One of the common factors of a messy home is procrastination.
For me, I just flat out didn’t “feel” like dealing with things – whether that was getting off the couch to throw away a candy wrapper, cleaning the toilet, or washing the dishes.
I never “felt” like doing it.
Which is funny to think about, because do you think there would ever be a time when I simply FELT like cleaning the house?
And we blame procrastination.
Some of use feeling – I don’t FEEL like doing it right now.
Some of us use energy – I don’t have the ENERGY to deal with it.
Some of us use perfection – I don’t have the time/energy/ability to do it RIGHT so I’m not going to even start.
Why do we procrastinate?
I heard once that the reason we procrastinate is that our brains are trying to save us from something.
Most of the time when we feel dread about a task and we tend to talk ourselves out of doing an activity is because somewhere in our mind we think that doing that will be uncomfortable.
We can see it easier when we look at an extreme example:
I had a friend who was required to do a lot of chores, every night she would trudge into the kitchen, wash all the dishes, wipe down the counters and stove and table and get everything put away.
And then her dad would come and inspect. There was always something not done right – sometimes it was simply her body language because it was clear she didn’t enjoy it. And then the lecture would start.
Now that she is older and has her own home, she doesn’t have to listen to her dad and all his criticisms of her work and attitude.
Even though she can acknowledge that she doesn’t have to face that uncomfortable situation every night, her mind is still trying to save her from feeling that.
So the excuses roll in –
It’s late, I don’t have enough time to do it correctly, so I’ll let it sit for now.
That is going to take me a good 3 hours to clean up, and I have more important things to do.
I’ve had a long day, I don’t have the energy to do it.
Not all of us have had to deal with a critical parent, but it doesn’t even have to be an extreme situation. It might be that your mom rewashed all your dishes when you left the room, or that your boss asked someone else to take the closing shift because you weren’t as efficient. It might be that one time your aunt made a “joke” about the sticky spot that you missed when you wiped the counters, or that chores were given as a form of punishment.
It doesn’t take much for our mind to associate certain tasks with discomfort and then convince us that we would feel more comfortable if we simply avoid those tasks.
As you are looking at yourself, and most likely the things I have just been talking about, brought up memories or glimpses on why you dislike certain tasks.
So you can ask yourself:
Is it true?
- If I wash the dishes now, are there any negative side effects?
- If I do the laundry, is someone going to criticize it?
- If I sweep the floor, does it actually matter if I miss a spot?
It might have been true when we lived at home, or worked with that toxic boss, or were with that abusive spouse. But is it true now?
If we are no longer in that situation, we can retrain our brain to see those good things happen when we do household tasks.
We can do the dishes, tidy the kitchen and take note of how we feel. I truly enjoy a clean kitchen. When I walk in and see a clear counter and empty sink, I am proud of myself and of my home. When things are put away I feel confident and I am happy to be here in my home.
We can do the laundry and take note: that really only took me 5 minutes and I feel so much better to have it done. I love being able to open my drawers and see clean socks and underwear. I LOVE the fact that I don’t have to rifle through a pile of laundry on the couch to get dressed. There is no more laundry couch in my house!
Changing our mindset starts small, if you’ve been struggling with procrastination give yourself easy wins.
Require only little things.
You don’t have to wash ALL the dishes, in fact, if you really struggle with getting them done, just require that you wash ONE dish after each meal.
That’s one dish that will need to be washed later. You’re getting ahead!
For myself, I wanted habits that I didn’t think about anymore.
Because I had this idea in my mind that I would have to set aside time every day to do chores, I really thought that it would take HOURS of cleaning every day.
But I could do the dishes and I could keep a tidy counter. So I set out to build that habit. And I like charts, I love marking boxes and feeling accomplished – so I created a chart to mark off my resets:
In the morning, I would do a quick pick up, wash the dishes and wipe off the counters and stove.
Same thing in the evening – before sitting down to relax.
Having a chart to focus on meant that was I thinking about keeping a consistent line of checked boxes, rather than the actual task.
I’ve talked in another video about shifting the way we think about things – I’ll put that video up at the end of this one, but basically, we can reprogram the way we think about things.
So if we have a habit of grumping to ourselves: “I hate doing dishes, this is stupid.”
We can take note and say “I LOVE having the dishes done.”
Because we do!! We do love having the dishes done.
And if we focus on the good, the result, then we will feel better about the task. Having a clean house is a nice reward.
If you would like to use a chart set like I did to become consistent with your daily resets, I created the Home Reset Checklists. These PDFs are completely editable so you can customize them to fit your home and your situation. Click here to learn more.