A clean house can lift your spirits. When you come home at the end of a long day, the last thing you want to walk into is a messy, cluttered home. Being surrounded by clutter can cause you to feel stressed as you look around at all the stuff you still have left to do. Often, just looking at it can kill all of your energy, making it even harder to create the clean, clear environment that you crave. It’s a vicious cycle. A messy house adds to feelings of stress, but the chore of cleaning can feel like added stress as well.
How can you get out of this vicious cycle and end up with a clean house as simply and easily as possible?
When most of us look at a messy house, our first impulse is to want to clean the entire space immediately. If we’ve let our house get very messy, though, the thought of all that work can cause us to feel overwhelmed. One of two things generally happens next. We either sink into the couch and vow to do it later-and continue to feel irritated by the mess that surrounds us-or we throw ourselves into cleaning the house from top to bottom, which can be rewarding but very time-consuming.
The best way to get rid of the mess and the stress is to break down the process into smaller steps-micromovements.
Sure, you want it all clean right now, but breaking up cleaning tasks into smaller pieces of time will help you get it clean and keep it that way when you regularly repeat the process. Instead of letting things get out of hand and then overwhelming yourself with too much housework, you can create a cleaning schedule. Keeping a simple list of duties and days on which to perform them can get you—and keep you-out of that mess.
Imagine that your house is at its messiest (It might not be that hard to imagine for some of us!). Now, imagine that you can have it completely clean by the end of this week. Here’s one possible schedule:
Monday: Do one load of laundry, fold it and put it away. Wash the dishes that have piled up in the sink. Wipe down the sink until it’s clean. Clear the countertops and wipe them down.
Tuesday: Remove clutter from the floor and sweep the kitchen. Now the kitchen is done! Do another load of laundry, fold it, and put it away. Dust all the shelves, TVs, and table tops in the house.
Wednesday: Do another load of laundry, fold it, and put it away. Pick up all clutter on the floors in other rooms. This might be a lot, so feel free to stop there.
Thursday: Vacuum all the rooms with carpet. Sweep all the rooms with hardwood floors or tile. Do another load of laundry, fold it, and put it away.
Friday: Clean bathrooms. This might sound like a lot, but bathrooms are often small rooms, and, while they may look really messy, most bathroom messes will only take 30 minutes at most to clean.
Saturday: Tie up loose ends. If you still have a load of laundry left to do, toss it in the machine, fold it, and put it away.
Sunday: Sit on your porch and enjoy some lemonade, or, better yet, sit inside and enjoy your completely clean house!
This is just a sample schedule. If another order of tasks works better for you, feel free to design your own. The basic idea here applies no matter how you choose to practice it. Take it one baby step at a time, and know that it’s okay to leave some mess behind for the next day. Every single step counts. It doesn’t all have to be done right now to get done.
Once the whole place is clean, keep it that way. Continue following a simple schedule to prevent a huge mess in the future. Eat a bowl of cereal? Rinse it and put it in the dishwasher when you’re done instead of piling dishes in the sink. Make the bed every morning. Do one load of laundry a day or every two days to prevent “laundry day.” It may take some time to turn this way of thinking into a habit, but, once you do, you’ll never have to walk into that stressful mess again-and won’t that lift your mood!