I like a tidy home, but with two children and a dog, it's nearly impossible to motivate myself to clean. I'll miraculously put both kids down for a nap, and instead of grabbing a broom, I plop down on the couch for "just a minute." Before I realize it, everyone's up, and I missed my opportunity. And post-bedtime, I'll tell myself that I'll "get up extra early tomorrow" to tackle the clutter. But then I don't. By this point, I'm living in an every-surface-is-sticky apartment with no light at the end of the dusty tunnel.
By accident, however, I stumbled on a trick that finally got me to stop procrastinating and just do it already: I invited a friend over.
It's just my Type-A nature to want to hide the fact that I live in chaos every other day of the week . . . so why not use that desire to my own advantage?
As soon as I extended the invitation, for dinner the following night, I realized, "Crap, my place is a mess!"
I immediately went into overdrive. Throughout the next 24 hours, whenever I'd have a break, I'd complete some household task. That evening, I put off my Netflix binge — which would normally compel me far more than sorting the stack of mail or washing the sink full of dishes — and moved from room to room, cleaning with incredible efficiency. The next morning, I woke up and vacuumed. And after work, I fluffed the throw pillows, lit a scented candle, and waited for my friend to arrive.
Sure, she likely wouldn't have judged me for a messy home, but I know myself, and it's just my Type-A nature to want to hide the fact that I live in chaos every other day of the week . . . so why not use that desire to my own advantage?
Once I realized that the act of inviting people over was the push I needed to get my house looking the way I wanted it, I began doing it more often.
Sometimes, I'd offer to host a playgroup later that day, and it provided just enough time to make the living room, well, livable.
Other times, I'd invite a few couples over for takeout dinner the next week, and in that time, I'd manage to do more of a comprehensive cleanup. Or, I'd still procrastinate and stay up extra late the night before getting everything as close to spotless as possible. Not ideal, but, nonetheless, it got done on deadline.
What's great about this trick is that it keeps me focused on the big picture instead of the nitty-gritty. Without a time constraint, I'd spend 90 minutes scrubbing the built-up grime on the stovetop before giving up with 90 percent of the work still unaccomplished and not a single room complete. But with a cutoff point, I'll spend a few minutes giving the kitchen appliances a wipe down, and I'll leave deep-cleaning for another day. Sure, this technique often involves me shoving piles of paper or errant toys into dresser drawers, but it leaves me feeling so much better by the time my doorbell rings.
And the most surprising benefit? I started spending way more time with friends, and my home became a gathering place for weekly playdates and the occasional Saturday brunch. Not only did this sneaky trick give me a clean house, but it made my house even more of a home.