How to Get Motivated to Clean (When You Don’t Want To)

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I’ve already shared my tips and tricks for getting my home clean naturally, but no matter which products I use at times I have trouble even getting started.

One obvious solution (so obvious I didn’t realize it for a while!) that’s helped is remembering I’m not the only person who lives here and I don’t have to do it all myself!

Still, some days late nights with toddlers, frequent travel, or the moving target of business projects can take up the bulk of my energy and get our cleaning schedule off track.

Why We Get Overwhelmed

Despite wanting a clean home to live in, it’s easy to lose motivation to actually clean it. Here are some of the most common reasons I can think of for not wanting to clean:

  • Fatigue – Understandable, especially if you have toddlers! Cleaning is sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day.
  • Seems like a huge project – When you have a messy house, it seems like cleaning up will take forever (in reality, it probably won’t take more than a couple of hours).
  • Don’t want to clean up for everyone else – When you’re the main cleaner in the home, you can sometimes get sick of picking up after others.
  • I just cleaned! – Sometimes it seems like you clean and the next thing you know it’s a mess again. No one wants to start cleaning all over again!
  • Busy – Whether you’re a working mom, stay-at-home mom, or work-from-home mom, you don’t have much extra time. It feels impossible to add even a single task to your to-do list.
  • Overwhelm – This is a big one. Many of us just feel too overwhelmed by the mess to get started.

Despite all of these completely legitimate reasons for not wanting to clean, we still have to get it done. These are some tricks that have helped me to stay motivated to clean, even when I (really) don’t want to.

How to Get Motivated to Clean (Even When You Really Don’t Want To)

It’s gotta be done whether we want to clean or not. We’ve tried these ways of getting pumped to clean the house, and they usually work!

Clean for Yourself First

In every family, there is usually a “tidy one” and variations of “less tidy ones.” If you are the tidy one, you probably feel a bit resentful for how much cleaning you do compare to your family members (just a guess).

But that is never helpful (for you or anyone else). Instead of thinking about cleaning as a chore no one is helping with, think about it as something you do to make your environment enjoyable and comfortable for yourself. If you are decor-minded, reward yourself with an extra step toward improving your space that you will really enjoy, like adding some hygge touches or setting up that coffee bar you’ve always wanted.

Start Small

If you’re overwhelmed by clutter and don’t know where to start, just find one thing to begin with. Some people like to choose one category of things to pick up. For example, trash or toys. Then when that category has been removed from the mess and put away they move onto another category.

Another tactic is choosing a small space — a part of the kitchen counter for example — and clean that space first. Then move onto another spot. Going small and choosing just one task at a time helps you to zero in on what needs to be done and not feel overwhelmed.

Get more tips on decluttering in this podcast episode with Cas from Clutterbug.

Start Early (Eat That Frog)

Author Brian Tracy wrote a book based on a Mark Twain quote, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning”, meaning that if you get the worst thing out of the way early in the day, you will be more productive and happier.

So, getting cleaning out of the way early means you will have the rest of the day to do other things (while enjoying your clean home!).

For most people, the morning is the time they have the most energy for cleaning. However, find your own personal time of high energy and make that a time for cleaning.

Create a Cleaning Routine and Schedule

Create a cleaning schedule for cleaning that works for you and keeps you motivated. Setting aside an entire day for cleaning may work for some, but doesn’t work for everyone. Small blocks of time work well for most people. For example, you could set aside 25 minutes for cleaning and then break for 5-10 minutes. This kind of time block is great for moms with little ones but works for others too.

Because you’re working in small blocks you can focus 100 percent on what you’re doing. Plus, the promise of a break helps keep motivation up. Use a timer to keep track of your time blocks and breaks. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in 1 to 2 hours.

Additionally, you may want to assign certain tasks to certain days of the week. This helps you get to everything without having to do too much on any given day. Also, be sure to print out a cleaning checklist so you know what cleaning tasks need to be done. This list is broken down by room of the house (living room, bathroom, dining room, etc.) for simplicity.

If you feel daunted by the idea of training kids and getting them on a schedule, I highly recommend this book for teaching kids a zone cleaning method that works.

Make a Game of It

If you find using a timer for your cleaning blocks is helpful, consider making it into a game that you can include the kids in. Set your timer for a short length of time (10 minutes is a good amount) and see how many toys you can pick up in that amount of time. You can also use a stopwatch and see how quickly you can get the kitchen cleaned up (and then try to beat the time tomorrow). In our house, we love using this visual timer so the little kids can play along.

Get Organized

There’s nothing worse than having to traipse around the house trying to find the supplies you need. Instead, make a cleaning station where all of your natural cleaning supplies and brushes live. I like Branch Basics cleaners because they are plant-based, (read: safe) and effective, but they’re also versatile and I can use one cleaner for most of the house.

Listen to Music or Podcasts

One of the reasons it’s hard to get motivated to clean is because we’d rather be doing something else. But if you listen to upbeat music or a favorite podcast, you can get the cleaning done while enjoying yourself. We’ve even been known to use this time to listen to a motivating TED talk or audiobook together.

Make It a Family Event

Speaking of getting the kids to help, there’s one cleaning rule in our house: it’s a family responsibility. It can be easier to do everything ourselves but that may not be the best plan! Kids need to learn how to take care of their environment.

Additionally, the more hands on-deck the faster cleaning will go and the sooner you will be done and ready for some quality time. It’s a win-win. When cleaning becomes a family affair, you might be surprised to find it’s actually fun!

Keep the End in Mind

It’s easy to get discouraged when you have to clean but don’t want to. But to stay motivated, keep the end in mind. Think about how nice it will be to relax in your nice clean space, or open the door for a surprise drop-in. Think about how much less stressed you will be with everything in its place. It’s worth the time it takes (and I bet it will take less time than you think).

Reward Yourself

A reward is a great motivator! After finishing a cleaning time block or a set of them, reward yourself with a nice cup of tea, dinner out, or an outing with the family. Looking forward to your reward will help keep you motivated and focused.

Are You Motivated Yet?

Next time you feel discouraged, take a look at these tips for cleaning motivation. I even made a list to hang on the fridge for the kids (and for me, let’s be honest) for inspiration on those days when we’re not feeling it. It’s helped a lot and I’m sure you have more great ideas we could add as well!

What is your best tip for staying motivated to clean when you don’t feel like it?

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