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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Wenzel

6 Hacks to Fight the Pinball Effect- Stay on Task While you Clean!

Updated: Oct 29, 2022


It's time to clean, and you've carved out a couple of hours to bang out a few tasks. You have plenty of time. It will be easy. Let's start in the kitchen, you think. Okay, the dishes need washing, the garbage is overflowing, and of course, that toy dinosaur MUST go back into the toy bin BEFORE you step on it one more time. You pick up the t-rex and take it to the toy chest, where you look down and find one of the kid's toothbrushes. What?! This shouldn't be here! You run the toothbrush over quickly to the bathroom. In the bathroom, you find your husband's duck call. This doesn't belong here. Kids! You think. So, you take the duck call, venture into your bedroom, and put the duck call back into his closet. As you take a peek over by the nightstand, you notice a coffee mug and decide to grab it on the way to the kitchen, where the cycle starts all over again. Next thing you know, that two-hour time frame is up. You look at the clock and back up to a mess that never got picked up. Why can't I clean my house? Why is this so hard? You feel like a failure, and the kitchen stinks, so you order a pizza. While you wait for dinner, you scramble to complete the dishes and take out the trash. Does this sound familiar? If so, you're certainly not alone.

I call this the pinball effect, and YOU are the pinball that gets thrown all over your house. You're exhausted, and your efforts seem pointless. Here are a few steps to taking back your home!


1. Start with the kitchen. Why? Because it's the central hub of your home. Cooking healthy meals is essential, and without good food, your whole household will be cranky, tired, and broke from unnecessary dining out costs. The rest will feel like a breeze if you tackle the kitchen first. Before cleaning the kitchen, do a quick run through the house and pick up any cups or bowls that need scrubbing. This prevents you from needing to wash more dishes after you've emptied the dishwasher.


2. Set a timer. Why? Racing against the clock forms a clear boundary for your time. If you're feeling overwhelmed, select a specific time you're content with to help you feel more accomplished at the end of the time block. It also enables you to stay on task, significantly boosting productivity.


3. Use a laundry basket! This one is IMPERATIVE to stopping the pinball effect! It's simple too. Find a laundry basket, box, or tote and take it to the room you want to clean. This tote is a TEMPORARY home for all the items that don't belong in that room. If I had a basket in my kitchen, I wouldn't have gotten entirely derailed by a toy T-rex! After cleaning the room, visit the other areas in your house and put each item back where it belongs. This simple solution offers a quick win, too, because you can get the unnecessary stuff out of the way almost instantly.


4. Declutter! Make an effort to purge unneeded items from your home routinely. Cleaning will always be more accessible with less stuff in the way.


5. Aim for a baseline clean over a deep clean. It's a great feeling to have the dishes put away, trash outside, and the laundry put away. Maybe everything isn't perfect, but you have the clarity to focus on the next task.


6. Turn on the TV. I know this seems counterproductive but folding a few loads of laundry in front of the TV goes faster than doing it in your bedroom. Podcasts will also work because they keep your brain active and make time go by faster. I have a challenging time working in one space, especially with tedious tasks like doing the dishes or working in the kitchen. I find mundane tasks joyful when putting on a YouTube podcast, and it keeps me from bouncing from room to room.


Let me know! What are some ways you stay on task when cleaning the house?


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