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June 20, 2010 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Calling everyone who gets easily bored. How do you clean your house? How do you cook?

I think this is a fairly simple question. Those of you who have trouble dealing with too much unstructured time especially alone, those of you who get easily bored and tend to fill time by jumping on the internet -- how do you clean your house? how do you cook?

I pay my bills. I go jogging. I hang out alone with myself on long car drives. I analyze long detailed documents at work. I just cannot bring myself to spend time alone cleaning or cooking. Almost immediately, I feel bored and lonely. About the only thing that works is cleaning while I'm on the phone, but if nobody's home on the other end, I'm out of luck. My place is almost always kind of a mess.

Today, my only goal was to clean up my house, but what actually happened was that I'd spend ten minutes cleaning and then find myself back on Metafilter. I need to spend a few days really getting this place in shape, so I really need to somehow clean for longer stretches.

Do you have any strategies to suggest? Have you overcome this?
posted by salvia to Home & Garden (52 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
 
I try to clean when people are over; or invite people over for activities that require me to cook and/or clean specific parts of my house. Cleaning alone can be very dispiriting. Luckily I have the sort of friends who like to hang out in my kitchen while I clean it.

Side note: maybe review some of that internal programming... "need to spend a few days really getting this place in shape"... says who :)
posted by gregglind at 8:14 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Watch a tv show you like and jump up during the commercials to put away as much stuff as you can really fast. You can get a surprising amount done this way. (And it short-circuits the dread prospect of spending "a few days" cleaning, ugh.)
posted by Fifi Firefox at 8:17 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I will recommend for cleaning looking into Flylady. At first glance it seems pretty hokey - there's a lot of pink and purple and cutsie involved - but it basically gives you a simple set of tasks to perform each day, recommends using a timer set for 10 or 15 minutes, and just kind of gets you working on doing things bit by bit.

The big realization for me was that most of the stuff I was procrastinating or avoiding only took about 5 minutes to do.

Myself, I like to put on loud music while I do things in the house alone; it keeps me moving and it makes things seem less alone.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:21 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Podcasts! I can even clean a bathroom if I have Savage Love to listen to. I cleaned the kitchen today listening to the Metafilter podcast (thanks Matt, Jessamyn and Cortex).
posted by readery at 8:23 PM on June 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


Music helps for me. High-energy, driving beat - anything you can dance to, you can clean to.
posted by Quietgal at 8:23 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm you. Hi buddy! Skipped those dishes and vacuuming today. Really the only thing that makes me go white tornado on this place is if company is coming over. It can even be the cable guy, but it's better if it's friends or family. Seriously that's really the only thing. Even the old I've-got-a-project-due trick from college doesn't work as well as company. Have a dinner party - it will obligate you and set a deadline you can't get out of.
posted by Askr at 8:24 PM on June 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


I put tv or music on when I clean.
posted by canadia at 8:24 PM on June 20, 2010


Podcasts. Seriously, it's the perfect medium for housework and cooking. It's handsfree, eyeball-free, free as in beer, and there's tons of good content out there, I walk my dogs, cook, clean, and garden to the stuff. And theres something on just about any topic you can think of. Audiobooks can be good too, but they require a little more attention.
posted by condour75 at 8:24 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am shocked at how little time those tasks take when I finally get around to doing them. My latest trick is to queue up a Radiolab Shorts, and promise myself I'll do whatever until it's over. The shorts are 10-15 minutes long - interesting enough to keep my mind occupied, and just the right amount of time to get something productive done.

I just finished washing every single dirty dish (by hand, since I don't have a dishwasher) in the time it took to listen to one of their episodes. Shocking, really!
posted by ErikaB at 8:25 PM on June 20, 2010


This will definitely be a YMMV suggestion but...I find I'm more inclined to do both when I use, er, chemical aids. Cleaning, specifically, can be a much more extended affair if I've indulged in a little herbal remedy and am listening to some great music. I get in the zone and I just do it.

I also am much more inclined to cook if I pour a glass of yummy red wine and put on my jazz playlist. Then it feels like a party (for one!) and all of a sudden it's the thing I want to be doing most in the whole world.

Apologies if neither is your thing.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:25 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I stay on top of a really surprising number of TV shows by putting an episode of something or other on every time I do chores or cook. Cleaning or doing something else productive cancels out the brain rot, so it doesn't even have to be something classy.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:29 PM on June 20, 2010


I listen to This American Life while I cook. It's really fun. I'm working through the Favorites section.

I still haven't mastered the art of cleaning. (I just sighed disapprovingly at myself and a couple dust bunnies rolled like tumble weeds across my hardwood floor.)
posted by sallybrown at 8:29 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and a glass of wine is good, but after two, you might just be like, "Whatever, who needs cleaning."
posted by oinopaponton at 8:29 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


(as a side effect with audiobooks, key scenes may get permanently fused with the task at hand. I can't think of the father's flying-over-Detroit scene in Middlesex without thinking of bathroom caulk.)
posted by condour75 at 8:30 PM on June 20, 2010


A timer.
Set timer for half an hour, clean, chop veggies or whatever. Timer goes ding. Set timer for 10 minutes and slack off. Timer goes ding, back to work with a set timer for another half hour.

Another thing that helps is to break the tasks down into their smallest possible parts, for example instead of trying to clean the living room, go through the living room and put all your books away and do each following task the same way. Don't approach the room as one solid chores, but as a list.

If computers are too much of a lure, turn the computer off or in my case, set it to do something that makes browsing impossible. For example when I download music my internet connection acts all spotty, forcing me away from the screen and into task time. Other options include virus scanning, de-fragmenting, updating your version windows (with numerous annoying reboots to better pry you from the screen), unplugging it, unplugging your modem, locking your laptop into a box, letting someone else (say a well behaved child) use your computer, etc...

If you simply can't tear yourself away, there's an autistic friendly trick of pointing your body, or at least your finger in the direction you want to go. This seems to force your brain to recall it should be getting up.
posted by Phalene at 8:33 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Make a special playlist. Put on an old TV series you like on the computer, preferably a good comedy. Load your iPod with a light audiobook, like a murder mystery, or (especially if you think of cleaning as 'wasted' time, like I sometimes do) get a Teaching Company course to listen to while you clean. All this stuff can make large chunks of time disappear, and if you don't want to be distracted, just revisit old favorites.

The best thing I can recommend though is to try to look at cooking and cleaning time as special-alone mental-relaxation time, as opposed to lonely boring time. Allow yourself to zone out, daydream, reflect, sort through plans in your head, fantasize about telling off someone you're mad at etc. Cooking and cleaning are fairly mindless and I realize that when I actually allow myself to unwind in the process, I have a lot more energy when I'm done.

Also - don't worry. You sound like you're good at getting things done when they need to be, so if you're putting something off, it may be because on some level you feel it's not really crucial to get done right now.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:34 PM on June 20, 2010


I can only do it if its time rather than task limited; "clean up the house" is just to big a job, but "clean for an hour, starting with the living room" is do-able. Podcasts are indeed a good timer; so is flylady, and they can be combined.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:37 PM on June 20, 2010


Rock music and stimulants.
posted by dhammond at 8:38 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


(On preview, this echos some of what people have written above.)

I find that watching a TV show while cooking (on a laptop at the back of the counter) works decently well. Audio + subtitles works nicely for when you're doing both things that require you to look at them and noisy things. If it's a recipe that involves long waiting periods during which I get bored and want to wander off and do other things I try and set a timer so I don't get too caught up in whatever. Another thing that works nicely for cooking-down-time is cleaning whatever dishes or surfaces you have already used, thus by the time your food is ready almost everything is already washed.

For cleaning, I like to listen to energetic music. Sometimes, audio book or podcasts work well, but cleaning often involves too much noise or moving around the house that would interrupt something like that. What seems to be most effective is having a list of reasonable-sized items that will get done this cleaning session (In this 30-60 minutes of cleaning today, I will...), rather than a more-vague or broader goal (The whole house needs to be cleaned, so I will make some/enough progress).
posted by JiBB at 8:38 PM on June 20, 2010


Music or podcasts really help me; the most recent Mefi podcast was so long, I scrubbed my entire kitchen, including the fridge! It was magnificent.

I also try to multitask cleaning when other stuff is happening. For example, every night or so I boil a kettle for some tea. While the water is heating, I know I have enough time to tidy up the kitchen and load the dishwasher and clean everything in the sink. And I don't give myself a hard time if I can't manage all of that before the tea is ready. Or, if I'm catching up on a recorded tv show, I'll often deliberately not fast forward through the commercials, and get up and clean during them. I can always rewind a bit if I take too long, and sometimes I find the attention span to keep cleaning long enough to pop back in and pause the show. I think a lot of this sort of thing involves my knowing there's a set endpoint to my drudgery, and at that endpoint there's some kind of reward, like a yummy cup of tea or the conclusion of my tv show.

Really though, I'm quite messy. The only thing that really gets me to clean is inviting people over. Company guilts me into so much more hard work than anything I'd do for myself! Sometimes, because I have really weird hours, I'll invite people over during times that I secretly know they probably can't make, and the impetus to clean remains even when they get back to me with a "sorry can't make it, maybe next time!"

When you need to clean big, daunting things (like your entire house, yeesh!) you might find it helpful to make a really detailed list. Like, divide every task into every possible sub-task you can manage. Write it all down and then every time you do even a teeny tiny task, you can cross it off and feel really accomplished.
posted by Mizu at 8:39 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have successfully tried the FlyLady method of cleaning. I can't vouch for the rest of her approach to life, but her actual cleaning method, as I used it, worked well, especially when the house was out-of-control dirty:

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Pick a room and clean in that room until the timer goes off.

Reset the timer for another 15 minutes. Pick a second room and clean in that room until the timer goes off.

Set the timer for another 15 minutes and go back to the first room. Pick up where you left off.

After you've done 45 minutes' worth of cleaning, give yourself a 15-minute break (on MeFi, for instance). Then pick another two rooms and repeat. Or, if the first two rooms are still in need, keep on with those.

While you are doing this, do NOT: clean out closets, reorganize cupboards, or do your laundry. Just focus on decluttering, dusting, vacuuming, wiping, etc. The other activities will just suck your attention away.

The beauty of this method is that you get to stop with one task after 15 minutes, and hey, 15 minutes is easy, right? (Well, I found it to be so, anyway.) I find that breaking up a long task into 15-minute chunks makes it less overwhelming and more likely to get done.

Or, really, what sciencegeek said. (Thanks, Preview!)
posted by That's Numberwang! at 8:39 PM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here is another vote for podcasts. I do all of my cooking and cleaning listening to something. One of my favorites is called Too Beautiful to Live, which I like because it's on every weekday so there is always something to listen to.
posted by apricot at 8:39 PM on June 20, 2010


For me, doing 15-30 minutes of cleaning a day is much easier than trying to force myself to clean the whole apartment once a week. I have a fixed schedule of chores for each week, e.g. every Monday I clean the bathroom, Tuesdays I dust and mop the living room, etc. I never reschedule chores; if I decide to skip one of my daily tasks I leave it undone until the next week. Because the short-term annoyance of spending 15 minutes vacuuming or whatever is less than the medium-term annoyance of living with a linty carpet all week, I hardly ever skip a day of chores.

Putting on some music or a movie you've seen before for background noise is also a good way to make cleaning less boring.
posted by homuncula at 8:40 PM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I often cook while I clean while I watch tv. I'll chop things for the cooking while the show is on. Once the commercials come on, I'll stop chopping and work on my cleaning task. When the show comes back on, I continue chopping. Once the show is over (and hopefully my chopping is about done), I'll start the active cooking. When there is downtime in the active cooking, I'll keep up the cleaning.
posted by cheerwine at 8:42 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll echo what everyone else has said in that I utilize both TV and podcasts. In my old apartment, the kitchen was completely cut off from everything else. I'd take my iPod dock into the kitchen and jam out while people were doing other things. Now, I can see the TV, so I usually just crank the volume and watch something.
posted by SNWidget at 8:50 PM on June 20, 2010


Music and a specific time limit. 15 minutes to tidy everything I see...now, GO! 10 minutes to do a bathroom...now, GO! And the music is LOUD.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:00 PM on June 20, 2010


Podcasts and audiobooks, thanks Audible.com!! I give my self rewards, if I wash the floor I will spend 10 minutes doing something I like. But I have to admit, I no longer cook. I abhor it.
posted by fifilaru at 9:31 PM on June 20, 2010


Can you afford $100 a week? Get a maid, stop worrying about cleaning.
posted by halogen at 9:35 PM on June 20, 2010


This doesn't precisely answer you question, but I think it may be helpful anyway:

The only strategy that's really worked for me to keep my apartment clean is to keep it from getting so messy/cluttered that I need to spend hours to clean it. Once I finally got the clutter cleaned up for once, I came up with a checklist that I'd spend about 15 minutes running through each day (i.e. pick up & put away stuff that's on the floor, hang up laundry, etc). Eventually that stuff became a habit, and my apartment is much cleaner.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cook because I'm hungry and I don't really like eating out most of the time. I don't really like doing it, though. So I make really easy foods. Saute some fish or beef, steam some veggies, make some rice or pasta. I make fried rice in big batches so I can eat leftovers the next couple of days. I wash dishes while waiting for water to boil or while waiting for the microwave to go DING!

I don't have trouble with cleaning once I get the energy up to actually start it. But having a dirty room saps all of my energy so starting can be quite the hassle. I think I offer myself rewards or just get to the point of utter disgust at the state of my room (luckily this bar has been set rather high by my kind of clean-freak-y mother).
posted by that girl at 10:45 PM on June 20, 2010


You guys are really great. Thank you. I am loving this window into how all of you manage to clean and cook.

Good yellow flag around "need to spend a few days really getting this place in shape." I can hear how that sounds. I have a move coming up, and would really like to have a much cleaner, less cluttered, home when I move, so I'm hoping to spend some good effort decluttering before then. Maybe it'd help to rephrase that to be less "need to" and more "want to," and to think in short increments, and not days. :) It's neat to hear how many of you clean your house in 15 minute bursts. So many good answers. Thanks!
posted by salvia at 11:07 PM on June 20, 2010


TV or music. You'll find that the majority of TV shows do not require you to constantly look at the screen - you can get most of it from the dialogue. Weirdly enough, I like to clean while watching/listening to design shows.
posted by radioamy at 12:09 AM on June 21, 2010


It helps to identify what you simply will not do. For me this was cleaning. I'm happy to cook, wash clothes, do the dishes, take out the rubbish etc, but hate vacuuming etc. So I got a cleaner once a week for those tasks and the dustballs have vanished. I also made a couple of things part of my routine: after my shower, quickly spray and wipe down the sink and bath. Do the dishes listening to a podcast whilst my partner is in the shower, and also clean the counters and sweep the floor. Finally, it always helps to go into the kitchen and stare hard at dirty dishes until I can't bear their presence any more.
posted by tavegyl at 1:05 AM on June 21, 2010


I use almost every one of these techniques, but here are some more that (I think?) haven't been mentioned yet:

Revulsion Therapy? Every time I watch "How Clean is Your House," or similar, or see a site or documentary about hoarding/squalor, I can't hold myself back from cleaning. It's absolutely reliable inspiration for me when I need it.

Tidiness Radius. I tend to keep the area directly around wherever I spend the most time naturally (by which I mean relatively effortlessly) neat and tidy, so if I need to clean up the dining room (a room that isn't used for dining, and tends to collect junk), I move my laptop in there and set up an area of operations for a while. Since I can't stand the clutter in my eyesight, I'll start organizing, tossing, dusting, sweeping, & making pretty right away.

Picky-Uppy, Putty-Downy: A game I borrowed from former mefite occhiblu, in which every time you stand up, you find something from the room you are in that needs to go somewhere else. You pick it up, and put it down in the proper place. Are you standing up to go to the bathroom? Pick up that hairbrush and take it with you. Getting up for a glass of water? Pick up any plates or other kitchenware that might have found its way to the room you are in. Going to put on a sweater? Pick up all the clothes that might be lying around and put them away or toss in the washing machine. And so on.

You can also this make this "Stand Up and Wash a Cup"... every time you stand up to do something, wash an item. When I do this, the dishes don't collect at all, so I never have to face that sink bulging with crusty pans and greasy plates. Big, big, help.

Also, very important for me: no carpeting. Hulk HATE carpet. Hardwood floors, parquet, terrazzo, tile, all fine - but no carpet; I use throw rugs where I want it warmer/cozier and I don't have to worry about ground-in dirt and grime. And a close second: my own washing machine!!! After years of laundromats, having a washing machine seems so luxe that washing clothes never feels like a chore, so I never let the dirty clothes pile up. (I would never be without a washer again. I used to think that I had to have a dryer if I had a washer, but I've been washing and line drying on a rack now for over 10 years, because that's the way it's done here. Quite a revelation.)

I'm currently trying to get into the habit of addressing one room per day of the week, so that I spend a half hour each day cleaning the room for that day, at whatever level it needs. If it's already tidy, it gets deeper and deeper cleaning. We have a small place, so its like, Monday - Kitchen, Tuesday - Bedroom, Wednesday - Bathroom, Thursday - Living Room, Friday - Dining Room, Saturday - Courtyard & Patio, Sunday - Hallways and Front Entry.

As for cooking, I only do meals that take a long time to prepare when I have a bottle of wine and a conspirator -- both of them in the kitchen with me as I chop and peel and simmer. Otherwise, I make dishes that don't take that much time - normally 30 minutes or less. There are tons and tons of delicious and healthful recipes that are also fast and simple. Yesterday we had beef patties (pre-formed, from the butcher), stir-fried broccoli, and Greek fava that I had made the evening before and kept in the fridge. This took as long to prepare as it took for the burgers to cook - less than 30 minutes. Today we'll have salmon steaks, Greek salad, and again the fava - which will probably take about 20 minutes. Tomorrow maybe we'll have an overstuffed vegetable and cheese omelet and green salad, and the next day stir-fried pepper steak and spinach salad - all quick 'n easy items. :)
posted by taz at 2:47 AM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I grab my laptop, stream some World Cup and move from room to room. I had the same problem until I combined TV with actually getting stuff done and satisfied all parts of my brain.
posted by Hiker at 3:21 AM on June 21, 2010


Make your house easier to clean.

- don't put furniture where it's difficult to clean behind it
- don't accumulate ornaments that need dusting
- don't buy clothes that need ironing
- don't hoard stuff you don't need
- make sure you have enough storage for all your stuff, and make sure that the storage for a particular thing is close to the location where you normally use that thing.
- put a bin by the door for the junk mail and whatnot
- put a shoe rack by the door. take your shoes off by the door and put them on it.
- clean up messes when you make them, it's quicker
- put pans and dishes to soak immediately you have finished using them
- consider buying a dishwasher and/or a roomba

On a similar theme, own decent pans and sharp knives. This makes cooking far less of a chore.

Then, every time you see something that's dirty or untidy, spend a minute sorting it out, even if you do a half hearted unfinished job. You're complaining about getting distracted AWAY from housework... turn it around and make sure you get distracted from other stuff TO housework!
posted by emilyw at 4:28 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I use most the above methods, plus, I try to use the feeling of boredom to understand how I deal with being alive. Boredom isn't just one thing but a whole host of feelings hiding under a single word. Sometimes it's really anger (why do I have to do this?) or loneliness (I'm all alone with these tasks) or envy (I'll bet so-and-so never has to do this!) or just plain fear of being in the moment.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:49 AM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I watch TV or listen to podcasts. Something to hold my concentration while I'm doing something deadly boring.

Also, if I am cleaning the house I make the rule that I can only concentrate on one room at a time. Sometimes I will wander from room to room, picking this up and that up, but then when I'm "done" nothing has really changed. If I'm picking up the kitchen, I am ONLY picking up the kitchen and if stuff in the kitchen needs to go somewhere else in the house, I put it all in the corner to deal with when I am done with the kitchen.
posted by sutel at 6:06 AM on June 21, 2010


I only "work" until noon on Saturday, meaning I do all vacuuming, laundry, etc etc before noon, and then I consider it done for the weekend. If it doesn't get done by noon, it doesn't get done.

Cooking I enjoy, so I tend to do a lot of it on the weekends so I have food for the week. I find laundry folding really tedious so if it's my turn to do that I usually do it during a phone call.

Basically -- time limits and distraction.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2010


I have a move coming up, and would really like to have a much cleaner, less cluttered, home when I move, so I'm hoping to spend some good effort decluttering before then.

When you unpack, put everything actually away, don't just think "well I don't know where I want to put this right now so I'll just put it on the table and figure it out later" because that's how I ended up with an office full of random crap. If you really, really don't know what to do with the object, consider giving it away or renting a storage unit, but do that on your next day off, don't accumulate a pile.

Who is the friend or family member you're most concerned about looking good in front of? For me, it's my mother-in-law. Invite that person over once a week for dinner. Your house will be clean.
posted by desjardins at 7:00 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I drink one of those powdered energy drink mixes from Rite Aid, and feel so jittery that if I'm not doing something, my head will explode. So, I clean. If I had a little more money, I would hire a maid sevice to come in and do one huge massive cleaning, because for me the biggest chore is getting to a baseline clean where alll your chores are just maintaining the clean rather than a total overhaul of a dirty place.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2010


Who is the friend or family member you're most concerned about looking good in front of? For me, it's my mother-in-law. Invite that person over once a week for dinner. Your house will be clean.

This is very helpful in timing a major cleanup rather than a "tidy up". I have found inspiration by having some kind of dinner thing at my house every three or four weeks with the added upside getting invited back.
posted by readery at 7:43 AM on June 21, 2010


Seconding taz's "Picky-Uppy, Putty-Downy," also known as "never go anywhere empty-handed" - if you leave the room, take something with you that belongs in the room you're headed to. It doesn't replace occasional hardcore cleaning, but it keeps general untidiness at a level that feels manageable, which in turn makes actual cleaning much less of a headache.

Sometimes peppy music is good, but I tend to find NPR or some other talk radio station even more useful, since the radio pauses for no man or lady. If I am even marginally invested in knowing what happens next, radio makes it a lot less likely that I'll just quit mid-task out of boredom.
posted by josyphine at 8:00 AM on June 21, 2010


Oh, and a glass of wine is good, but after two, you might just be like, "Whatever, who needs cleaning."
posted by oinopaponton at 10:29 PM on June 20 [1 favorite +] [!]


Eponysterical?
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:02 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I do the timer thing. Instead of 15 minute spurts, though, if I'm feeling really ADD I'll do 5 minutes worth of dish-washing, vacuuming, or dusting, and then 2 minutes of playing a computer game or watching a TV show (Online, so I can pause it. Something like Hoarders really motivates me!) It is the best way for me to not get bored, and slowly but surely things get crossed off the To Do list.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:36 AM on June 21, 2010


I do a lot of things already mentioned:

If the computer is slowing you down, LeechBlock yourself or set it to some task that will keep you from browsing (backup, defrag, or just... off... all the way off.)

Turn on something to listen to - I like to cook to classical, and clean to almost anything that has a beat. Or if you have a iPod like thingy, put podcasts or music on that.

Make a list. Like an actual short list of things to do, broken down into reasonable chunks - one room at a time. So not * clean the house but:
* mop bathroom
* clean tub
and so on - check them off when you've finished them.

Get yourself in the habit of taking five or ten minutes and doing a quick clean-up before you go to bed; just a look-see around the house to find what could go back where. The more often you break up cleaning into short very limited segments, the cleaner your place will stay.

Don't try to do an all-day spree - you'll just end up overwhelmed and pissed that you've "wasted" a whole day cleaning.

If you're moving, put stuff that you want out of the house in a pile. Then block off an hour to write it up and post on a local Freecycle list. Bet it takes you half that time, unless you've got a monster load of stuff. It's just the actual sitting down and doing that is a drag.
posted by canine epigram at 10:37 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't usually drink coffee or soda.... I've found that knocking back a diet soda with caffeine in it really helps me power through unpleasant tasks.
posted by bq at 11:47 AM on June 21, 2010


I have ADHD so I am particularly bad about staying focused while cleaning. The only trick that works for me is to: (1) Procrastinate really bad so that I have a high level of anxiety about the state of my home, (2) Invite people over, (3) Use the rush of panic to fuel me to clean.

Checklists and the like don't work. I pretty much just invite people over weekly to force myself into cleaning.

With regards to cooking, I either get my spouse to cook or bring my netbook into the kitchen to use while keeping an eye on whatever's simmering.
posted by tastybrains at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2010


Nthing podcasts, audiobooks, and lectures from The Teaching Company. I can't listen to them while doing nothing, so I have to have something to occupy my hands, and cleaning often works.

Also, inviting people over. The state of the house then panics me and I clean it. Not thoroughly in the way I want, but good enough for government work.

If I need something to spur me on, watching episodes of Hoarders on A&E is usually good for a long cleaning jag, as if I have to prove to myself that I am not that bad.
posted by telophase at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2010


Again, I just wanted to thank everyone for your great responses. They are both inspiring and useful. Also, imagining all of you finding ways to get yourself to clean makes it feel less lonely and more like "everybody's doing it." Thank you!
posted by salvia at 11:29 PM on June 22, 2010


Nthing podcasts. But also, a bit contradictory to everyone, I like to do the work in one big chunk. To help prevent me from being distracted, I work hard and fast.

Trying to turn everything into a speedrun keeps me super focused on the task because I am constatly evaluating my technique. As I write this, I realize it sounds a little crazy, but working up a sweat and hauling out two or three bags of trash in one cleaning session is incredibly cathardic for me. YMMV of course, but good luck!
posted by reburn at 1:06 PM on June 23, 2010


Open your curtains and blinds.
Daylight can:
wake you up/ make you more energized

make your mess more obvious/ make dust more visible
(I think a mess in daylight looks different than one under flourescent - try it)

gives you a little dose of embarrassment
(sure, this can be done without daylight, but I think the sun places everything in contrast, showing you your mess from a possible visitor's point of view)

Also! a bit of mind trickery: make yourself -feel- as if you're about to be inspected (I'm in the military and my room is inspected twice a month or more), have a visitor, or that you're having someone over to do maintenance, like replacing a carpet.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:34 AM on June 30, 2010


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