We’ve all been there. We’re tired in the evening, when the kids are finally in bed, and all we want to do is finally sit down and relax ourselves. We know we have to clean the dishes, and we do, because we will regret it the next day if we don’t. But we dread it, and most evenings we only do it half-heartedly. You know what I’m talking about? Or is that just me? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, congratulations. You must have super powers or some other genius secret, in which case, please, please share how you do it!
After a day of go-go-go cleaning the house seems like the last thing I want to do (and really, I don’t want to do it!). But a messy kitchen, bathroom, living room, whatever, stresses me. I feel so much more at ease and in control if our apartment is clean, so not cleaning is not an option – well, really not cleaning is also not an option for the obvious grossness factor and the embarrassment of people coming over on short notice…
But: I came up with a great system that leads to a clean house – in 10 minutes everyday.
Really, 10 minutes!
Do a power clean every evening before you sit down to unwind.
Set the timer to 10 min, bump up the music if that’s what you like (and if that doesn’t wake up the kids), and go to town for 10 min only and try to get as much done as possible.
That sounds like you don’t get a lot done?
Not at all. Because you know you only have 10 min, you are really efficient at what you do. During the 10 min my husband and I usually clean out the dish washer and fill it again with the dirty dishes, we do the dishes that can’t go in the dish washer, we wipe the counters and the stove, we clean the dining table, and we pick up the remaining toys from the living room. And then, on most days we still have time to do some extra, like clean the sink, wipe down the cabinets, or clean other parts of the house. In only 10 min. If I look at that list, I would easily think that we need at least 20 min for all that. And if we wouldn’t set a timer, I think we would. But thanks to the timer, we don’t.
So set the timer!
Really, that’s the crucial step!
The magic behind this cleaning trick
Knowing that it only takes 10 min, reduces the barrier to actually doing it. Plus the fact that you are working against the clock gets you pumped up to get a lot done. It’s basically the principle behind gamification. That’s the fancy term for a setup that transforms a task in a game and thus makes it fun, because it’s challenging and because we want to “win” (we’re not that different from our children after all…). Also, setting the timer creates a sense of deadline and urgency. Think back to school and university. Most likely you learned most in the 24 hours before the exam! Same mechanism here!
And even though you know all that, it still works!
Now there is a caveat: all three of us are not at home the whole day. So the amount of clutter and dirt is greatly limited. But the system still works when you stay at home – I tried. The only adjustment you need to make is to make several of those 10 minute sprints throughout the day. How many? Depends on the size of your family and the amount of activity that goes on in your house. For us three I find that about 3 sprints work fine if we stay home for most of the day.
So, who just set their timer?
Do you have other tricks that help you keep your house clean?