Learn to Love the 30 Minute Cleaning Countdown

published Jan 10, 2017
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Have you noticed how the time it takes to complete a job always seems to expand to meet the hours you set aside to complete it? If you have a big work project to do, and count on it taking two days, it will generally take two days (sometimes MORE, but very rarely LESS). I don’t why, but I do know that it’s one of the sneaky ways time behaves around things we have to get done. So, I try and also make this mysterious temporal phenomenon work to my advantage, especially for housework. Since work expands to fit the time allotted, I believe I can make it contract to be doable in a shorter period of time, too. Hence, my love of setting a timer when I have to knock out a cleaning job. I do it all the time, and I think it really works. Today, we’re going to test it out, en masse!

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

Today’s Assignment

Please read the whole assignment first today, before you begin.

I want you to choose one closet in your home that could use a little attention. It doesn’t have to be the messiest one, or the one you use the most – any closet that will benefit from some decluttering, straightening or just plain old cleaning will do.

Grab a vacuum, a trash bag and an outbox/bag and put them by the closet. This is a timed Cure exercise, so also grab your phone or a kitchen timer and set it for 30 minutes…

You aren’t aiming for perfection (“better” is the goal), but even half an hour spent straightening up the closet of your choice is going to help move your home along to a better, more organized place. This is one area where all efforts make a difference and even a little bit of attention goes a long way. The lesson here is that when you focus your attention on one specific contained task or area of your home you don’t need to spend a huge amount of time to make improvements…and then you can move on to something you actually want to be doing.

Once you have gathered your supplies, start your timer and JUST JUMP IN! Don’t worry about how far you’ll get or even think about whether it will be “finished” today. Go in armed with the trash bag and the vacuum and do your best. Go for it and work FAST. See how much you can get done quickly and know that any amount of straightening, rehanging, decluttering, scrubbing and dust-bunny hunting will make a dent!

At the end of 30 minutes, when your alarm rings, shut off the vacuum and wrap things up. Take a moment to assess what else needs to happen, if anything, for the closest to be in really good shape and estimate how much time it will take you to complete that on another day. Then, put back anything you may have taken out temporarily to make room to clean and put what you decided to get rid of into your outbox or rag bin and CLOSE THE DOOR. You are done for today!

Now you know the upside to focusing your efforts on a single spot – you can work on it incrementally, when you have small blocks of time. For smaller more manageable tasks, 30 minutes will get them done. And, for the big beastly tasks, you can chip away at them a little at a time – they’ll eventually get done and it’s not a race! You can absolutely get to your goal of a clean and organized home without totally derailing the rest of your life.

More Info:
  • The January Cure 2017 Main Page
  • Download the printable pdf calendar: January Cure 2017
  • Share your progress on Instagram: #thejanuarycure
  • You Can Still Join The January Cure: