How to: Make Yourself Clean Your House

when you absolutely hate cleaning your house.

Three months ago I left my full-time job and launched myself into the penny-pinching life of a startup founder. First thing to get cut from the budget- pedicures. Second thing to go- the house cleaner.*

The above in no way resembles my ideal Sunday afternoon. Not only do I hate cleaning, I'm also bad at it.

About two years ago, I decided I could financially justify hiring a house cleaner. It was a great decision. I'm a busy lady and when I am not working, I want to be traipsing through the woods with no cell service not vacuuming rugs and scrubbing claw foot tubs.  I totally believe in outsourcing this kind of thing if you can. Alas, with the great leap into founderhood comes the great loss of outsourced cleaning.

By week three, the dust, dog hair, and mildew reared its ugly head. I closed my eyes tight and willed it to disappear, but no dice. I consulted (bitched to) my frientor** Elena for advice. Since she manages to run a startup, maintain a marriage, raise two kick ass kids, and clean her own damn house, I often find myself consulting her on such matters of life.  

She, a fellow NPR fan, generously shared this amazing tip: Only listen to podcasts while cleaning.

This has totally worked for me, and here's why I think it will work for you:

1) If you are a podcast junkie like me: You're used to falling asleep to them every night, listening to them on drives and while you cook. You must be strong and starve yourself! No podcasts until Sunday cleaning time. By the time it rolls around and you get to pop two podcasts on back to back, you'll be so blissed-out from the binge you won't even notice you're scrubbing a toilet. (You will, but you will also actually clean the toilet which is really the point).

2) If you wish you had time for podcasts but can't seem to make time: You now have time. I have granted you one-to-two uninterrupted hours to listen to lovely voices tell you stories! Grab yourself a little This American Life, maybe some Radiolab or Diane Rehm and enjoy.

If you don't think you need to spend one uninterrupted hour per week cleaning your house, you probably need to re-examine your standards. If someone else is cleaning your house every week and not getting paid for it (girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/roommate) I encourage you to take the following steps:

1) Ask yourself whether this division of responsibility was an active choice or if it "just kind of happened." (Now think about that).

2) Regardless of the answer to the above, find out this angel's alcoholic beverage of choice and go get them a bottle to thank them for being such a consistent contributor to your quality of life.

3) Ask them earnestly if they'd like to handle responsibilities differently, or if there's anything additional you might do to help.

4) If they say no, wait for Sunday afternoon to roll around and help out around the house  (in some way) anyway. After all, this is your podcast time! You can't let them take that away from you.


*Wouldn't want to marginalize the Cleaning Gentlemen out there.

**Yes, I realize both of these "budget cuts" place me squarely in the #whitegirlproblems category, but truth it truth.

**Friend-mentor. Everyone needs these.