How I Deal with My Most-Dreaded Cleaning Task


I hate cleaning toilets.

Pretty much any other task I can handle with equanimity, but toilets? I don’t love them.

The problem with this is that I tend to procrastinate on getting them clean. I’ll put the chore off saying, “Today I will do it,” but when the opportunity arrives, I change that to “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Monday used to be bathroom cleaning day, but the bathrooms didn’t get cleaned all the way. In fact, I was finding that not only was I not cleaning the toilets, but that deterrent was keeping me from cleaning the bathrooms at all.

Not good. The bathroom has to get clean.

I’ve tried the trick of breaking up the different aspects of a room so that, say, I’d have to clean the toilets alone on Monday, the shower on Tuesday, and the tub on Wednesday. That seems like it ought to have worked, but it didn’t. Smaller tasks make the job easier, right? Wrong–at least for me.

So I sat down and did some heavy-duty thinking, and this is what I came up with: instead of cleaning the toilets one day a week, I would wipe them down every day.

Strange, isn’t it? How would doing something you dislike more often make it easier to do? And yet it does.

My reasoning is this: I don’t like the time it takes to clean a dirty toilet. It may take only extra seconds, but in my mind it’s a bigger job. Therefore, I will remove the mental obstacle by scaling down the bigger job. I’ll make cleaning the toilet a breeze. If the toilet doesn’t have time to get dirty, it won’t take long to clean. So, cleaning it every day will make the task lighter, quicker, and less unattractive.

And you know what? It works. I notice the difference. When I clean the toilet every day, I can face the job fairly easily. If, however, several days pass before I can clean it–such as now, after I was out of town for a while–it seems daunting and I am dreading getting it done.

So I guess the secret is to analyze why you don’t like doing a chore and then to find a way to address that reason. This applies across the board. I don’t like to dust when the surfaces are cluttered because it’s more work, so I cleared the surfaces. I don’t like to vacuum the living room floor because my four-year-old always makes it such a mess of toys, so I vacuum it in the evening. I don’t like ironing because hauling out the ironing board and iron seems like an unwieldy job which adds a dangerous element around my son, so I use a wrinkle-release spray and the dryer.

It’s all in that “why.”

Now what about you? What chores don’t you like to do? How do you cope with them? If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them!

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