Having a clean home has many benefits, though most aren’t well understood until you’ve lived in a place that isn’t well kept. Usually, this is the place where you live when you’re first out on your own without anyone telling you to clean up after yourself. Some of those benefits include:
Depending on the condition of your home, starting to clean up can be either a very daunting prospect or a very simple matter. In either case, breaking the chore into small, simple tasks that are easy to accomplish will help you progress towards your goal.
On the topic of goals, it should be made clear that your goal should not be to keep a spotless home. The simple act of living in a home is going to necessarily create a degree of messiness that is acceptable. Set your goal for cleanliness on good, not perfect. A home that’s kept too clean can feel sterile and unwelcoming. Similarly, a home that is not kept clean feels careless, haphazard and just plain filthy.
Divide and Conquer
Whether you live in a dorm room, an apartment, or family home, the process of dividing the work is still the same. Look around your home and identify the areas and the tasks in each area that will help the room become clean. Most homes have a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Even if you share a dorm room, you still have areas in your room that serve these purposes. Your kitchen and bathroom may be in a community area, but in your room, you still have a place where you keep your food and your hygiene items.
Once you’ve identified each area, it’s time to identify the things that need to happen in that area for you to be satisfied with calling it ‘clean’. For example, in a bedroom you might call it clean when there are no clothes on the ground, the bed is made, and the floor is vacuumed. In the livingroom, you may need to pick up the kid’s toys and arrange the couch cushions.
However you go about identifying the areas and tasks within each area, doing this will enable you to start tackling the work and to be able to see your progress. It also makes it possible to schedule the work.
Make it Routine
If you only clean up when you feel like the mess is too much, the task will become huge and daunting and your tolerance will slowly grow and the mess will grow with it. Also, when you start living with another person, their tolerance for mess will probably be different than yours and if you only clean up when one of you feels the need, then whoever has a lower mess tolerance will become the “whip-cracking neat freak” and the one with a higher mess tolerance becomes the “lazy slob”. Either way, feelings of resentment will arise.
Having divided the home into areas and tasks, you can schedule the work. Depending on the size and level of mess in your home, you might be able to pack all the work into one afternoon every week, or you may need to pick of one task in one area per day. Creating a routine for cleaning will not only help you stick with it, it will reduce stress among the people you live with as the expectations are clearly understood.
Common Areas and Tasks
Keep in mind that some tasks depend on others being done first. For example, you shouldn’t vacuum the living room if you haven’t picked up the kids GI Joes first. I have yet to hear of a vacuum that can defeat a plastic action figure.