3 Mind Tricks that Will Get You Going on a Big Clean—Without Realizing It

published Sep 28, 2016
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Just like the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the journey to a totally clean apartment—from floorboards to ceiling fans—likely begins with just a ten-minute timer. Even if you don’t feel up to tackling the chores you need to handle, you can get your mind in the mood for cleaning with a simple mental motivational exercise. Here are three to try that help keep “cleaning house” from seeming like an overwhelming task.

“One Soapy Sponge”

You may have heard of this one, as it’s made the rounds before. The idea is that if you’re faced with an insurmountable mountain of dishes in the sink, just decide that you’ll clean as many as you can finish with a single soapy sponge. Once the sponge is spent, you can quit and move on to Netflix or a nap or whatever is calling your name.

What really happens: No surprise, once you’re actually standing at the sink and part of the way up dish mountain, the keen thing to do is just finish them all.

The After-Work 10-Minute Timer

When you first arrive home from work or school or whatever has kept you busy today, the last thing you want to do is get started on the laundry or the floors or whatever needs cleaning at the moment. But when you change into sweatpants and retreat to the couch “just for a quick break,” it’s likely that you’ll stay there all night. Instead, make it a habit to set a timer for 10 minutes when you get home from work and dedicate that short, doable time to cleaning or picking up around the house. When the timer’s up, you can immediately quit to the couch guilt-free.

What really happens: You’ll shut off the timer and finish whatever you were just doing. And maybe even get started on something else.

“Ten Things”

This game-like solution comes from an Apartment Therapy commenter, BadSeed1980: “A round of Ten Things consists of putting away ten things in your house. These can be anything from, say, folding the throw blanket and putting it over the back of the couch, to putting away all the dishes in the drainer, to hanging up a coat, to sorting/shredding/recycling the mail. You just find ten things to do as fast as you can: no prioritizing, no making lists, no plan of attack. It’s basically the first ten things that meet your eye that are not in the place you want them to be.”

What really happens: Ten things turns into twenty. Then thirty. Then you look up and your living room is spotless. Like magic!

Do you employ any mind tricks to help you get started on cleaning?