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How to Motivate Yourself to Clean Your Space

Have you ever walked into someone else’s home, seen how spotless it is, and been green with envy? If you are like a lot of people, you may struggle to find a place for every piece of paper, book, t-shirt, cup, and pretty much everything else that you own. How do people who are always neat do it, especially when life is already so busy? Well, it really comes down to habits: they are always putting things away or cleaning while the rest of us set something down and tell ourselves we will get to it later. If you are a lifelong clutter bug, how do you make the transition to orderly? 

Accept that it may take a while – a long while – to clean up

If neatness is new to you, then it is likely that it may take days, perhaps even weeks, to straighten up. The frustrating thing about cleaning is that while we are tired of the mess, we want it all to be perfect in the snap of our fingers. We want to go from disaster to ready for Better Homes & Gardens overnight, and unfortunately, that is not going to happen. We have to submit ourselves to the process, which takes time. Maddening as it is, though, if we stick with it, we will gradually see our homes be transformed.

Divide each room into small sectors

If a room will be particularly challenging, it can be less overwhelming to divide it into parts and to tackle each one separately. For example, let’s say your living room is absolute chaos. Rather than go at the entire space, clean up the books on your couch first and then commit to keeping them that way forever. Then shift your efforts to your coffee table and clear away the cups and dishes and, you guessed it, commit to keeping that clean, too. Over time, this all adds up, and your living room will be, if not spotless, then a whole lot more presentable.

Be mindful of what you do and be ready to change

When you change into your pajamas at the end of the day, pause for a moment and consider where you will put your jeans and t-shirt. Over a chair or in the closet? When you are done using a pen, will you toss it aside on the counter or put it back in the drawer? Every action we take, moment by moment, can be an opportunity to change our habits. Monitor yourself and ask yourself if what you are about to do will make your home neater or messier.

Ask for help if the task is just too big for one person

Sometimes the cleanup is going to be a very big project. When you must sort out the years of stuff in your garage, maybe the solution is to enlist the help of a friend. Offer to buy them lunch one Saturday if they will come over and help you straighten up. Be honest about the work that will be involved, and be respectful of their time.

Clean at specific times of each day

New habits can make a lot of difference in the state of your home over time. Instead of trying to clean for hours in one big flurry of action, it can be more effective to clean for 10 minutes each day. Set a timer for 6:30-6:40 a.m. or some other hour that works for you and dedicate that time to cleaning. You might not think that 10 minutes each day is much, and you are right – but it is more than doing nothing! 

Above all, remember to define for yourself what “neat” means. You don’t have to please anyone except yourself, so if you are perfectly fine with how you live even though there are papers stacked everywhere, then to each their own.