when we feel stressed or depressed, our first thought is to give in to our bad little habits. For most of us, shopping is one of those bad habits!
Remind yourself that purchasing anything new is working against your cause, especially if you are battling a lot of clutter. Before you buy anything new, make it a goal to clean through the space in your home where you’ll be placing the item.
The best thing you can do is learn to shop smarter (and outsmart the system) so you can have a home that is filled with only the things you love! Click here to check out The Shopaholic Solution
and learn how to do exactly that!
Consider a smaller space
Like I said, cleaning a bigger house is going to take more time and effort. Do you think you and your family are ready for a downsize? Would that improve not only your cleaning times but your relationships as well?
I’m not saying downsizing is for everyone, but it’s often a solution that is the least considered.
For us downsizing not only cut back on our cleaning times, but it created more time for us as a family, improved our relationships and helped us get right with our finances. Is downsizing right for you?