As real as obstacles are, the truth is the work around your home needs to be started and finished. Here are five helpful steps to help you get work done.
Over the past six years of blogging about homemaking, I lost track of the number of times readers have pinpointed the same obstacle that’s standing in the way of creating a haven: They don’t have enough time, energy, or motivation to focus on a major cleaning or decluttering project.
In fact, many homemakers find it exceptionally difficult to get work done.
“I’m always tired. I have no motivation.”
“My clutter is overwhelming.”
“So very overwhelmed by my house right now. Tonight I picked up one bag, emptied the contents and put them in their home, put bag in its home. Such a baby step, but that is where I am in life right now. When stress of the uncontrollable stacks up with relationships, work, etc., for me it magnifies what I should be able to control, like my home.
The tiredness and lack of energy and lack of motivation are all so very real.
When you work or stay busy with your family and have absolutely no free time to pick up your home, let alone clean it and keep it clean, it’s a very real issue that can add a weight of stress to your life.
If you’re sick or physically limited or feel like your energy is drained, the last thing you feel like doing is mustering up enough energy to start working on a majorly huge house project, whether it’s repainting a room, reorganizing your paper filing system, or decluttering and purging a box of belongings you haven’t touched in more than ten years.
Obstacles are no joke. They’re not exaggerated excuses, either.
Yet as real as obstacles are, the truth is the work needs to get done. And the longer the projects literally and figuratively pile up, they only add to your mental stress, rob your peace, and become more undesirable and dreaded.
Living with Unfinished Projects
Since becoming a mom thirteen years ago, I’ve learned how to live with unfinished projects. Pre-parenthood, I enjoyed coming home from a day of work and getting something accomplished in my home. Everything was organized. My house was clean. My homemaking stresses only involved DIY home improvement projects my husband and I dreamed of someday attempting.
But once I became a mom, a whole bunch of distractions entered my world:
- My growing children quickly made a mess of my clean house and added so much more stuff.
- My time and attention were spent on actual people, and when I rarely had a quiet moment alone, the last thing I felt like doing was housework.
- Projects I knew I “should” do began to pile up.
At this rate, I could wait until my children grow up and leave home to take care of my unfinished business. But I’m not willing to live with the added mental stress of projects. Because tomorrow is never guaranteed, I finally realized I needed to get working.
Getting to Work
Over the pandemic, plenty of people used spare time to do constructive things like getting in shape or trying new hobbies. My constructive goal was to finally, finally get my home in order.
When it comes to cleaning, it feels like I’m perpetually in the middle of some sort of a cleaning project or goal. As my best friend likes to tease me, “Hilary, it seems like you’re always cleaning your house!”
But the fact of the matter is after a move, construction projects, and an exceptionally busy season of life, I never truly unpacked and moved into our new house. What I thought would take a few weeks or months turned into two years. I knew this year needed to be the prime time to finally get our home under control.
In case you’re wondering how or when you’ll ever get around to your looming house projects, here are the five steps that truly worked for me.
5 Steps to Getting Work Done Around Your House
Step 1: Stop Making Excuses
I finally needed to come to a point where I knew enough was enough. Once I gave in to the fact that, most likely, I would never feel like I had enough time or energy to face my projects, I knew I had to do the work anyway. It didn’t matter if I felt like it, because I never, ever would feel like it. But the projects needed to be both started and completed.
Step 2: Give Yourself a Reason
Personally, I was tired of inviting people over to my family’s home, only to know I would be embarrassed by an epic mess in our garage. Once my family planned on hosting family and friends again after the pandemic, I wanted every space inside and outside my home to be something I wasn’t ashamed of.
I’m not talking about fancy furnishings or gourmet food and drink. I simply wanted any guest to open any door to a room or cupboard or fridge and not be taken aback by a mess. If one of my children’s friends needed a bandage, I needed to know stuff wouldn’t fall out of our medicine cabinet and hit our guest in the face. Or if kids were playing hide and seek, a tower of boxes wouldn’t collapse and hurt someone.
By making a simple goal — to live in and maintain a home that didn’t make me feel embarrassed — I was able to keep something practical yet motivating in mind when I needed to get to work. In fact, it’s vital to keep a big picture perspective in mind.
Step 3: Make Time
One of my biggest excuses for not getting around to my house projects always was a lack of time. When my schedule was filled with work and parenting and church and life, I never got a chance to dig in to what needed to be done.
Because I knew I wanted to finally break free from the burden of stuff, I knew I had to stop wishing the work would get done and actually do it.
Realistically, I needed to know when I could actually get to work. So I started clearing my schedule just to focus on work. Saturday mornings or afternoons became prime project times. I turned down dinner invitations on certain nights because I knew my family needed hours to work. I quit social media to avoid the time sucking distraction. Instead of escaping for spring break, my husband and I devoted the entire week to cleaning out our garage. When we could have been relaxing, we made the hard decision to work instead.
Step 4: Be Prepared for the Cost
Absolutely anything you do comes at some sort of a cost. Every single time you choose one thing, you’re choosing to not do something else.
For example, if you choose to buy something, you’re choosing to not buy something else (or not save money). If you choose to skip exercise, you’re choosing an inactive lifestyle (pardon me … I’m preaching to myself right now!). If you choose to focus on social media, you’re choosing to not focus somewhere else … whether it’s focusing on your family, chores, or other activities that could fill your free time.
When you choose to finally tackle big projects around your home, there’s a cost. You definitely can factor in the cost of your time. When you’re focused on working around your home, you won’t be able to spend that same time relaxing or having fun or even working on other things.
You also probably need to factor in some financial cost. Whether it’s folders or plastic totes or baskets, you may need to buy some tools to help with organization.
Or, in the case of my family’s garage, we realized the previous owners left so many belongings behind that we needed to rent a pickup truck and pay to take loads to a garbage dump. While we weren’t thrilled we had to pay our hard-earned money to get rid of stuff that never belonged to us, it was a huge relief to get it out of our garage and free ourselves from clutter.
Step 5: Keep At It
Even with a goal and time set aside for cleaning, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking the work will get finished faster than it might.
As absolutely discouraging as it is to clean and clean or work and work and barely see a dent, a huge trick is to keep going. Some messes are epic; the time spent working on them might be considerable. This isn’t a reason to quit doing the work, though. It’s just a realistic fact.
Once you consider the reality that your projects take a long time, prioritize what needs to be completed first, move past any frustration and keep working.
When you’ve been working on your home or cleaning project steadily, you’ll notice progress. At first, it might seem pretty small. But the progress will build and build. During the times you just don’t feel like getting to work, step back and look at what you’ve accomplished so far, review your goal, and keep working.
Sometimes you’ll feel so resistant to keep working, but you’ll need to get past your own excuses and just keep going.
Fortunately or unfortunately, a lot of the reality of getting big projects done in your home has everything to do with endurance and perseverance. It may not be easy, it probably won’t be much fun, but it will be completely worth it in the end.
Keep in mind that if starting and finishing big projects around your home was really easy, everything would be done by now! Understandably it’s a big job, though, that requires you to muster up your energy, motivation, time, and even some courage.
Once you stop making excuses, give yourself a reason, make time, prepare yourself for the cost, and keep at it, you’ll be on your way to feeling the peace and relief that comes when you get work done in your home!