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Here's how to stop procrastinating and make your cleaning time count.

By Kristin Granero
March 11, 2021
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For some, cleaning can prove cathartic (decluttering a physical space can do wonders when it comes to decluttering the mind). For many others, it's just another set of line items on what already feels like a never-ending to-do list, compounding as the time goes by and tasks stack up.

That pile of dishes in the sink and laundry in the bedroom? They aren't going to wash themselves. Or maybe it's a special project you've been putting off for months? Unless you're lucky enough to have help, there's often no way to get around it, but with some creativity and help from technology, there are ways to make cleaning feel less like a chore. Whether you're looking to tap in (your loved ones will thank you) or tune out (we've got just the podcast), speed up (dance party, anyone?) or slow down (there's nothing like a good audio book to soothe the soul), read on as we share some of our favorite ideas for making the most of your next cleaning session. You may even learn something new along the way.

Approach it like a pro

Give your home the star treatment by trying the techniques of well-known organizing aficionados, such as Marie Kondo or the clear container-obsessed duo behind The Home Edit. Your space and wallet will benefit from the self-guided pro tour, and you’ll become an expert at tidying up (not to mention assessing what does and does not spark joy) in the process. Here are a few more clutter-conscious TV shows to check out.

Make money

Need a little push when it comes to departing with beloved, yet oft-overlooked goods? View it as a way to bring in some extra cash by selling in-demand fashion, tech, and memorabilia pieces to a consignment or second-hand store. Online services like eBay and Poshmark allow you to set your own price and send items with ease (more ways to make money off of your belongings right this way).

Embrace your inner philanthropist

Even better, view surplus and unused items as another outlet to give back. Many shelters will accept new and gently used clothing, as well as additional items, such as unopened canned foods, appliances, and personal care products. Research organizations in your area to get a better sense of their needs, restrictions, and drop-off guidelines. 

Connect with loved ones

If a busy schedule is getting in the way of your relationships, try turning your next cleaning session into a virtual catch-up with family and friends. Particularly ideal for quieter and more straightforward tasks (such as folding laundry), you’ll pass the time and strengthen bonds in the process.

Engage in mindful meditation

In addition to connecting with others, cleaning can provide an opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Elevate the experience—and your mood—by embracing the principles of mindful meditation, either on your own or with the help of guided meditation apps. (Or try Real Simple Relax, which offers easy-to-follow, voice-activated meditations that can be accessed any time using Amazon Echo and Alexa devices.)

Listen to a podcast

Stay on top of the latest stories and audio series by pairing your next polish with a good podcast. Many news and entertainment outlets offer regular and special programs organized according to date, subject matter, and play time so you can select topics and lengths that suit your preferences and the project (we suggest reserving the true crime podcasts for morning or midday tasks).

"Read" a new book

Behind in book club? Use your next closet clean-out as an excuse to indulge in a new page-turner (sans having to actually turn a page) with the help of an audio streaming service like Audible that allows you to purchase and listen to books at your own pace. Even better, choose one with motivational or healing powers. 

Have a dance party

Create a playlist with songs from your favorite or—bonus—new artists. Working with a crew? Try taking individual requests or engaging in a few rounds of karaoke to help boost participation and morale.

Make it a game

Speaking of teamwork, there’s nothing like a little friendly competition to help stoke productivity. Challenge housemates to see who can complete the most tasks in a certain period of time, or use your project as a platform to test and evolve everyone’s knowledge with a virtual trivia game.

Reward yourself

Especially appealing for larger projects and longer periods, incentivize yourself and fellow cleaners with a reward for a job well done. The payoff could be anything from uninterrupted TV time to a favorite meal (or may we suggest one of these home gifts that keep on giving?).