I love cleaning. I really do! I guess it’s the instant gratification- when you clean a room, it looks better. You can see the tangible results of your work right before your eyes! I like seeing the progress I’m making. But some days I just really don’t want to clean. The house needs it. I know I’ll feel better in a clean house. But I just can’t muster the motivation.
On those days I have a trick I use to get the house mostly clean, feel good clean, (not the spotless clean, every surface wiped, every floor vacuumed clean), but still. Feel good clean.
The 20 Minute Method
I call it the twenty minute method and it is super easy! Here it is. I tell myself I only have to clean for 20 minutes. Then I set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes, press start, and start cleaning. This works for me for a couple of reasons:
- It’s super doable. Twenty minutes is easy, and it’s just enough time for me to get a few big items done, or a quick whole-house pick-up done. I don’t feel overwhelmed because I know I won’t be at it for 2 hours. (Because cleaning is like that. There’s always something that could be cleaner. A little less cluttered. Fresher. The thought of how much there is to clean can be really overwhelming! But I just have to tell myself, stop. That’s it for today.)
- It’s a great motivator. Setting a timer for 20 minutes usually gets me fired up right away, even if I’ve been feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated to clean the house. I tell myself I only have 20 minutes, then I’ll move on to something else. Walk with baby. Make lunch. You get the picture. When the timeframe is tiny, it’s easier to jumpstart my lackluster motivation!
Sometimes I Surprise Myself…
Whenever I set the timer I always tell myself just 20 minutes, then I can be done with cleaning for the day. But that’s not always what happens! If the house isn’t completely clean in the first 20, often I will reset the timer and go for another 20 minutes. Most of the time I find that I really want to finish cleaning the house or finishing a task- my motivation is back! But I only restart the timer if I’m feeling excited or motivated. If I don’t feel like I want to keep cleaning at the end of the 20 minutes, I let myself be done for the day and do something I enjoy. I grab a cup of coffee and read on the couch for a while, or I go for a walk with baby.
Why 20 Minutes?
The reason the 20 minute method works so well for me is because at the end of that 20 minutes, I move on. It’s a great motivator. Of course, if you absolutely hate cleaning or you’re really in a slump, maybe 10 minutes would be better. It’s adjustable. I pick 20 because it’s just enough time to do a thorough pick up (if the house isn’t a total bomb), but not so long it feels like a chore. Oftentimes 30 feels too long when I’m experiencing lackluster motivation.
I find I can usually do a quick pick-up of the house in that timeframe, or get 2 or 3 big tasks done. My first two tasks are almost always loading the dishwasher and doing a load of laundry (starting a new load and folding the one in the dryer). Those are the two that make me not want to start cleaning at the beginning of the day, but they’re also the things that make the house feel clean if they’re done. Then after that I vacuum or water the plants or something fun like that. 🙂
Another way to try the 20 minute method is to make a 20 minute playlist of music you love. Then start your music and go until it stops! Having a playlist helps straightening the house feels more like a party and not so much like… cleaning. It’s a lot of fun to put on a bunch of upbeat music and rock out while you make your house beautiful again!
So there you have it! My 20 minute method for cleaning the house when I really don’t want to. Of course this works for a lot of other things too. What do you plan on using it for? Does setting a time limit pump up your motivation?