12 Ways I Get Motivated to Do Housework

I’m a wierd-o because normally I love housekeeping.

Except when I’m in my first trimester of pregnancy.  Then I never care.  I don’t shower for like four days at a time and my plants all die.  I just hit my second trimester.   After a couple of months of basically sleeping on my couch, I looked up and my house was in line for the next episode of Hoarders.  Or maybe just it was really dusty and had a lot of gross stuff in the microwave.  Yeah, probably that.

Either way, when I started feeling normal again I was overwhelmed.  Flylady pretty much saved me with her “You can do anything for fifteen minutes mantra.” (Go here to see how I tackle a really messy house!)

Want to know how I motivate myself to start on housework?

Motivation Collage

  1. Shower/wash my face/ change into some “real clothes,”even if it’s yoga pants.  Well, let’s not pretend, it usually
  2. Set my timer! I have developed a habit of setting my timer when I’m doing my Monday once-over or my daily tidying routines.  I love to see if I can beat my previous records.   When my timer goes off and I look around, it just proves that housework does not need to be an all-day ordeal.  Or an all-day procrastination-fest.Timer
  3. Start with the easiest task to get some momentum: Mine is usually folding the blanket on the couch, straightening the pillows and picking up the toys in the living room.  Instantly gratifying.
  4. Turn on my favorite music! Loud is good.
  5. Take it one tiny zone at a time: “If I can clear off the dining room table, then I’ll clean off that counter top.”  And so on.  And so forth.  (I am a compartmentalizer, so I use this one the most.)
  6. Talk on the phone. I put my earpiece in and call my sister to catch up.  Talking on the phone makes chores go so much faster…and suddenly the bathroom has also been cleaned!  (Let’s face it, I’m never on the phone with my sister for just 15 minutes)
  7. Promise myself a reward. It’s usually a mocha. Last time it was a cookie.  By the time I’ve finished my routine, I usually feel so good I don’t even take myself up on it.
  8. Okay, forget that. On bad days it’s a pre-reward.  A reward for my good intentions, shall we say.  Anyways, in my experience, a little sugary caffeine never hurt a fast, 15-minute housekeeping spree.
  9. Simmer some spices on the stove. I don’t know what it is, but the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and oranges wafting through the house just motivates me to get everything feeling cozy and tidy.
  10. Listen to a motivating (or just entertaining) audio book, podcast, or TV show while I work. My favorites in include Dr. Laura, Dave Ramsey, Joyce Meyer, and Seth Godin.Ipod
  11. Start super small: Example:  What can I do in two minutes?  This always surprises me.
  12. Use TV commercials. If I’m having a truly terrible and unmotivated, overwhelming day, I do what I call commercial method.  You cannot use your DVR for this, as commercials are a necessity. I allow myself to lay around and watch T.V. all day, but during commercials, I force myself to get up and to do a little 5-minute something.BONUS: The Basket MethodSince writing this post, I found another way to get myself motivated!  Have you ever heard of the basket method?  Here’s how to get yourself motivated using my basket method.  This works great for a super messy house! Remote

I usually only show you pretty pictures of my house.  But how about this?

Dishes

Kitchen

Messy House

Messy Table

Toys 2

Messy Nursery

That’s my house right now.  Oh, there’s more.  I’m just too vain to show you.

SO, I need to know:

1.) How do you get yourself motivated to tackle your housework?

2.) What is that one chore or hot-spot that will cause your house to deteriorate into madness if you put it off?

3.) Am I the only one who gets that special feeling when I see fresh lines vacuumed into the carpet?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+
  • http://www.lymemeariver.blogspot.com Jen Antoniou

    Oh poop. I just experienced the exact reason I comment on FB and not on the actual blog. It totally bumped me and my forming comment… so I am temporarily retiring the iPhone, and have hunted down my laptop. Which I located on Audrey’s bed. With Club Penguin on it. And thankfully, this time it was plugged in to charge. Which means she snuck into my room twice, early this morning, to thieve. haha

    Okay, so here goes. And this is just proof of how much I love you. I rarely log into the laptop during the day… the time thief! It sucks it away from me….. :)

    Because I have been overcoming a serious illness, that has caused me difficulty in so many areas, I have had to be very cautious about how I spend my time. There have been times I grabbed the vacuum (I LOVE VACUUM LINES! I get that feeling in my stomach when someone says pudding, babies, puppies, or I bought you a gift certificate for a massage!) and proceeded to vacuum ONE SQUARE FOOT. And it was too much. I feel sick to my belly. So off to bed I went, disappointed and disillusioned. After a cry and a nap, I slowly came to myself and got my head on straight. I realized that baby steps are baby steps, and every little victory should be celebrated. So I celebrated that square. One little section of lines. And I think I celebrated with Ben and Jerry’s maybe. ;P

    I might be kidding about the ice cream, but it is hard to say. My recall was still way off. It has improved. Enough where I can answer these questions above. Haha. So here goes:

    To get myself motivated, I do a few things. One, I think of my super hard working hubby. The one who often has had to cook, do laundry, housekeeping, side work, and help with the kids… once he is done with his full time job. This is an easy motivation, but I have to be careful. In my desire to bless him, I can put too much on myself. So I try to be careful.

    Sometimes the only way I can motivate myself, is to just take one little task, and do it. Then another, and another… sometimes a contest with the kids to get them to do their part (since mine are all preK age and above) can make it easier to get it going. Once I see a space that is done, or well started, I can get excited and enough of a boost for something else.

    I light yummy smelling candles, and have been known to do the spices in a pot warming trick. If I am feeling strong, maybe start something easy in the crockpot, so the aroma warms me to my core and helps me keep my focus.

    A huge motivation for me, is something that only comes once I put out some effort… and that is a clean floor. Not a whole lot derails me like a dirty floor. It is so unappealing to me, that I find little to no motivation to do it.

    Another tool I use, is taking some quiet time on my balcony. Looking at the sky, the trees, the birds flying around, etc, grounds me and calms my spirit and soul. It is very soothing to me. Then I feel more focused.

    Another one I cannot overlook, is eating a healthy, but not heavy meal. The bit of energy I get, if used right away, can yield favorable results.

    Dishes put off, in this tiny kitchen, causes an avalanche of neglect to fall onto the home. Along with food in my carpet (GROSS! Never happened pre-kids… and pre-hubby, haha), or clutter on the flat surfaces. Clutter on flat surfaces is a huge issue for this family. Bottom line, we need a bit more organization here, because the reason the stuff is up there is because nobody knows where to put it. I will get there, and always appreciate volunteer organization freaks… anyone? Lol

    I already responded to the question about vacuum lines, because I got so excited when I read it, that I was motivated to respond, and responding as quickly as I can so I can go make my own vacuum marks. And if you saw my floor (oh the horror, as I exited my bedroom!), you would see I cannot afford to waste the mental boost that will help carry out the little bit of energy I have. So goodbye for now, I have to do a quick floor hotspot clean up, so I can make pretty vacuum marks. Hmmmm… now I feel like I do when they say PSL are back at Starbucks. If you know that abbreviations, then maybe you know that feeling too.

    Thanks Rachael, and BTW… GORGEOUS job on the photos. And they are all hers, folks. I recognize them all, and that beautiful home. You are doing an amazing job, and I am proud to call you family. XOXOXO

    • http://www.frugalfaye.com Rachael

      Pudding…babies…puppies…massages…vacuum lines!

  • Daniel

    Dear Rachael,
    While I enjoy your blog, it’s sometimes hard for me to relate to. I often am accused of “over-cleaning” my house. When my mom visits, she says things like, “Why don’t you put down that blasted 409 for a minute!” or “The lack of cobwebs in the corners make me feel like I’m NOT visiting you in college…you ARE still in college, aren’t you son?” Usually, I can’t traintrack my house just once (and for those of you who never had the pleasure of a Connie Seibel chore-list, that’s where you run a wet dust-rag over all the baseboards). In fact, I often put on a lil Duke Ellington “Take The ‘A’ Train” and chug a few laps around the house. And then run ’em backwards just for kicks. And while I’ve never been pregnant before, I doubt very much THAT would stop me. I imagine, if I were pregnant, I’d probably run the vacuum all day so my baby can feed off the joy (that little love-parasite!).

    When things get really going, and I realize that I’m starting to scrub the designs of my linoleum again, I have to do a little decorating. And that’s easy…just put a bird on it! http://www.putabirdonit.com/

    -Daniel

    • http://www.frugalfaye.com Rachael

      Dan
      1.) I was too clever to be fooled by “train tracks.” Micah, on the other hand…well, I hope my kids are as easily fooled
      2.) Mom definitely does not clean your house twice a year when she visits you
      3.) I was really considering putting a bird on this post and now that you’ve said it, I think it’s a confirmation of my intuitions, so that, or I might get someone to draw me a cat for the custom banner I’m getting.

      http://iwanttodrawacatforyou.com . (You should at least consider getting a portrait of Lord Chesterfield for Christmas cards.)

  • http://www.freckledgirldesigns.blogspot.com/ House of Freckles

    Are you using Photoshop? What editing program do you use for your pictures, they look great! Also what lens do you have on your DSLR?

    • http://www.frugalfaye.com Rachael

      Hey Katie!
      LOL no, I tried Photoshop, it was horrible! I got so mad! Now I just edit the pictures right in iPhoto with the “adjust” tool. I usually just crop and adjust the lightness and darkness with the histogram. For effects, I wanted something quick and easy so my husband got me a program for the Mac called “Analog.” I LOVE IT! It’s just a simple little program with filters…a lot like Instagram, but a little better. It was $9.00 I think. You drag the photos from iPhoto into the program.

      I mainly use the “nifty fifty” lense (50 mm). It doesn’t zoom, but it gives that depth of field I like! It didn’t come with the camera, but my friend who is a photographer said I needed it.

  • Lisa

    Love simmering spices on the stove! Cinnamon sticks and orange peels do WONDERS for your house! And I am cracking up at the Connie Seibel chore list…hilarious. The great Julie Suderman often dialed up the “Speedy Quick Company” for super fast cleaning services (aka: Kim, Lisa, and Dana answering the bedroom phone while mom was on the kitchen phone). Good times.

    • http://www.frugalfaye.com Rachael

      LOL! I love it! I wonder what games we’ll play with our kids to get them to clean! I just tried the cinnamon sticks, but I used lemon peels. I’m gong to try the orange!

  • http://www.ecochicbabyandhome.com Eco chic chrissy

    Monday used to be my cleaning day also (when i was a stay home mom)
    Now its 15 min before we leave the house and 15 min before bed routine… then on the weekend we all clean as a family. Though one day a month on my day off I try to have a “stay home day” which involves cleaning, organizing and a reward of a dvr show and ice cream!

  • Linda Alsbury

    Just so you know, even your messes look clean. Just saying.

    • http://www.frugalfaye.com Rachael

      LOL well, thanks! Everyone else’s messes are never as intimidating as my own!

    • oracle

      They look so clean that I wonder if they were ‘staged’ with clean stuff made to look messy for the blog…my messes sure don’t look that pristine….:(

  • Sarah McLain

    Oh Rachael! This post is absolutely wonderful… besides the great tips (Simmering Spices on the stove, I LOVE that! Brilliant!)… I seriously almost started crying looking at your pictures! Your honest shots were refreshing. My home, with dishes piled high and baby things scattered. well…. everywhere, and feeling like I’m a complete failure at being a wife and mother because the toilets haven’t been scrubbed in a month. actually, I’m not gonna lie… we’re going on 2 months now. hanging my head in shame :/ Thank you for being real and for giving me motivation to be better at the same time! Love ya girl!

  • http://www.frugalfaye.com Rachael

    Girl, I’m preparing myself for a hot mess of a house here pretty soon…as soon as I have this baby! It’s going to be a whole new level, LOL!

  • Nicole Abele

    #1 – I do a lot of the stuff you listed. Even the commercials thing, though I don’t have a TV, there are commercials on Hulu, so it works.
    #2 – Kitchen counter (kitchen sink overflow) and kitchen table
    #3 – You’re not alone and neither am I :)

    I just found your blog about 30 minutes ago, and I think we are kindred spirits. 😀

    • frugalfaye

      YES! Kindred spirits are my favorite :)

  • Charolina

    great post, love it! very helpfull tips!
    greetings!

  • lauren kramer

    Thank you ! And yes your mess is clean compared to my mono induced disaster of an apartment. Usually for me all hell breaks loose after my bedroom gets messy then the living room and so in and so forth. And yes yes yes sweeper tracks and fresh carpet is one of my favorite things to see , also a dish free sink and sparkly wiped down stove and counter top. Thank you for this post!

  • Judy H

    Faye, I am getting excited about housework after reading a few of your blogs! I had totally forgotten about the fly lady stuff! I have a 6 month old (who is teething, none the less) and an 8 yr old and I work a crazy schedule as a dispatcher for a sheriffs office. I am blessed to have a hubby that recently just started a daytime (regular schedule, yay!) job. I took 10 weeks maternity leave but you know what? I did not vacuum my carpets until Baby Girl was about 5 months old. Seriously! Floors weren’t a priority and nobody else was picking up the vacuum, so it just had to wait. But she’s getting closer to trying to crawl, so all of the sudden floors are going to be a priority! Just wanted to let other Mom’s know that nobody is perfect in the housekeeping area. We do what we can. Thanks for the great tips and encouragement. I do want to be able to enjoy my house with my family again. I’m going to start w/ the kitchen table…it is a mess and it’s the first thing we see when we come in.

    • Amy Hossack

      Its nice to hear someone else acknowledge that if you’re not doing it, and nobody else is doing it, its just not getting done!!! I always feel like “I’m not doing it” but the reality is that there are TWO other adults in my house!

  • http://www.candacebarnett.com Candace Barnett

    Glad I found this blog. I just got out of the shower as my first step in my day full of chores and was already feeling overwhelmed. First step – get dressed! Haha it was just motivating to see your list. I’m going to try the simmering spices thing too – sounds like a great idea! Thanks for the motivation!

  • Aimee Daniello

    THANK YOU. reading this has motivated me…. and thanks for the pics. makes me feel better about myself :)

    • frugalfaye

      You are welcome! I love a good confessional! Ha ha! Good for the soul.

  • oracle

    I used to use the ‘commercial’ method – it was practically painless and worked amazingly well – until I gave up on useless TV programming. Now I miss the commercials – got more done.

  • Linda

    I am reading your blog right now for inspiration!! When I know someone is coming over, I am all over the cleaning/straightening up thing. Otherwise, I could really care less about cleaning, although I do like my home clean! Does that make any sense??? My kitchen is the hot spot for needing the most attention. Or is my bedroom more? I put IT off until very last, and it is always pretty bad. My dogs and cats and I are the only ones who live in there, and they like it. I also love seeing the lines in the carpet after vacuuming! That is, when I actually get motivated to vacuum, boo. Oh my!!!!

    • frugalfaye

      My hot spot is the kitchen too, and my bedroom is always last to get attention!

  • janoir

    I do most of the things you do, but one thing I do is have a friend over every Friday. I don’t want her to see my “dark side” so I make sure to tidy up the living areas and vacuum. Yes I love seeing the lines in the carpet too!

  • Jaquie

    When I get a bad case of the I Don’t Wannas, I have a few go to motivators. First, I buy myself some clearance flowers for under $4. Then I stick them in whatever room needs cleaning the most. There is something about seeing beautiful flowers against a cluttered background that makes me want to clean. My next go to is to splurge on a nice or new cleaning product. My addiction to buying and trying new things lights a cleaning fire under my bum. If all else fails, I invite guests over or plan a party. There’s nothing like the prospect of public humiliation to get you cleaning like crazy.
    And of course, I totally dance like a fool to my favorite songs the whole time. My kids look at me like I’ve lost it every time, right before they join in :)
    As far as what chore not done causes utter chaos, it is without a doubt laundry, dishes, and those dreadful caltrops otherwise known as legos.

  • Barb

    I just stumbled upon this site but I love your honesty. The biggest problem I have is that none of the other 4 members of my family are on board and I have let that stand in my way of cleaning up. I struggle with depression and get overwhelmed easily but I also find frustrating that they can walk over and on top of their messes while I work full time, go to school and take care of an ailing mother. Anyone else out there?

    • Nat

      Yes. They love to tell my it’s filthy but they won’t help fix it. It’s hard to bear at times. I’m on anti-depressants. Also they EXPECT me to clean, and get all in my face when it isn’t done. Trying to keep a cleaning schedule is likely to have more work piled upon me in one day than I had planned for the week to make it less overwhelming. I am at this time semi-seriously thinking about burning the place down, but I won’t :-/

      • Kitty

        I feel the same way. I get overwhelmed then I just sit there and do nothing. I used to be more energetic and have a boost of energy, but I feel tired all the time and just want to lay down and relax.

        • jacq

          I hear you on this! I am a shadow of my former self. Used to be I saw something I needed to do and I just got up and did it….these days there’s a wall I have to break through to accomplish simple tasks. What I do get done is soon undone with no regard to helping keep things straightened out. No respect for our home. And just assuming mom will have to clean it anyway.

    • LVCATS

      Barb, I feel your frustrations! I suffer from depression and work full-time also. But uou go to school too. My husband and son don’t help to make things easier for me. All I ask is that they pick up after themselves. If the dish is dirty put it in dishwasher dont just leave it in the sink or on table. If you spill on the counter or floor wipe it up. They think I am over doing it on cleaning, well if I could stay home then I could and would be happy to maintain the home. But NO, I am cleaning and washing clothes on weekends while they have fun going places or doing hobbies! I am exhausted fighting the battle. But I can’t stand a messy and dirty home. I feel I get up in the morning only to see the mess they have left me to clean before going to work and when I get home I am cleaning too, while they watch TV. I think it’s inconsiderate of them to not assist. They think I’m OCD about it! Which I may be alittle, but I try to compromise! I just like things neat and organized. With my depression, it makes me feel better! So wouldn’t you think they would want me feeling better?! I told them wouldn’t you rather have a clean home than a messy one? We are family and we should help each other out even if its not that important to you! It’s funny because if they visit a messy home they don’t like it! I dont know what to do…..I guess I didn’t train them right and now it’s too late! I have hired a cleaning person once in awhile. My husband doesnt like it but I tell him then start helping out! Plus I’m a happier person when things are cleaned up. They must like me crabby! Men they don’t get it!! So I will pray for you and all women and men whose families refuse to help clean!! ☺

      • jodi

        This may seem a bit mean but this is how I get my messy members to clean up. I get up early for work, much earlier than they want to get up. If I wake to stuff laying around I make them get up early and put it away. They are doing a much better job of picking up before bed now.

  • Loving Evening

    Rachael, you’re a Godsend! While looking at your pictures, I almost gleefully yelled, “It’s not just me!” lol ~hugs~

  • Amanda- Avid Cleaning Avoider

    1.) I put on music on good days.
    2.) DISHES, DISHES, DISHES. LAUNDRY. LAUNDRY. LAUNDRY.
    3.) I enjoy shine. and clutter free , simple cleanliness, with a lit candle and a curled up dog on the floor. on the floor I repeat on the floor. I swear why did I get a pet? anyways, no your not the only one who loves a clean house, but hates to clean it! thanks I enjoyed this, now off to clean !

  • Crystalkr

    My husband cooks elaborate meals. They are never done till very late in the evening. Usually around 9. He also makes elaborate messes. I get so overwhelmed that I sometimes leave it till morning. Gross, I know. Even when morning comes I’m still overwhelmed. So, I start cleaning the rest of my house. Everytime I have to go into my kitchen to put away dishes or get a towel….anything….I clean for 3 minutes. I get as much done as possible in 3 min and then I leave it. By the time the rest of my house is done I don’t have much left to do in the kitchen!

  • Jessie Ray Hilton

    This is exactly what I needed. I am a new stay at home mom coming from a previous 6 year long nanny position where I had the pressure of working in someone else’s house and semi predictive work schedule that kept me on track but now, even though my newborn sleeps through the night and is now six weeks old, I cant find the motivation after caring for her all day to not spend my occasional nap breaks on the couch watching L&O. Its so distressing to have a mess in my previously clean and organized home. I joined my gym yoga class to try and meet people and find modivation through social stimulation, but the class is only once a week, so I needed an extra motivator. This list is so helpful :)

  • Amy Hossack

    Don’t you just love Flylady! :)

  • hipsmelissa

    I work evenings and so I’m home all day until about 4 then work till 11 pm – I find it SOOOOO hard to get motivated to clean and tidy the house. It sounds so lazy but I keep thinking I don’t want to get tired cleaning the house because I have to be on the ball in the evenings for work. Any advice?

  • gmail

    hi faye my name is rylee i am 12 and i cant seem to get motivated to clean my room but this helped so much it helps with doing my normal chores too i love your website whenever i have a cleaning question i always come to you thanks so much

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Yay! Thank you for commenting Rylee! Great job helping your family with chores. It’s great practice for having your own house some day!

  • gmail

    for the record you kitchen looks spotless compared to mine

    • http://www.fromfaye.com/ fromfaye

      Ha ha! Well, it’s okay. The camera doesn’t show all the grime!

  • Jelli Bean

    OMG your house looks like mine thank goodness I am NOT the only one, LOL…..I am definately following your blog….

  • Allison

    I own a cleaning business and clean about 6 accounts a week. When I get home, I resent cleaning my own space! I enjoyed the tips you gave.. And it’s true, so much can be accomplished in just 15 minutes.

  • rebecca

    I have a 7 and 2 yr old. Work 40+ hrs. And i am getting so far behind on laundry and housework. Im exhausted. And idk how ill ever catch up if i dont take a few days off work. I used to unload reload dishwasher n stuff on my lunch just to keep that up but i just cant deal anymore! My feet ache i feel like im abt to fall asleep as i type.

  • Markie

    I just adore this article and its author! Haha! I’m having so much trouble getting the motivation, and this article and the links within it, help a lot! Yes, I too love the fresh vacuum lines in the floor and would go back over the carpet to make sure all lines are perpendicular and even to each other. I love the smell of fresh pine-sol after mopping because it’s like the scent of victory after tackling a huge mess. One hotspot in my house that causes the house to deteriorate if I leave it a mess is the kitchen. It’s also the room that I hate the most to clean. I’ll clean every room and leace the kitchen for last. When I finally get to the kitchen, that’s when I call it quits. I hate it so badly. It demotivates me every single time.

  • Angela

    Sometimes I play cleanup “golf” and pick up 3 items to put away and wherever the last item goes I pick up 3 more there. Sometimes choose a Disney character and clean up like they would (Cinderella, before a reward; Lightning McQueen, super fast…). Sometimes I turn on all the lights and can only turn them off when that room is clean. :)

  • candylyn25

    Thank you for posting such honesty! I have always been a well organized neat and tidy house kinda gal but we all have those days, months lol that we get so behind and unmotivated. Love your tips so keep them coming girly!