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Tips on Keeping Motivated to Clean Your House
I bet you’re asking yourself if is it really possible to keep motivated to clean your house. Unless you have a very organized and neat personality, the majority of us, poor souls, are always struggling to do the house cleaning. We do like the result though, seeing everything nice and neat and believing that somehow we’ll manage to keep everything that way.
It is not too difficult to get the energy to clean the house when we have an event coming, guests arriving or an external push to do so. The key to keep motivated to clean the house is not about doing the one shot cleaning, and getting the nice boost of having achieved it. Instead the key to keep motivated to clean and tidy the house is to get to the point when you’re doing regularly enough that you never feel overwhelmed with your messy home.
In other words: The key to clean and organize your home is to keep your motivation and energy always in stand by, so much so that when you do need to clean it is not a hard chore.
Understanding The Psychology Behind Cleanliness
The emotional effect of enjoying a clean house goes beyond what we think that is just household work. It affects how we function in other areas of our life.
According to Psychology Today, in a 2010 study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who described their living spaces as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.” The researchers also found that women with cluttered homes expressed higher levels of cortisol.
Why Do we Crave Cleanliness?
Most us value living in a clean house, in organized rooms, where everything is in place. It makes us feel good and this is why is so annoying when we can’t get motivated to clean can declutter.
The thing is: We do crave cleanliness. Why? The 3 following explanations will lead the way to understand why we ultimately have to find the way to uncover some house cleaning secrets and do the job!
1- External Organization relates to our organized biological and neuro-chemical systems
The human body is made up of tens of thousands of integrated biological and neuro-chemical systems, that are very well organized, working in perfect harmony. Many of our cells operate on strict schedules, or circadian rhythms. Even at the atomic level, we are well-regulated and well-organized. Without this organization, our bodies would collapse into chaos.
In other words, at a very deep level, psychologically, we crave the same organization that silently happens inside our bodies.
2- Cleanliness helps our Mental Health
Beyond appearances, being clean and organized is also essential for practicing good mental health. Rooms that are cluttered and messy make for easy distractions and can actually impair your brain’s ability to process information. We feel unsettled in the chaotic environment, even if we’re not aware of it. This is important not only at home, but also in our careers. We will be more productive and develop healthy habits at work if we pay attention to tidiness and order.
A good example of this are people that are very successful in their careers and a big part of their jobs is to strictly maintain the work environment nice and clean, like chefs, successful home renovation crews, surgeons, etc.
3- Tidying up promotes good mood and boosts self-esteem
This evidence shows how messy spaces can make it difficult to focus on particular tasks and achieve goals throughout the day. Engaging in the rituals of cleaning, research shows that we feel more optimistic after failure, because tidying up can actually boost self-esteem and confidence.
The act of organization provides a physical signal to tell the brain that we have achieved success in being orderly, which will inevitably result in feelings of affirmation.
How to Motivate Yourself to do The House Work
Now that we gave some food to the brain on understanding how a clean house can improve your lifestyle, let’s dig in some tips on HOW to do the job, fighting laziness, lack of will power, and finding a house cleaning routine that fits your life.
1- Cleaning the house should be as important in your priority list as your other tasks (your job, cooking, shopping, etc)
This is the one thing that we all are guilty of: many times we place the house cleaning task, behind all other chores, blaming lack of time, work and many other excuses.
Waking up in a clean space will boost your mood towards a positive day outcome. Getting home to a clean home will make your resting time complete and really restful.
2- Break up the House cleaning in small steps, instead of performing a heavy load of cleaning and tiding over the weekend.
If you get home from work and manage to do one load of laundry, you will not find a big pile of laundry waiting for you on your weekend and you won’t feel so overwhelmed with the mess.
3- When taking something out of place, put it back as soon as you finish using it – daily.
You will be minimizing the tedious job of collecting clutter all over the house before you can even start your weekly house cleaning.
It takes 2 seconds to put that pair of slacks you were planning to wear in the morning, back to where it belongs and less than 1 minute to load your dirty dishes form breakfast in the dish washer.
4- Procrastinating is your worst enemy because it creates and accumulates more clutter
By far, the biggest motivation to clean your house, is not getting to the point of being overwhelmed with the accumulated mess, because you’ve been doing little bits of the job every day. Procrastinating is a complex issue but really it will not take you anywhere.
When you’re about to start your cleaning, you will know it won’t take the whole day, but maybe a couple of hours and then you’re off to enjoy your free time doing what you like.
5- Visualize a mental picture of your clean house
Close your eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath and let your mind find the perfect image of your clean and organized home, imagine how good you will be feeling, imagine the smells and the nice sensations.
6- Look for external inspiration
This is a trick I use all the time for cooking, when I need a good push to head off to the kitchen and start peeling potatoes. For me, cooking from scratch is a must in our home, but doing every day becomes a chore that sometimes gets the best of me, although I love cooking.
My trick is: I take 10 min to watch a cooking show, and all of a sudden, the mundane act of peeling potatoes becomes a glamorous, not disregarded step on cooking a sophisticated dinner.
The same can happen with the lack of motivation to clean the house. Take 10 min to go to Youtube and watch a Marie Kondo episode on decluttering and I guarantee you will get inspired by her. Her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, talks about The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, that leads to lasting results. It is based on the promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have ever lapsed.
7- Make a plan to move furniture around
You will see that as soon as you start this exercise of moving furniture around, you will also feel the urge to clean. What you’re really doing is changing the stale energy and renovating it and this feels so good that you won’t want to stop. It is amazing that when our home energy needs to be renovated small changes can really do the job.
8- Get a new cleaning product, candle or air spray
If you plan your house cleaning routine ahead a time, make a point of buying a cleaning product that you’ve never used before or a new candle with a different scent that will motivate you. It is a small, unexpected cleaning trick that does wonders to help us to finish the cleaning faster.
9- Organize your family to help out in advance
Don’t expect that your kids or husband come running to you asking if you need help to clean the house. This kind of miracles are very rare if ever they exist.
Over the years I learned that talking to the family in advance, making plans for everybody to help on a certain time, works very well. Kids should be involved in the cleaning as well and as the leader of the team (which you probably are) is your job to organize the team. By planning in advance everyone will work their activities around it.
10- Acknowledge how you feel and find out if this is the day when you really can’t face cleaning the house and why
At the end of the day, if you’re really struggling to clean your house too often, the wise thing to do is understanding why the house cleaning is looking as such a huge task that you don’t see any reason to do.
In the old days, women’s lives revolved a lot around working many hours at home, simply because they didn’t have enough tools and machines to help out. People would wait for the weekends to have the well deserved fun and rest, and work hard for the remaining of the week.
We live in a different world now, where ideally we want to have fun, free time and entertainment every day. We’re surrounded by many electronic distractions that the practical aspects of life can be easily neglected. Therefore cleaning the house today feels a way heavier duty than it was for the generations before us. The acceptance that home labor had to be done was ingrained in the way society worked, back then.
Regardless all tips and tricks we can find to help us, ideally, cleaning and looking after our homes should be seen more as a joy than a sacrifice. Just being healthy and well to function to organize our lives should be enough motivation.Looking after all of our human needs: food, clean and protected shelter, clothing, should be just a natural thing to do.
In a perfect world, taking care of all the details that life at home requires, cleaning and tidying included, should not be seen as a heavy chore but instead, as part of the incredible miracle that is being alive and living well.