Give Yourself a Time Limit

Today I have a simple but effective cleaning tip for you…it has worked wonders in my little world:  give yourself a time limit.  

When my girls were little and it was time to clean up their playthings, I would often set a timer.  This helped accomplish several things:  they knew that cleaning time would end, so they were motivated to start.  And they knew that whatever wasn’t put away when the timer went off was mine, so they were motivated to work quickly.  Now that my girls are older, I will sometimes announce a “Ten Minute Tidy” and we will all scramble to see how tidy we can get the house in 10 minutes.  Again, the girls like it because they know there is a time limit, and we are all amazed at how much we can accomplish in such a short time. 

Watch Clocks by Andrew Neyer at Design Milk

I also give myself time limits when I am cleaning the house on my own.  This helps me set priorities and keeps my focused on the task at hand.  If I don’t, then this is what happens…

I am working on cleaning dishes and I notice the counter needs to be straightened as well; I pick up a dirty dishrag from the counter and take it into the laundry room; I notice that the dryer has stopped so I start to switch the laundry;  I notice the top of the washer is dirty so I wipe it off with a cleaning wipe; I throw the cleaning wipe into the garbage can that happens to be in the same cupboard as the broom; I pull the broom out and sweep the floor in the laundry room, then move to the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the entryway, and the office; while I’m sweeping I notice that the rugs needs to be vacuumed; I pull out the vacuum and clean the rugs; while I’m vacuuming rugs, I decide to vacuum the carpet and the couches and the stairs; when I finish vacuuming at the top of the stairs, I notice that I haven’t made my bed; I leave the vacuum and make my bed; while making my bed, I notice some shoes and socks on the floor so I put them away; as I pass through the bathroom to the closet, I notice the sinks need to be cleaned; I go down the stairs to clean the sinks and trip over the vacuum; I take the vacuum downstairs with me and put it away; I go to get the sink cleaner under the kitchen sink, and notice that I didn’t finish the dishes; I do the dishes.  Crazy!  Can you tell why I need a cleaning schedule?

So, in order to actually finish something, I give myself a time limit and I set a timer.  Somehow that ticking clock helps me to work more selectively, effectively, and quickly.  Sometimes I get frustrated because there is never enough time to get everything done, but I try to remember there is always time to get something done…even if I only have a few minutes.

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