~ Anne Gibbons
I’ve begun a project to clean my house. Neglect – partly due to my last bout of depression – has left the house in such a sorry state of dishevelment that I think even my cats are embarrassed to have company over. Well, Sebastian did bring that bird in the house this summer, but I managed to wrest it from his jaws and release it before it got a glimpse of the messy living room. That was a close call.
With the holidays upon us, I have been thinking about inviting a small group of friends and family over for a get together, and so I want to have the house in order for that. But more so, I want a clean environment for my own benefit. Being the homebody that I am, I end up spending a whole lot of time surrounded by whatever mess I allow to collect around me. After a while, it starts to drag me down emotionally.
When I let the housekeeping go, the mess builds up gradually, unnoticed by my undiscerning eye until it has reached a critical mass such that I can no longer ignore it. And by that time, remedying the situation is no longer a small task. I have to declare an all-out war on grime.
Since I hate housekeeping, I have to resort to “tricks” to keep myself motivated and moving forward. Here are some of the things I’ve been told to try:
** Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes (or whatever amount works for you), and work non-stop for that length of time, then take a break. By doing this, you have a set deadline. We can do most anything for 15 minutes, can’t we? Even if it is repugnant, we can see an end in sight. Then the trick is to actually commit to another 15 minutes, and then another, until the task is completed.
** Break down the job into specific, bite-sized tasks. Instead of thinking in terms of having to clean the whole kitchen, first just set a small, easily doable goal. Wash the pots and pans as a start. Or clear out the sink. Or take out the garbage. Whatever applies to your situation. Just break it down so it becomes less daunting.
** Compartmentalize your cleaning by working on one specific area at a time. If the entire living room is a mess, just pick one square foot of space to clean first, maybe an end table, for example, and progress one square foot at a time.
** Do the things that have the greatest impact first. If it would please you most to have a clean coffee table, then clear the table off, putting the stuff somewhere where you can sort it later. If you deal with one accumulated item at a time, it will take forever to see an impact. If you get it all out of sight at once, you have the immediate reward of a clean table. The trick here is to go back and sort the individual items at a later time, don’t just leave them stacked somewhere else. The “out of sight, out of mind” approach is not a good long-term cleaning tactic.
I also find it useful to “set the stage” for cleaning. I put on clothes that I’m not going to mind getting dirty or stained or spilling bleach on, I crank up the energizing tunes on my stereo (or Pandora; I wonder if they have a “cleaning” station to listen to), and I remind myself of how good it will feel to sit down in a tidy room once I am done.
Okay, now that I’ve sat here and had my “break,” I’m off to tackle another piece of the challenge.