My Best Tip for Housework Motivation

As a child, the year 2010 and later held such wonder and promise of better things that I was sure we'd have self-cleaning houses by now. As you well know, although we've had numerous advancements in lifestyle, technology, etc, the self-cleaning house hasn't been made widely available to us all just yet. Darn!

So, here is my best tip for working with yourself, not against yourself to find the motivation you need to keep doing the honorable task of taking care of those who live within your home (you included!) by taking care of the home.

Take a picture!

First, take a picture of an area that you are willing to clean at this time. The best areas are the ones that need your attention the most right now. For example:

* The area that a person first sees when they enter your home (i.e. outside entry, inside entry, the first room in the house);
* The room you/family are in the most (the room that our home's occupants use most should always be the most welcoming, in my opinion); or
* An area that has been in this state for quite awhile but the procrastinator in you has won out and not taken care of business.

Then, have at it. I know, I know, I haven't showed you the motivation part yet but we'll get there. Right now it's time to clean the area, so that you can learn something from the experience and that will be the part that feeds the motivation the next time.

e your done, take another picture or several!

Now pretend it's a later date and you aren't feeling that motivated, whether it's day-to-day cleaning or tackling a larger project. Time to pull out your photos and use the 'before-and-after effect' for your motivation.

No matter which you choose to look at first, look at a photo and feel yourself in that environment. Imagine you are coming in to your home, after work or after running errands. Imagine you are welcoming someone in to your home. Imagine that your family is there; what are you all doing?

The photo will bring out true feelings and there is nothing wrong at all if the after photo doesn't motivate you. However, maybe it does. Does it remind you of something nice you were told by your husband or a guest? Do you remember having the space available to play on the floor with your kids and make some warm memories? Do you remember coming into the room and feeling happy to be home, as if your home was welcoming you?

There is something about seeing your space differently; through the camera's eye instead of your own as it were. Maybe, it's because we've put ourselves in the place of someone else and seen the space through these 'new eyes' or because we've identified the quality of life that is being lived in that area and want it to, of course, be the best possible.

A special note for Perfectionists...

As a recovering perfectionist, I've learned that nothing motivated me more than turning a really dirty area into a clean one. It took me a long time to realize this about myself but, when I did, it made perfect sense. The thrill of transforming the area and making it shine was what derailed me from keeping up with housework! Instead, I tended to wait until it was 'dirty enough to clean'...which was my way of actually getting a reward for my work (the dramatic change I unknowingly craved).

Sadly, 'beautifully clean' only lasts for a short bit and it takes much more time for the house to get 'dirty enough to clean'. When I became aware that my perfectionism was forcing my family and I to have to live this way, it was a bit of a shock. With time, I learned to trick my mind into cleaning more often by using a photo as a reminder of the 'beautifully clean' look. After all, that is what I wanted most...not the hours of work it took to change it from really bad to really beautiful.

This is when I personally learned about the 'before-and-after effect' and its power to motivate. First, I took a picture of an area that I had worked so very hard to clean. I wanted to start myself off slowly, and more forgivingly, so I never took 'before' pictures. I think I had taken enough of those mentally to last me a lifetime!

Later, when I was feeling a very strong urge to procrastinate doing anything regarding cleaning (because I didn't have time, I wasn't in the mood, etc), I would try to remember to look at my 'after' photo. I admit, in the beginning it didn't do much to motivate me in the moment and, eventually, the perfectionism monster talked me out of cleaning.

The best part, though, is that I used these times to gain awareness. Every day that I thought about cleaning, I would make note on my calendar; a smiley face if I did at least 15 minutes of effort or a sad face if not. I began to realize that even if I didn't clean immediately after seeing the photo, later that day I would! It was like the best of both worlds; I got to procrastinate and 'do it later'...and later ended up being sooner rather than never. The photo represented what I wanted most and I knew it. The key was to find a way to work with who I am and not force the issue. My "inner brat" would clean when she wanted to and not when being 'forced' to, that is!

Until next time...Take Care Of You!

Photo Credit: Lady Taking Picture
Photo Credit: Pile of Pictures

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Anna said...

Oh, interesting idea about perfectionism. Thanks!

Suzanne Sergis said...

Hello Anna. Figuring out the tie-in to my perfectionist ways opened my eyes and allowed me to be more forgiving with myself. I'm glad you found it interesting as well.

Miche - Serenity Hacker said...

Hi Suzanne, I am so going to try this! What an idea! I never thought about taking a picture and seeing it through someone else's eyes like that... it's funny because often when I see pictures that were taken in my home I always think my decor looks better in the pictures than in real life... Maybe that's because I'm usually not taking photos at home unless there's company, and that means I've cleaned! So this weekend I'm going to take the photos before and after, and next time I'm not so motivated to do housework I'm going to take a look at them.

Thanks a bunch for sharing this!

Miche :)

Recent blog:=- There Is No Such Place As Stuck

Suzanne Sergis said...

Hello Miche, it's great to hear from you again.

I chuckled at how, previously, the photos made your decor look better to you...and how you caught on to the part about how they had received extra attention for company's sake!

That is the very issue that I try to emphasize. We are our home's most important guests, so it should be made extra pleasant just because WE are coming in to it. Hopefully, the extra perspective from this post and the before-and-after photos will fire up the motivation, to help you give you and your family the "special treatment" as the honored guests that they are. Have fun!

On your post, "There is No Such Thing As Stuck", I was intrigued by your thoughts on how imagination comes into the mix. Definitely some good food for thought...and probably just what I need as I am battling with my internal dialogue right now. I want to cease defining my situation as "stuck" (because that keeps making me so unhappy) and instead I am trying to label it as "in transition" because that highlights the moving forward part. Just because my imagination has already created this new wonderful picture in my mind doesn't mean I can just jump right into it and make it my reality. Part of me wants to remember that I don't make sudden, "leaps of faith" and the other part wants Ms. Comfortable to stop limiting us. ;-)

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