We have all been there. Probably more than once.
You had a crazy weekend, so all of your Sunday chores were missed. “It’s fine,” you rationalize. “I can do laundry on Tuesday.” But Tuesday rolls by and you were just so exhausted from work that not only could you not do laundry, but you now have a sink full of dishes. “It’s alright,” you tell yourself. “I have nothing planned this weekend. Saturday will be devoted to house work.” But all of a sudden it’s 3 o’clock on Sunday, and the sink is still full of dishes, your floorboards need dusting, the laundry seems out of control, and you don’t even know where to begin.
This happens to me more often (much more often) than I care to admit.
Below, I have compiled a list of tips that help me when I feel so overwhelmed by the state of my home that I don’t even know where to start.
1. Give yourself a time limit.
Sometimes, the idea of working until the task is done is too overwhelming. “If I will be working until the task is done, I will be working forever,” you might say to yourself. Sometimes, a task is too big to even know where to begin.
Start with giving yourself a time limit.
This is my mother’s favorite housework trip. She uses an egg timer and says, “I am going to get as much done as I possibly can in the next hour.” I give myself a time: “You need to be working until 2 o’clock. After 2, I can rest.”
However you set your limit, knowing that there is an end in sight is super helpful to getting started.
2. Start with the task that you hate.
The task that I loathe more than anything in the world is folding laundry. Ever since Tidying Up with Marie Kondo came out, I have felt that the way I fold my clothes is grossly inadequate (and yet I am totally unwilling to change).
However, there is nothing that feels as great as finally getting through an entire basket of laundry and getting your dining room table (or, as I like to call it, “the table of requirement”) back.
Okay, there might be things that feel better than finishing your laundry, but the feeling is still very good.
Once I have finished the laundry (or at least the first load) I feel empowered to tackle whatever the next task maybe.
You can do hard things, and when you start with the hard things, it makes all the other things seem easier.
3. Netflix is NOT Your Friend.
We all fall into this trap: “I’ll just watch my show while I… [insert unpleasant chore here].” That is a lie. I know it’s a lie, you know it’s a lie, and Netflix knows it’s a lie.
Instead of trying to trick yourself into thinking that you can dust and watch “Parks & Rec”, put on a tried-and-true playlist (one that you won’t have to skip around to find a good song) and dance while you work.
4. Go from Room-to-Room!
Sometimes, it can be frustrating to feel like you have been working and working in a space and it doesn’t look (or smell) any better. A little distance can help.
Start with dusting in your living room and then washing a few dishes in the kitchen. Not only is it easier to see (and smell) progress with a bit of space, you also don’t get too bored with a task, and boredom is a motivation killer.
5. Keep the reward in mind.
Sometimes, picturing how great your mantle will look when you finally dust it is enough to keep you going.
Another reward that I keep in the front of my brain is thinking about the awesome pictures I can take of my space once it’s put back together.
6. Grab a partner!
My grandparents do something called “dish fellowship.” It’s essentially just washing dishes with a partner. My grandmother washes and my grandfather dries, and while they are working together, they chat and and they laugh.
Clean-Fellowship is a really nice way to connect with your partner (or a really helpful friend) and it makes the work go by so much more quickly.
I find myself much more motivated when I see someone else doing the work as well. Singing and dancing while you work can make the household chores, dare I say it, fun.
7. Plan on having some company.
Nothing motivates me to clean more than knowing that we are going to have guests. It adds a sense of urgency that isn’t always there when you are just cleaning for yourself.
If I know I need to clean, I invite my mom over for a cup of coffee. My mom is super critical of the way I keep my home, so if I know she is coming I will get to work very quickly!
8. Remember, “Finished is better than perfect.”
You are not going to get every single dust bunny under your couch. You are wearing your next load of dirty laundry. You are going to have to cook again, and you are going to create more dirty dishes.
Making your house a home is something that happens every day. It’s a daily practice (or weekly practice), so it’s alright that everything is not perfect. Do what you can. Find some peace in your limits.
9. Give yourself a break- a life fully lived means that your house will be messy sometimes.
Your house seems like a wreck because:
- You work really hard at your job and when you get home your tank is too empty to wash every single window.
- You went to a baseball game instead of cleaning out your Crock Pot.
- You binged on “Community” and ate snacks with your partner instead of vacuuming.
These are all wonderful things to do, and will enrich your life much more fully than dusting your floorboards.
Understand and acknowledge that it’s okay when your house feels neglected. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable and proud of your home, and don’t sweat the rest. Life happens and you have to forgive yourself when your house gets a little messy; it’s nothing to beat yourself up about.
10. Swear you will never let it get this bad again.
And forgive yourself when it does.
Let me know what you think! Are you able to work when you have Netflix on? What is your least favorite household chore? Tell me all about it in the comments!