Cleaning is a task that most of us have to do — one that most of us would consider anything but fun. The good news is that things can change! While we can’t promise that cleaning is ever going to be your favorite pastime, we can tell you that there are small things you can do to up the fun factor — at least just a little bit. There are even experts to back up this claim.
Read on for ideas from seven pros in happiness and positive psychology. These tips are bound to improve your cleaning mindset.
1. Focus on your senses.
Chief Happiness Officer of Happiness Experts, Paul Krismer, notes the importance of tending to sensory pleasures when it comes to making pretty much any activity a little more enjoyable. Paying extra attention to what you’re seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and tasting can make cleaning more “instantly gratifying,” he says.
This is where self-care comes in — in whatever form works best for you. Crank your favorite music while you vacuum, put a warm towel over your shoulders as you fold laundry, set up a treat to snack on while you load the dishwasher, or just take a minute to enjoy the good-smelling cleaning products you chose. Small actions like this may go a long way toward making cleaning more fun. You’ve probably been doing a lot of them for years without noticing, but now you have expert proof that it works.
2. Consider the why.
Personal development coach Jessi Beyer typically saves this tip for clients who come to her looking for direction in bigger-picture issues of mindset and motivation, but it works to make cleaning more fun, too. “You need to connect to your why when cleaning and then take it a step deeper,” Beyer says.
Immediately, your answer may seem pretty obvious: I’m cleaning because my house is dirty. That might be true, but Beyer urges you to go further. Maybe you’re clearing the dining table because your kids need space to color? Maybe you’re prepping the kitchen for a family gathering! Or maybe you’re tidying up the TV room so you have a less cluttered place for decompressing after a tough day.
See? Your why is more complex than you might think!
Once you identify that why, Beyer recommends that you consider what exactly you’ll get from taking the time to clean — fun, laughter, quality family time, peace of mind, the list goes on. “These deeper emotional reasons are the ones you need to hold on to,” she tells us. “Once you are emotionally connected to why you’re cleaning, those chores will seem less and less like things you hate to do.”
3. Turn the chore into a challenge.
If you thrive on challenge and competition, this suggestion from positive interventionist Lisa Sansom may be just the cleaning game-changer you need. Sansom notes that cleaning often feels like a drag because it’s so routine. You find yourself doing the same tasks, the same way, over and over again … and that’s far from fun.
Shake things up by challenging yourself to approach your chores differently. See how fast you can scrub the sink! Vacuum while standing on one leg! Sweep the floor while singing and carrying your toddler on your back! If you’re really competitive, you might even try challenging a friend or neighbor to a cleaning race. Adding these small twists will transform the way you think about cleaning and (hopefully) inspire you to approach formerly dreaded tasks differently.
4. Make it a family game.
The more, the merrier! That’s what they say, right? Because it’s true! You can make it work for you by inviting your loved ones to get involved with your tasks, which has the added benefit of taking some of the cleaning responsibility off of your shoulders.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Anne Hseuh suggests combining this cooperative approach with a cleaning challenge by encouraging family members to race each other to finish tidying different rooms. You could also make things a little more cooperative by assigning individual chores to each person, but insisting that everyone participate until all of the tasks are done. You might be surprised by the kind of teamwork this inspires.
(Don’t forget to crank the good music while you do this.)
5. Take it in 10s.
“Sometimes, when you have an overwhelming amount to clean, it is helpful to break up the activity into small pieces,” happiness author and expert Lauren Cook says. “Set a goal to clean up 10 items. You’ll be amazed how just 10 items picked up can make a big difference in your space.”
Per Cook’s advice, try putting away or cleaning 10 little things. This will make your list feel less stressful — and therefore more fun. You might even find yourself feeling so motivated that you want to tackle another 10 items and then another 10 after that. Before you know it, a lot of the work is done and it really wasn’t so awful.
6. Plan a post-cleaning activity.
Think of this one as a very productive form of bribery. (If an author and happiness guru like Janie J recommends it, then bribery is totally cool.)
Plan a very specific, very fun activity or reward for yourself that you will only follow through on when you’re finished with your chores. Make it something that you’ve been wanting to do for a while but just haven’t made time for … then actually do it. Cleaning will feel a lot more fun if you know something great is waiting for you when you’re done.
7. Slow down.
Your natural instinct might be to clean quickly and just get through it, but there’s a plot twist: That mindset might actually make your tasks less fun than they really are. Pause and slow it down!
“Cleaning can actually be pleasant, yet our busy lives say [that we should] rush through every task to get on to the next,” Denver psychotherapist Brittany Bouffard says. Take your time! Unless, that is, you’re in the middle of one of those cleaning challenges we suggested earlier.
How do you make cleaning more fun? Leave your tips in the comments below!
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