Forget what you see online. Most people (even neat freaks) have days when they are simply not motivated enough to clean their house.
If you are struggling to motivate yourself to clean, you are not alone. By the time you are done reading this post, you’ll have all the motivation you need to start.
The absolute best way to motivate yourself to stop being lazy and clean your house is to practice the countdown method. Here’s how it works. Countdown from 3 to 1 and the moment you say ‘go’ you get up and tackle the task you have been avoiding.
The goal is to stop your mind from talking you out of doing something by giving it no time to think.
This countdown method works for just about anything you need motivation for. Don’t negotiate. Just countdown and do it. But give yourself grace if it doesn’t work the first time. It takes a while to overcome procrastination and laziness. In this post, I share 24 other practical ways to stop being lazy and clean your house.
Why You Have No Motivation To Clean The House
The first thing we should do is address why you think you’re lazy. I am not a therapist but I think it’s really important we address the deeper reason for your laziness.
First of all, don’t call yourself lazy. What we call ourselves defines our character. I don’t want you to go around describing yourself as a lazy person.
Your lack of motivation to clean your home should never define who you are.
There is a verse of the Bible in Proverbs 23: 7 that says ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he’ . Think of yourself as hardworking, see yourself as efficient and you’ll become more and more efficient.
This is not some woo-woo saying, it’s a fact. Call yourself what you want to become and you’ll notice it will start to lift your mood.
Secondly, cut yourself some slack. If you grew up in a household where domestic chores were typically done by someone else, and you are just now learning how to clean in adulthood.
Don’t automatically expect that you won’t feel overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning. Give yourself the grace to learn this new skill and form a new habit.
I also recommend these resources: The psychology of laziness and this TED talk ‘Inside the mind of a master procrastinator’.
No Fluff, Cleaning Motivation For When You Feel Overwhelmed
#1. Try The 123 Method For Laziness At Home – No Thinking
This is one of my absolute favourite ways to get things done and if you start adopting it, it will change your life! I mean it, it changed mine.
So here’s what you’ll do. Count out loud 1, 2, 3 and just get up and start whatever task you have been putting off. No negotiations, no overthinking, just do it.
I do this for a lot of things, especially when I need to get up in the morning. I have come to realise that the more I negotiate with myself, the more I procrastinate and get even more overwhelmed.
How to use the 123 method to overcome laziness for a clean house:
- Choose a room to you want to clean. This might be your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or living room.
- Count down from 3 to 1. This will help you get up and prevent the negotiation we typically have with our brain
- Set a timer for 30 seconds. This is how much time you will commit to cleaning for.
- Do one thing. This could be anything from wiping down counters to cleaning the toilet
- Just start. Clean as quickly as you can and see how much you can get done in 30 seconds
- Repeat as needed. If you finish the task before the timer goes off, great! If not, set the timer again and keep going.
Keep doing this for whatever task you have until it becomes a core habit. The 123 method is such a great way to motivate yourself.
#2. Create A “Get To Later” Pile
Creating a ‘get to later’ pile is such a simple but effective way to declutter your space quickly.
Have you ever cleared your desktop by creating a new folder and dumping all the files there? Well, this cleaning system is very much like that.
Grab a box or drawer and dump every thing cluttering up your space inside it. It’s the fastest way to get your entire space clean. That way you’ll feel less overwhelmed and have the mental clarity to sort through that box.
This method can easily get out of hand so limit yourself to one box/ drawer only. When you have more time, decide what you want to do with each item in the box.
#3. Don’t Be Too Obsessive
This is one of my favourite ways to clean when I am in a hurry or just feeling a bit lazy. I actually learnt this trick from my husband, believe it or not.
He is a MASTER at this, hence why he earned the nickname ‘packager’. This man simply knows how to ‘package’ a space to make it look clean.
When I ask my husband to clean, on the surface it looks like the space is spotless.
However, when you inspect closely, the cabinets haven’t been dusted, the floor hasn’t been mopped. You’ll might also find a crumb or two under the carpet.
While no one should clean like this all the time, this type of quick clean could be your entry point to making cleaning more of a habit.
It will make you feel less overwhelmed, give you a sense of accomplishment, and help you create a new habit.
If you have been putting off cleaning for some time now, this tip can definitely work for you.
#4. Tackle Tiny Tasks Each Day
Another effective method to overcome laziness and clean your house is to address small tasks every day. If you are anything like me, you have a specific day for cleaning.
For me, that day is Saturday mornings – a tradition my family has followed since I was a child.
We get up early and do a thorough cleaning of our house, rewarding ourselves with akara and pap (a Nigerian meal) for our hard work.
However, this routine led to a messier environment than I desired because I hadn’t formed the habit of cleaning as I went along.
It’s no wonder things ended up piling up. One of the most efficient ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed by cleaning is to approach it in bite-sized portions every day.
Tackle a load of laundry, clean the tub, or mop a section of the kitchen. Anyone can manage these tasks.
Cleaning doesn’t have to be an elaborate undertaking like my in-depth Saturday cleanings, and you don’t have to tackle everything on your cleaning to-do list.
Remember the quote- “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.
#5. Make Things More Beautiful
Have you ever gotten a pretty water bottle to remind you to drink more water? This trick is pretty much the same.
Get pretty bins, organisers, and even pretty cleaning equipment. When you make your cleaning tools pretty, it can act as an incentive for more frequent cleaning.
Here are some specific examples:
- A colourful cleaning caddy can make cleaning more appealing
- A stylish mop and bucket can make cleaning the floor more enjoyable.
- Cleaning products in your favourite colours can motivate you to clean
Making your cleaning tools more beautiful is a small change that can make a big difference in your cleaning motivation.
So next time you’re at the shops, try and pick up some pretty cleaning supplies!
#6. Create A Cleaning Caddy
Picture this: You suddenly feel some motivation to clean a very small area of your room but your cleaning tools are all the way downstairs.
Would you really want to go all the way to get them?
That’s why I love the idea of having a cleaning caddy for each room or at the very least, every floor in the house.
This makes it easy to reach the cleaning supplies and gives you more motivation to clean when you get that sudden burst of energy.
#7. One-Minute Rule
Very similar to the 123 method is the one minute rule. What cleaning task can you do in one minute. Get up and do it!
This one minute rule is my secret weapon because it tricks your brain into thinking you are only doing a task for one minute and then you end up completing the task.
Even if you cannot go further than one minute a day, one minute a day is 7 minutes a week.
Here are some important tasks you can accomplish in one minute:
- Cleaning the bowl of your toilet
- Rinse out the sink
- Empty the dishwasher
- Pick up clutter and throw in a box
- Dust the coffee table
- Take out the bin
See what I mean? One minute is enough time to do a lot of things.
This is how you trick your brains to form good habits in such seemingly little time.
#8. Invite People Over For Added Motivation
What better way to motivate you to clean than having someone pop over for dinner?
Seriously! When you invite people over, it will force you to want to clean because we care what other people think of us, and no one wants their friends to view them as a slob.
I’ll admit, sometimes it takes someone coming over for me to walk through the house and view it as an outsider would.
This always helps me spot new areas to clean that I have forgotten simply because I am so used to the house.
Sometimes, when you are too used to the house, you don’t spot the areas that need an extra touch-up. So try to invite people over more often.
#9. Consider Outsourcing
I’ll never understand why some people still judge those who get a house cleaning service. If you can afford it, this is an option you should seriously consider.
Having a cleaner can make the job of managing the weekly cleaning so much easier.
Our cleaner comes in every 2 weeks and this has made the day-to-day cleaning tasks not so overwhelming.
#10. Time Yourself
Few things motivate us quite like a ticking clock. As I write this article, I have a Pomodoro timer ticking away.
Timing your tasks helps you stay focused and get rid of distractions, especially if you’re easily distracted.
I’ll never forget a podcast by Jenna Kutcher where she shared how her mom got her and her siblings to clean.
She would say the words, “Jesus is coming, we need to get the house ready to welcome Him.” Then her mom would place a timer on the table. This always motivated her and her siblings to clean as fast as they could.
You can even make it enjoyable by choosing a playlist or a 30-minute podcast. Within that timeframe, you can complete your task.
The minutes will literally fly by, showing that you can accomplish a lot more by tracking your time.
#11. Create A Reward System
If you tell yourself you’ll watch your favourite Netflix show right after you do something, you might be more likely to do it.
So why not create a weekly reward system of some sort where you reward yourself with a show, a piece of chocolate or a mindless Instagram scroll after and only after finishing up a cleaning task?
If you are seriously lacking motivation, this might be one to try.
#12. Declutter Regularly
Create a system for yourself where you declutter your space every once in a while.
It could be every 3 or 6 months, so that things don’t pile up and you’ll generally have less stuff to clean anyway.
When you have less stuff to clean, you spend less time cleaning and avoid the crazy overwhelm you feel before cleaning.
You’ll finally kick laziness completely—it’s a complete cycle.
#13. Social Media for Accountability
As someone who has struggled with cleaning and still struggles occasionally, sharing your cleaning journey on social media can be a game-changer.
You can take a photo of the before of the messy house and the after of the tidy home, share it on Instagram stories, and use the words ‘tap to clean’.
You might get some online friends cheering you, and that can serve as some motivation. Unfortunately, you might also get some criticism.
If criticism is detrimental to your cleaning journey, don’t share at all. Try some of the other strategies.
#14. Get A Family Member or Friend Involved
If you live close to family, getting a non-judgmental member of your family to come over and help you is always a good idea.
Having that extra help can really make a difference, especially if you have been in the throes of depression.
I don’t want to pretend to know or even imagine what depression feels like. I can’t even say if you are ready to invite anyone into your space.
But if you ever feel ready, please ask for help. We weren’t made to walk through life alone. Let someone in; you might be surprised how much better you feel and how much it does for your energy levels.
#15. Combine Tasks
I learnt this idea of combining tasks from James Clear in his bestselling book, Atomic Habits. He calls it ‘Habit Stacking’.
This is where you link a new habit to an existing habit that you already do. For example, you could make it a habit to read for 15 minutes every night after you brush your teeth.
I believe this habit can be applied to cleaning motivation as well. Here are some cleaning habits you can stack:
- Clean during phone calls
- if working from home, do a load of laundry during your lunch break and take it out once you clock out of work
- Clear the dishes in the sink right after your last meal
It’s such a productive way to make the most of your time and grouping tasks will help you form better cleaning habits.
#16. Celebrate Small Wins
Having a tidy room but a messy kitchen might not feel like an achievement but it is if you have struggles with keeping your room tidy.
Celebrate the small wins. Did you do your dishes consistently, Did you clean you toilet this weekend? Girl! That is a win! Celebrate it and stop all that negative self-talk.
Give yourself a pat on the back and amp up your positive self-talk. You are making progress and I am so proud of you!
#17. Embrace Imperfection
As I mentioned earlier, my husband is a ‘packager’ whilst I am an all or nothing type of girl, but on a grand scale, he got so much more done by not being overly obsessive with cleaning.
If like me, you want to cover every inch of the space whilst cleaning, take a step back and embrace a few imperfections. Embracing imperfection means understanding that a lived-in home will have its messy moments.
This perspective has allowed me to focus on what truly matters – creating a comfortable and inviting space for myself and my loved ones.
#18. Host a Cleaning Party
Okay this sounds wild! I almost didn’t add it to the list but take a moment to hear me out. If you have close friends that that might be willing to help, take advantage of it.
Invite a few friends over, create a list of tasks, turn up the music and get to work.
Not only will get the job done faster you get to laugh bond and create memories.
But please invite the non judgemental friends only and you guys can alternate and visit each other’s homes as well.
I think it’s a fun idea, do you still think it’s wild?
#19. Establish A Daily Routine
I mentioned earlier that we have a Saturday morning cleaning routine with my family.
Even though I now prefer doing smaller tasks every day, having a day set aside for cleaning has its benefits.
You know that that’s the only thing you’re tackling that day and this can help you cement that habit.
#20. Use Cleaning As Exercise
Cleaning is such a great way to get your steps in! I remember reading this book called Glucose Revolution where the author talked about 10 minutes of activity right after a meal to lower your blood sugar.
Whether blood sugar is your concern, Cleaning after a meal can be a great habit stack as I mentioned in my 15th tip. I have gotten up to 300 steps just going back and forth resetting the kitchen and tackling dirty dishes after a meal.
You also get the added benefit of lowering your blood sugar. I call that a major win!
#21. Gameify It
There are apps out there that treat your tasks like a game. You get to create and customise characters, and earn rewards and points when you complete tasks.
You can even team up with friends for accountability. It sounds silly but it is highly motivational.
#22. Visualise The End Result
I know you are thinking, ‘Here we go with the woo-woo’ I promise it isn’t.
A study found that people who visualised themselves playing a piano were able to activate the same brain regions as people who were actually playing the piano.
This means your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real or imagined activity. So visualise a clean and organised home.
Do it often and you will eventually find yourself taking active steps to have a clean and organised home.
#23. Create a Cleaning Vision Board
Following on from my previous point, to help your mind create better mental pictures, create a cleaning vision board or Pinterest board.
These images will be of homes you admire and how clean they are. I know, I know some of these homes have cleaners and chefs that you might not be able to afford (yet). Don’t focus on that!
Simply use this board as motivation to dream and visualise what your home could look like.
It might even inspire you to create more storage options or redecorate or even declutter.
#24. Establish A Cleaning Schedule And Add It To Your Calendar
What better way to motivate yourself than to schedule it?
I often tell people that if it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist. And I truly mean it!
Since becoming a mum, the habit of scheduling and creating daily to do lists has helped me stay even more organised.
Many times our lists of things to do become so many that we simply forget.
Writing little notes down and assigning a date for it is a more reliable method to prompt yourself to clean, even if you’re not feeling particularly motivated.
#25. Financial Motivation
Finally, cleaning is expensive. I have a cleaner come in twice a month and it still makes a small dent in my bank account.
If you are have bigger financial goals and cleaning just isn’t something you can spare in your budget, that’s okay.
It means greater motivation to clean. You can even pay yourself for cleaning. For instance, every time you complete a thorough cleaning session, put a certain amount of money into a savings pot.
Seeing your money grow is such a great incentive to keep up with your cleaning.
Final Thoughts On Cleaning When You Feel Lazy
Becoming the kind of person who isn’t overwhelmed by her home cleaning starts with what you think of yourself.
You are not lazy; rather, you are simply not motivated enough.
When you find your rhythm, flow and source of motivation, cleaning will evolve into a permanent habit for you.
Also remember to be patient with yourself.
Don’t expect to become better and overcome laziness overnight. It could take some time—perhaps even a few years.
So come back to this article when you need a push and I hope you find the motivation to clean your space.
You deserve a clean home!
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