Clean Like an Athlete: 3 Tips to Help You Reach the Finish Line

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

If you’re feeling the spring clean and refresh bug, but haven’t yet made any progress on your goals, consider applying some performance boosting methods adapted from spring training to your home field. A clean, refreshed, and re-styled space is a serious mood boost. Carving out the time and energy to tackle it all, however, can make you want to throw the towel in before you even get started. Try experimenting with these sporty strategies before you abandon the notion altogether, in favor of going wildflower hunting, which we all know is a seasonal gateway activity leading straight to lazy summer days.

Use a Timer

Timers are serious productivity and focus enhancers. On the field, they can help you improve your 100-meter time. At home, they can help you stay focused and moving on the task at hand. Lately, it seems everyone and their sister is using the Pomodoro Technique—named for the tomato-shaped timer (“pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato”) it involves—to accomplish both daily and long-term goals, and with good reason.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that involves estimating how long a particular task will take to complete, using a basis of 25-minute intervals (“Pomodoros”), and then working without interruption for each period of time, before taking a short break.

Whether you try Pomodoro or “time boxing” (committing to working on a task for a set period of time regardless if you finish) to break up overwhelming tasks into manageable bites, or simply use a timer as a focus booster like lifestyle and design blogger Anne Sage did, who recently wrote about setting an alarm to carry her through an hour of housework, timers are an easy and effective way to help you get more done.

Instant Photo Replay

Try snapping a quick photo on your phone to give you an immediate and surprisingly fresh perspective on the space you are trying to work with or re-style. Whether a room, set of shelves, or gallery wall…somehow looking at a photo of your space enables you to see it differently with a bit more objectivity, and often inspires a more targeted approach to de-cluttering and styling to achieve the look you’re after.

I discovered this after a photographer friend did a shoot at my house. Either the camera really did add ten pounds, or my living room was way more cluttered than I realized. In any case, after looking at the photos, it was clear where my attention was most needed.

Warm Up…Your Eyes

Inspiration leads to energy and motivation. The times I feel the MOST inspired to give some love to my own place are those times when I’m fresh off of viewing a house tour on Apartment Therapy that really speaks to me. That said, my usual browsing habits often occur in the middle of a busy weekday when I’m indulging in a break from whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing in the middle of the day (it’s not re-styling my living room, I can tell you that), or in the evening when I’m relaxing. In other words, not when I am prepared to launch into a tidying, styling spree.

If you, too, are prone to bouts of inconvenient inspiration, consider strategizing to take advantage of the predictable rush of motivation you get from poring over your favorite design sources, by engaging in some visual warm-ups on those weekend days when you do have time to tackle a project.

Taking a quick perusal of your favorite house tours and images from design books, boards and pins—as a precursor to diving in—just might give you a much needed surge of energy to get to the finish line, instead of giving up as soon as your well-intentioned plans meet up with your closet of chaos.