Welcome back to day 5 of “The Clutter Free Kitchen” mini course.

Today we are going to talk about what to do when you really don’t feel like doing anything, but you know you should.

One of the biggest stressors on family life is the never ending list of things that need to be done.

How often do we feel the pull of the work that needs doing but for some reason simply cannot find the motivation to complete it?

It’s not that we don’t have the time to do it. Usually, it’s that we don’t feel like spending that time. We procrastinate until we don’t have a choice anymore.

The problem with this mindset however is that we still devote attention to the task regardless. We waste valuable mental energy worrying about it, wondering how we will ever get it finished and finding more and more imaginative ways to avoid getting started.

This was once my reality. As a school teacher, every weekend there were lessons to plan, work to mark and resources to make. Knowing that I had plenty of time to complete the work I would try to forget about it all weekend.

In reality it was never that easy. It was always there in the back of my mind spoiling everything I was doing, whether it was walking along the beach with my children and the dog, indulging in a spot of retail therapy or watching a movie with my husband.

Unfortunately it wasn’t until I stepped out of the classroom that it occurred to me that I was going about it all wrong. If only I had known then what I know now, I could have saved myself so much angst.

I’m going to share with you the top 3 mind tricks I use to avoid procrastination and convince myself to get started on something I would rather avoid:

Mind trick #1) I pretend that it is urgent

Think about how easy is it to start working on something when it must be finished by tomorrow. There is no greater motivation than a deadline, particularly when you have other people relying on you.

What can you do however when a deadline does not actually exist? You can set one for yourself. Create your own sense of urgency to get the job completed.

For example, you can tell yourself ‘I need to get this pantry cleared tonight because it is the only opportunity I have between now and the party on the weekend’, or ‘This needs to be done this morning because we are going out to zoo this afternoon and I will not have the time afterwards’. Find something that works for you or even make something up.

I used to joke with my husband that we should have people over more often because then the house and yard would get consistent attention. I have changed that thinking to “I’ll get the house tidied up just in case we have unexpected guests”. The end result is still the same.

If you need even more motivation, actually make a plan to have guests over on a certain day and you will have created a kitchen decluttering deadline for yourself. Many of my students tell me that they can’t have people in their house because it’s too messy and they feel embarrassed about it. Make that deadline and there is your motivation to get your kitchen tidied up before guests arrive.

Mind trick #2) I give myself permission to stop by following the 15 minute rule

Sometimes it can be difficult to begin a task because we are put off by the complexity of the work or the time required to complete it. However, it really is easy to find 15 minutes in the day, particularly if the task is important to you. Think about it like this: If you make an agreement with yourself that you will work on the task for 15 minutes and once that time is up you are allowed to stop, you will find it so much easier to start.

A lovely side effect is that often, once you have actually started, you realise that the task is not as difficult as you thought, you get on a roll and do not actually stop until the whole thing is completed.

Mind trick #3) I imagine the task completed

This can be difficult to do but if you are able to project into the future and imagine how you will feel once the task is finished, you can talk yourself into getting started earlier rather than later.

Imagine what it will feel like to spend time with your family knowing that your work is done and there is nothing to pull your thoughts away from them. Imagine the sense of relief knowing that your kitchen is tidy and company ready at any moment. Imagine the family’s delight when you whip up a batch of muffins because the kitchen is a warm and welcoming place to work in.

Some people might think it’s ‘silly’ to be worried about our mindset when it’s the physical kitchen that so obviously needs the work. What they don’t understand is how powerful the mind is and the part it plays in either assisting us or hindering us from achieving our dreams. The concept of a self fulfilling prophecy is so true here. Most often we get the result we expect. If we expect to fail, we will create that reality by not putting in the effort required to succeed whereas if we expect success, we will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Day 5 action task: 

Let’s get stuck in to today’s clutter zone: The sink full of dirty dishes.

Don’t think it’s possible to have a sink that is always free of dirty dishes? It does take a bit of effort but it is possible to achieve.

Those of you with a dishwasher are very lucky here. Did you know that 90% of the time a dishwasher is simply a cupboard to store the dirty dishes in until you get around to washing them? Yep, think about it. This means that once the cycle is finished, the quicker you can empty the dishwasher and get started on restocking it with the latest dirty dishes the better. Get those dishes off the bench and the sink and out of sight as quickly as possible.

But what if you don’t have a dishwasher? Good question. That means you are destined to always have a sink full of dirty dishes or be chained to the sink washing up every time someone uses a bowl or cup. Right? Wrong!

Why should you have to leave your dishes all over the place? Why not hide your dishes away just like everyone else? Weird idea? Maybe, but go with me on this one for a bit.

So long as you can contain any drips from the dirty dishes, what difference does it make if you haven’t got that big, expensive metal box to store them in? All you really need is a deep bowl that fits inside the cupboard under or near your sink, where you can store the dishes until you have time to wash them. You may need to go and buy something that will work, but I urge you to seriously consider it.

It’s no different to having them sitting in the sink except that now they are not on display for everyone to see.

Bonus Tip: Even if you do have the ability to hide your dishes away, often the best method is to simply clean them as you go along. When you are cooking dinner or making treats, run a nice sink full of hot water right at the beginning of the process. Then, once a utensil has been used, give it a quick wash and leave it to drain. By the time you have finished cooking, the dishes will mostly be done and there will be nothing much to do except put them away.

Your homework: Dishwasher owners:

  1. Empty that dishwasher and put the next load of dirty dishes straight into it.
  2. Give the sink a good wash and wipe dry.
  3. If full, run a wash cycle.

Your homework: No Dishwasher:

  1. Find or buy a bowl that fits in a cupboard under or near the sink.
  2. Empty the sink by putting all of the items into the bowl.
  3. Give the sink a good wash and wipe dry.
  4. Wash those dishes once a day.

Daily Habit:

1) Empty the dishwasher as soon as possible and restack it with the dirty dishes. Make sure that as soon as a dish is dirty, it gets hidden away in the dishwasher or under the sink. Don’t forget to complete your 5 second scan test before you go to bed and put away any naughty object that has migrated from its correct location.

Now it’s time to do our 5 second scan test again and see just how far we have come. Go ahead and snap another couple of photographs. Compare today’s pic with the one you took at the beginning of the course. Look at how much you have achieved in just 15 minutes per day and give yourself a well deserved pat on the back. I’m so proud of you.

Remember to continue to complete your daily habits.

Daily Habit:

1) Empty the dishwasher as soon as possible and re-stack it with the dirty dishes.

2) Make each task as fun as possible.

3) Put items back where they belong straight away.

4) Complete the 5 second scan each night before you go to bed. 

Happy Lifewrangling!

Jen Robinson

I just decluttered my kitchen sink with @Lifewrangling’s (FREE) mini-course The Clutter Free Kitchen. Join me! #theclutterfreekitchen