Big Cleaning Jobs: How to Make Them More Doable
A common New Year’s resolution is to get the house clean and organized. Even if it’s not New Year’s, it’s a goal many of us make. But somehow, it doesn’t always get done, or get done all the way…sometimes the big jobs sit undone year after year.
Why? It may be because the big jobs seem too overwhelming to tackle, and you think it’s not worth even trying if you don’t have a whole week to dedicate to that one job.
With that mentality, you’re right – it will never get done! So let’s change the way you look at big cleaning jobs. To make big cleaning jobs more doable, break them into doable bits. Yes, it’s worth it – don’t be tempted to think that there’s no use doing anything if you can’t do it all at once. Here are some tips on how to break up those big jobs into small tasks.
Motivate the Family
Whether it’s cleaning out the garage, attic, or basement, or cleaning out all the clutter from the bedrooms, big jobs are best done as a group effort. It’s almost never a case of one person’s stuff – nearly everyone in the family has mess somewhere, so delegating and asking each person to take care of his or her own mess is a start toward making it more doable.
Motivational tips include:
* Point out how much neat stuff you’ll find when you clean out – “I was wondering where I put that” or “I wondered what happened to that” are common exclamations when cleaning!
* Note the unsanitary and even unsafe conditions that can come with accumulated clutter – vermin can infest it, mold can cover it, and clutter (especially paper) can be a fire hazard.
* Offer incentives like going out for dessert after dinner or having a fun take-out food and game/movie night.
For big jobs like cleaning out the basement or garage, it helps to elicit help from others. Make specific to-do lists and hand them out to your workers, breaking the big job down into smaller ones that can be done by individuals. And make sure you repay them: give out “coupons” for cleaning help at their house that you can come and do, and/or have everyone stay for dinner. Have a big cake or other special dessert to celebrate and thank them.
List the Tasks Required
Even if you are not hosting a cleaning party, you can make a list of tasks as if you were. Pretend you are managing the big cleaning job and you have to assign tasks to employees (this can help if you are eliciting help from family members, too). Here is a sample list of tasks that might go into a big cleaning job, such as cleaning out the basement:
* Go through boxes – two boxes per person at a time – and throw out or donate what is not needed.
* Consolidate “keeper” items into boxes and plastic bins.
* Stack bins against the wall and label their contents.
* Sweep and/or vacuum basement floor.
* Call junk hauling service to take care of big items that need to be scrapped.
* Store items to donate in another room, and schedule a trip or trips to the second-hand store.
Give Yourself Time
If you are doing things in steps, it’s going to take a bit. Give yourself time; anything you do is working toward getting the big job done. And remember, it’s been sitting undone for so long that another few months or weeks won’t hurt!