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How to Stop Procrastinating to Clean Your House [updated]
This is the day that you have assigned to clean your house. You wake up with the best of the intentions of doing so and decide that you won’t procrastinate to clean your house.
Wait, better check your cell phone first, while you’re having your coffee.
That took longer than you expected and you ended up browsing on Facebook to catch up with the news, after an Instagram break.
It is noon now.
Nothing has been done yet and you have the “absurd’ feeling that this is the way the day will end.
It can’t be, you know you’re determined to clean the house TODAY.
Ok, there’s always tomorrow.
There’s the thing:
Procrastinating to clean the house is universal
I will show you that understanding what really happens in our mind can help a lot to get the job done!
How to stop procrastinating to clean the house for good!
- Understand how your brain works when in procrastination mode
- Simple tips on how to stop procrastinating and get the house clean (Free printable)
- The secret: what is Productive Procrastination and how it can help you
Understanding how your brain works when in “procrastination mode”
There are people that naturally look for order and harmony in their lives. For these people, cleaning and organizing happen with no effort, and their places are always neat and nice.
I am not this kind of person and if you’re reading this, you are not either.
For the rest of us, to stop procrastinating to get the house clean can be a constant battle.
The process of procrastinating is more complex than just labeling as laziness, lack of motivation or any other way you want to call it.
According to several researchers, we procrastinate because of 2 main reasons:
1- We can’t clearly see the meaning of the task to be performed, how it is relevant and what are the consequences if it is not performed.
2- We are not sure how to perform it.
A good example is when your house is so dirty and you’re so overwhelmed with the mess that you don’t even know where to start or how would be the best way of tackling it.
When it comes to cleaning the house, especially for people who work all week, tackling the house, means using precious time for a tedious task that is being stolen from their relaxing time.
Some people are organized enough to plan their weekends in a way that the fun starts after all chores are completed.
However, for the majority of us, procrastination is an uncomfortable reality. It takes over and nothing gets done!
Here is the truth: It all boils down to whether the task – cleaning the house – is valued or not. The confusion happens because we assume that we objectively “value” a clean and tidy house but in fact, it is a subjective value.
The completion of the task – cleaning the house – will happen in the future. That means that getting your cleaning done is a delayed reward, so its value in the present is reduced: the further away the deadline is, the less attractive it seems to work on dusting, mopping and vacuuming right now.
Although this explanation makes a lot of sense, in real life, when the mess is everywhere, thinking of your core values is out of the question.
Finding a more immediate source of value would be way easier. For example, inviting somebody over for a coffee later in the day, will force you to get the cleaning done.
According to Tim Pychyl, who has been researching procrastination for more than 20 years, there are seven characteristics that make you more likely to procrastinate. They describe whether a task is:
- Lacking in personal meaning or intrinsic rewards
According to him, it is a good start to distance yourself from a task you’re struggling to complete, and ask yourself which of these above disruptive attributes the task has.
Then you can make a plan to flip these characteristics (make the task more fun, clear, or easy, allow more time to complete, etc ) to facilitate your connection with the task.
Some examples are:
- Realizing that getting help in completing anything from a work report to a home spring cleaning, that you’re stuck in, will not hurt your sense of pride
- Planning a weekend of cleaning the house with the whole family that culminates with everybody cooking together might motivate the whole family
- Breaking up the boring task of cleaning the whole house into small lengths of time because you understand that dealing with your mess is stressing you out right now.
Wait, there’s a secret solution!
The trick is to connect the cleaning to more immediate sources of value, such as life goals or core values (for example: “a clean house will make me become more productive” or “a clean house will bring good energy to the house).
By doing so, you would be reducing the gap between the objective and the subjective value that is underlining the cleaning procrastination. It will become a routine that you will live by. as we all know, though, incorporating new routines, habits and new ways of living doesn’t happen overnight.
In the mean time, use these simple tips to stop procrastinating:
Simple Tips To Stop Procrastinating to Clean your House
In case understanding what is behind your mental procrastination isn’t enough, here some simple tips to fight it:
1- Make a list of the tasks you want to complete and assign a number for each task.
It is easier to make the list the day before if you can. This will avoid a possible excuse for extra procrastination on the day of.
Starting the day knowing what you will do, prepares your mind for the event and you will feel that you have already started.
The simplest the list, the better result you will have.
2- Once the list is done, play activities off against each other to organize your priorities
Especially if you don’t have much time, prioritize your chores, by comparing what is essential to do.
This way you will get more done, you will feel less guilty and will build momentum, which might even help you to complete the whole list. Don’t lose your hope yet!
3- Declutter your home before you begin cleaning
Another example on something you can do the day before. Having things out of the way makes cleaning easier and faster. Need some guidance decluttering?
By decluttering your home as the first step of the cleaning marathon, not only will get you in the cleaning mood, but will also open space for some good energy flowing in your house.
4- Break up large cleaning tasks
Don’t get distracted by tackling more than you have planned. If you’re cleaning the kitchen, for example, and feel the urge to clean every one of your tea cups you inhered from your grandmother, keep the focus on your main goal instead.
Polishing the adorable (and probably not so necessary) cups might be time-consuming and your list will not be completed.
5- Add music to your cleaning routine
Some people have special playing lists for cleaning the house. I have a friend that loves to listen to opera while cleaning the house.
Whatever rocks your boat right? Music boosts the mood and makes you move quicker. Don’t lose your momentum now!
6- Aim for Progress, not Perfection
Knowing your limits (physical, time available, etc) is very important to plan your house cleaning session accordingly.
Resist the temptation to do a deep cleaning in your guest bedroom, for example, if you are finished a little bit ahead of time. Rushing to finish that extra room, that you added to the list, can be stressing.
Conversely, finishing all your house cleaning ahead of time will make you feel even more accomplished and productive.
7- Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself about your lack of motivation to clean
If we were to talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves, we wouldn’t have a lot of friends left.
When we put too much pressure on ourselves to get stuff done, our negative self-talk can go through the roof and it will only make things worse.
Next time you find yourself putting off work, pay attention to what you say to yourself in your head.
If you find yourself saying a lot of things like, “I can’t do this,” “I’m no good at this,” or “why can’t I just stop wasting time,” you’re probably only making things worse and sending the wrong messages to your self-steam.
A better way is to take it easy and praise yourself about the things you have already completed, even if your only task was loading the dishwasher.
8- Be careful with labeling yourself that you don’t have home cleaning skills
Home cleaning is part of life reality and it is something that can add lots of comfort to our lives. Keeping the motivation to clean in a regular basis is not an easy task but the more we try to incorporate the habit, the easier will be to be on top of the task.
Be careful to label yourself as a “bad cleaner” or someone who never had “cleaning skills.
Home cleaning is not rocket science and it is easy to learn, although most of us would prefer not to have to do so.
Labeling yourself as a “bad cleaner” might just be a defence mechanism to rationalize to yourself why you’re not doing the job, that, as tedious as it is, it is just part of real life and has to be done.
9- Reward yourself
After the job done, make time for a nice break, enjoying the results of your hard work.
Look around and enjoy the result of seeing your space looking nice and tidy, even if it doesn’t last long.
Cleanliness and tidiness open space for positive energy flowing in your house.
Take some time for yourself and the things you like to do.
Productive Procrastination – What is it and how can help you?
Productivity is one of the most powerful ideas in the world: the more productive you become and the more you can get done in less time, the more time you free up to do things that are the most important to you.
But it’s totally unrealistic to expect yourself to be productive 24/7.
When you have exhausted all your efforts to fight procrastination to clean the house, ask yourself whether you’re simply procrastinating, or whether you’re genuinely in need of a break.
Taking a break will help to recharge, reduce your negative self-talk, and warm up to tasks that you’re struggling to complete. Taking a break from productivity every once in a while will help you to become much more productive at the end of the day.
When you’re mindful of your energy levels, is easier to detach yourself from what you need to do. Pick the perfect time to end your break and start working again.
And there you have it, productive procrastination!
Procrastination is a complex process that can compromise productivity.
If you want to explore other roots of how procrastination becomes an emotional crutch, take 5 min and read this article. It is a take on how procrastination is an emotional regulation problem, rather than a time management problem.