How To Get Motivated To Clean

Cleaning Headspace! (Uh, what’s that?)

A while back, we made a video about cleaning your roomand in that video I said that you shouldn’t even attempt to clean if you are not in the right headspace.

Since then, many of you have asked what exactly I meant by that, and many others have asked how one gets into the right headspace.

Keep in mind, we all have different things that motivate us. But I wanted to share my favorite tips that I use to get myself motivated. Please share in the comments what you do!

How to get motivated to clean:

Clean in the Morning

I read somewhere that if you put the most daunting task of your day at the beginning of your day, it’ll get done quicker. The best part? You get to go through the rest of your day with a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

 Set a Schedule—and Stick to It.

Things that get scheduled have a better chance of getting done. Schedule yourself an hour each week that you dedicate to cleaning. For me, it’s usually Sunday morning at 10:00. This way, I never have to worry about when I will get around to cleaning. If it helps, you can even make a detailed list about what you want to accomplish during your hour. Once Sunday rolls around, and I’ve cleaned for an hour, I can keep going if I feel like it—but if not, I’ve done my time!

Prepare your Stuff

Have all of your tools and products in one spot and make sure you everything’s ready for action: Cleaning cloths clean, product bottles full. As I’ve mentioned in several videos, a cleaning caddy is a super-handy addition.

Have A Routine

A great way to effectively use your time while cleaning is to have a routine—a list of cleaning tasks that you will follow to help you stay on track. Think of it as a Google map for your cleaning—it’ll help you get where you need to be in a quick, efficient manner! You might also find it helpful to do a little research beforehand to learn some techniques for cleaning an item that you have questions about. That way, you will reduce frustration during your cleaning. Along with all of the videos that we have on our Youtube channel, we have tons of terrific posts on our blog, as well as handy printables!

First Thing First (You’ve Got to Start Somewhere)

Have you ever noticed that when you finally get around to doing something that you’ve put off for a long time, that it isn’t really as hard as you thought it would be? The biggest barrier to cleaning your home is getting started—everything after that is pretty straightforward. It’s kind of like going to the gym. Getting into that headspace to even put on your gym clothes and go can be tough, but once you are there, you’re pumping iron like it’s no one’s business.

Avoid Distractions

These days we have more distractions than ever. While checking your text messages might only take you 10 seconds, it takes you away from your cleaning just long enough to completely lose focus. So now, you have to go through the re-starting process all over again. To avoid temptation, turn off your cell phone, TV, laptop, tablet etc. This is your time to care for your home. I like doing this—you might find you do too. It’s nice to take a break from these distractions.

Whistle While You Work

The Seven Dwarves had it right. A little music can go a long way. Play your favorite tunes while you tend to your cleaning, and turn it into a dance party. We’ve actually created 3 Songza playlists for you to clean to, with one for the seventies, eighties and nineties. Enjoy!

Don’t be Perfect

Remember, you are not trying to prepare for a visit from the Queen (or Will and Kate, which arguably would be more exciting). You’re trying to take an hour each week and clean as much as possible—without spending too much time in one particular place. Don’t get caught up for 20 minutes treating one carpet stain when you can spend that time vacuuming, making beds, and clearing clutter from the living room. We’re looking for more bang for your buck! Frustrating yourself over one small thing can lead to losing interest in the whole process—and that’s what we want to avoid!

Have Someone Help You

I’ve heard it all before: ”I’ll never be able to get my kids to help me clean.” Or, “My partner doesn’t have time to help me.” Maybe that’s true, or maybe you’re just telling yourself that’s true. Maybe it’s time to re-examine how cleaning gets done at home, because everyone who is able does need to contribute. Having just one other person help you clean cuts cleaning time in half!

Reward Yourself

All too often, we accomplish things and never give ourselves the much needed pat-on-the-back that we deserve. When you’re finished, it’s a perfect time to reward yourself by going out for lunch (eggs Benedict anyone?), or spending some time watching a movie—maybe even pouring yourself a cocktail or glass of wine to unwind in your tidy living room! Whatever it is, it’s an important part of the process, because next week, when cleaning time rolls around again, you’ll remember that a reward is waiting for you when it’s over, yet again.

Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It

I often hear from our viewers that they hate cleaning because no one appreciates the work that they have done. Here’s the thing: You do it for yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or does. You are cleaning the house for your own peace of mind, pride of ownership, and sanity. It’s about that moment when someone happens to stop by unexpectedly: you get to say, “Come on in!” as opposed to, “OMG I am so sorry, the place is a mess!” Reframe the task—instead of saying, “Sigh, I have to clean my house today,” think about standing in your clean home 1 hour later and saying, “I cleaned my house today!” Be proud of your work. You’re doing this to create a better space for YOU.

And finally, think of all the positives that come from cleaning. It’s been proven time and time again that a clean home leads to a happier life. Therefore, the process of cleaning is actually the process of building a more contented life—and trust me on this one, it’s MUCH easier to enjoy your time in ANY space, be it a living space or even your workspace, when it’s a clean space!

Please share your cleaning motivation ideas with me and those reading this post—I think everyone can benefit from it! Happy cleaning. 🙂

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

89 COMMENTS

  1. I’d rather read than clean, my problem. Who’s with me and holding me accountable right now? I know anybody reading this would cheer me on and say put down your device and go clean that pile in the corner! I’m going to do it. For all the wonderful people that I’ve read about that have trouble cleaning too. It’s just too big for my own brain. All of your comments have helped me. I swear to you in the next 15 minutes I’m going to clean up that dopey pile!

  2. I needed motivation to clean, and while grasping at the straws of procrastination I googled it and found this article. Even having an old boyfriend coming to town wasn’t getting me off my a**. But I read this, and I feel so much better about doing it. I’m disabled, live by myself, and I don’t get many visitors. But what you say is absolutely true–I clean for me, not for anybody else–it’s all about the feeling you have afterward. I was just putting the cart before the horse. Now, if you’ll excuse me…

  3. I find that buying some new cleaning products, or even just a new air freshener or something, really helps get me motivated. Seems silly, but there it is.

  4. I find myself just rearranging the clutter and not actually cleaning.The task shouldnt be a negative. I took your advice to get into the right mind set. Before and trying to motivate myself I would think “My husband works his butt off all day the least I could do is clean and try and stay busy.” Needless to say that rarely worked to get off my butt. It actually made me feel guilty and depressed. Staying positive and actually figuring out what is the hold up. I took the time to assess what needed to change and where. For example, I took the cleaning task as a circle (I call it the ring of clean). Let’s think of laundry. The order of the ring clockwise for me is: sort,wash,dry,fold,put-away. Next step is to identify where that ring is broken. My broken spot was the put away. Knowing that, I was able to specifically work harder during that step.At first I felt a little stupid that I had no issue with the first 4 steps except the last and probably most gratify step. Your tip of it doesnt have to be perfect was helpful in getting the motivator to qork on that step. Getting started on the cleaning task was huge for me. Another motivator is thinking that I don’t want my child to have the same issues as an adult. My feeling and habit is the exact same thing as my mother. Example was set. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.Good luck everyone who has a house to clean. Assess your ring of clean. You might surprise yourself. Another fun thing I found out was that my husband and his ring of clean is broken aswell. However,his favorite part is the put away. So getting a person to help has worked cause I don’t mind the first steps and I hate the final one of put away. So I do most all and he does the last step. It works out perfectly.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Sharon! We all have our hangups when it comes to cleaning, but the important thing is we don’t give up 🙂

  5. Bro I was going to clean my room before I started thinking about the times I actually WANT to clean my room and how i wasn’t bored. I looked up this website and got distracted doing this. Otherwise, this website helped and gave me good tips

  6. Your great tips are helpful to many, but there are people who have ADHD who need other tips, so here are a few (and some of these may be good ideas for others, too):

    1. Use a timer.
    A simple kitchen timer, or one on your phone, can help you stay focused and ensure that you won’t get “lost” in your task. When your time is up, you can always re-assess and set it again if you wish.

    2. Break your cleaning time down into smaller segments that allow for quick breaks.
    The Pomodoro Technique uses this method, and it’s a good one: break down your allotted cleaning time into smaller bits, based on your optimal unit of attention and energy. For example, if you prefer to work in 30-minute segments, set your timer for 25 minutes, then allow a five-minute break (to drink water, to sit for a minute, whatever). Then set the timer for 25 minutes again, and so on until the full time has been reached. Your cleaning segments can be very short — five or ten minutes — or as long as you want. Just don’t allow yourself to go off task during the breaks; keep them short to stay focused.

    3. Use distraction!
    For many folks with ADHD, keeping a TV or other media on in the background is actually helpful. As long as it’s something that doesn’t keep you from cleaning. This is because the ADHD brain craves stimulation, and cleaning rarely provides it for long. Music is certainly a good accompaniment (as suggested in the blog post), but a good YouTube talk — not something you need to watch, but something that keeps your “monkey mind” occupied while you clean — can be an excellent adjunct to cleaning.

    4. Use a “body double.”
    This is similar to distraction, above, but with a twist: use a live person, either in person or on the phone. Have a friend come by, but not to work with you (necessarily). Or make a phone date with a friend to just talk about anything (although not “deep” conversation) while you clean. It’s amazing how much this can help an ADHD-er get stuff done. Taking the brain’s focus off the cleaning task (and on to something much more engaging) while physically doing the task works for many people. I have ADHD, and arranged with another ADHD-er to have a one-hour phone call (we used speaker phones or headsets to keep our hands free) so that we could both talk while we work. She cleaned her kitchen while I hung up clothes. We both got so much done and had a “visit” at the same time. Awesome.

    5. Take a moment to enjoy the results.
    Allowing the pleasure of having a clean environment to sink in, and feeling good about your accomplishment — even if you just clear off part of a surface, or get some clothes put away — helps build your brain’s ability to connect to that pleasurable feeling the next time you decide to clean.

    6. Take “before and after” photos.
    This is something decluttering professionals do. Often, especially with ADHD, we literally don’t *see* clutter or dirt. Our brains adjust to it until something calls attention to it — often, embarrassment in front of friends or family. When you take a photo, you actually see the clutter differently. Then, when you’ve done some cleaning, take a photo of the result. You can be so proud! Having the photos also helps you stay motivated to maintain a clear and clean spot.

    • This is fabulous! Thank you! I have learned that my messy surroundings are not because I don’t like things clean or am a bad house keeper, I am just highly ADHD and don’t see it! My brain is usually on to the next thing! Thanks for your comment and tips!

    • I loved your comments Hungry Minds. Im totally ADD X-FILES LEVEL!! UGH!! I dont notice the obvious clutter and disorder until I have to see it from a 3 person perspective… I love the photo idea. Take a quick pick of a spot in your environment, take a look and sit for 5 min with it. Then ask yourself what that same photo would look like with just 15 min of dedicated time. Take another photo after 15 min… if it takes more time and photos… just proceed. If you give up, wait a few days and notice that you’re back to square one instead of accomplishment… I have even printed out these photos and placed them near where my known Clutter traps are. Being overwhelmed is classic ADD. I know logically that if you can just START…the rest is easier than it seems. Its always that first photo that helps me identify the START.
      Peace, Love, and Happiness!
      T.

    • I used to be married to a man like that. Cleaning became soooo much more rewarding when I stopped caring what he thought and only cleaned it for my own gratification. In my case, I divorced him, in your case it could just be as simple as, “Hey, you want it done your way, you better do it yourself.”

  7. Thanks for this article. It allowed me to pinpoint that my motivational problem is that i dont get any satisfaction or pride from a the finished job. So its pointless. From now i am giving my self 2 hours on a sunday morning, and instead of paying a cleaner that has never worked out in past, i am going to pay myself the same amount and have a weekly treat with it. Also love the pick up party idea, except mine will need to be a disco as older kids!! 😂

    • Yeah I absolutely hate it too but there is no such thing as a child refusing. The may try but not accomplish. If so they will always look for you to do everything for them. Imy not saying I know more about it and actually I probably don’t as I am a young mother. Mother of 5 actually. I’m sure 28 then I have a 13 yr old daughter 12 yr old nephew (I raise) 12 yr old daughter 9 yr old son and 4 yr old daughter who I might add is like a bull in a China shop. Anyways like I said I hate cleaning and it was more of a task to make them pick up thier mess than it was to actually clean the house. The hardest part was doing my part but also staying on top of them to make sure they didn’t disappear on me and did thier stuff. One day I watched my husband as he cleaned. He was making it fun for the. He was cleaning but he had a Lazer light in his hand. As he did his part he would see something they needed to do and would say Ex: “Maria pick up that drink bottle and take it to the trash.” As he pinned to it with the light. “Mike grab that shoe and that shoe and take it to whoever it belongs to room.” So he directed them without leaving his task. And when he was done he sat down and continued to point and direct until they finished. It kept them on thier toes and motivated as well. Was kind of like a game. The problem with children is they have to be told every little move to make or they are so easily distracted. I know this method may sound weird but I use it to this day. May work for you may not. BUT do find something that works. You are your daughters mother. Not her friend and definitely not her MAIR! GOOD LUCK HUN!!!

  8. Thank you Alisha duVall!!! I have a full house of teenagers and I’m going have to try the 10 minutes pick up party!! 😀

  9. Cleaning in the morning thing doesn’t work for me. Most of the times, I delay waking up because I know I need to do that “Big” task right when I wake up. It’s too complicated to make your mind work.
    Let’s be honest. Cleaning tasks are not that big. Our procrastination problem is the big one. I totally agree with all other points you have mentioned. I think they’re great to start. Fingers crossed. I hope I will stick to them.

  10. If I could just finally get that one junk room cleaned out…I keep looking in, and then pulling the door closed in despair. I have determined to work on that room for thirty minutes, by an egg timer, per day until things look better. Maybe it won’t be perfect but that’s okay…you said. 🙂

  11. I HATE cleaning. My kids are SOOO messy. BUT- I have recently come up with what I call, the ’10 minute Pick-up Party’! Out of nowhere, I turn off the tv, and set the timer on the microwave and I tell the kids (ages 14, 12, & 10),’Pick-up party time! Ok, hurry, let’s see how much we can get done in 10 minutes! And I’ll get a treat from the store!” It seems to be like a game, and I was surprised when it worked! About every other minute I yell out, “Hurry, only 6 minutes left! ,hurry!” (whatever the timer says). They also are warned before we start, that if they aren’t participating or moving briskly, ‘party’ is over and we just clean for a half hour (or more). Now, the house doesn’t get spotless by any means, but, I can walk thru it again. It at least motivates me to keep cleaning after they have stopped. It gets some adrenaline going. I wouldn’t recommend over using it. Everyone does help with dishes, or cooking, or laundry during the week, but, I use this method when it’s starting to look like an avalanche came thru the house. Hope this helps someone with TOO many kids, like me! Haha.

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