Using Microhabits to Change Your Cleaning Routine

Making a better cleaning routine, or sticking to your existing routine more consistently, can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are ways to help yourself form the right habits for these sometimes unpleasant tasks.

The idea that you can make large changes to your routine all at once, adapting to a whole new set of cleaning tasks, is perhaps tempting. However, this approach is harder to commit to in the long run. Instead, consider making smaller changes first in order to achieve your cleaning goals.

Big changes are difficult to keep going, but small changes are often easier to accommodate. For this reason, forming microhabits first can help you eventually master your cleaning routine. Microhabits are tiny alterations you can make to your routine that require little to no energy to execute. By incorporating these into your cleaning schedule, you make gradual changes in a way that promotes long-term results. This approach helps you reach your cleaning goals with ease.

Start Small

As suggested by their name, microhabits should be relatively small. This is vital, even if you feel you may have the energy to make a bigger change. Choose one tiny alteration to make to your cleaning routine, and only make one change at a time. There are several small changes to consider making to your cleaning habits, such as the following:

  • Change the time you perform a task, such as doing it first thing in the morning, or the night before. If a task does not have a set time, set one yourself to stay on track with everything you need to get done. For example, instead of cleaning the entryway floor when it gets noticeable dirty, sweep it every day before you leave the house.
  • Break up larger tasks that require a lot of time. If you need to clean all the windows in your house, clean one a day instead of all at once until they are done. This makes the task seem less overwhelming so you feel motivated to complete it.
  • Gradually minimize a habit that is impacting your cleaning routine. If you keep buying things you do not need, make an effort to buy one less item every week. That way, you can decrease the amount of extra tidying you need to do.

Use Goals

Having goals for your cleaning routine can help you determine which microhabits to form. For example, if you are concerned your kitchen is not being cleaned often enough, set your first microhabit here. Wash your breakfast dishes as soon as you have used them, or wipe down the counter every time you make a cup of coffee.

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Once you know your overall goal and set the microhabit, it is important to focus on the habit rather than the outcome. Otherwise you may still become overwhelmed at the number of changes you must make before the target is reached. By focusing on the small action of the microhabit, you make the change seem as easy as possible.

Evolve Your Current Routine

Creating a new habit from scratch is more difficult when you need to find a time to perform the action in the first place. If you already have a hard time sticking to your current routine, adding additional tasks throughout the day can be futile. Instead, try using your current routine to establish places where you can easily slot your microhabits. For example, make it a habit to wipe down your washbasin every time your brush your teeth. The existing habit gives you a place to attach the new habit, making it far easier to remember.

Specific Tasks

Make the microhabits as specific as you can. For instance, if you decide to clean the living room every afternoon for a short time, you might have trouble deciding what to clean and how long to spend on it. It is easier to skip the task once you become unsure of what you are required to do, as there was no specific task to begin with. Instead, try setting a task such as throwing out all junk mail and loose papers.

Make a specific change to the way you perform certain activities as well. For example, decide you are always going to put your keys in a certain place when you come home. You might also decide you are going listen to songs from a particular playlist every time you clean. This consistent music association can help to provide you with motivation and other positive feelings towards your routine.

Adapt and Change

While some cleaning tasks must be performed daily, many cleaning jobs only need to be performed once per week or per month. As a result, microhabits for cleaning differ from other types of microhabits. Instead of only having a daily routine, you may need to develop a weekly routine.

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The challenge here is that these tasks might not become as automatic as easily as daily ones. Use existing routine tasks to find places for your new microhabits even when you are planning out a lengthy schedule. For instance, schedule a task to be performed before a certain television show is on or after running a weekly errand to have a set reminder in place.

Particularly as you begin to adopt your new microhabits, it is important to stay aware of whether each change is working. The goal with a microhabit is for the action to be so easy it is effortless to perform. If your microhabits are taking too much effort, may they need to be altered. Go back and make the change smaller, or choose a new microhabit to try instead. You will gradually build on the routine you create, so you can set aside certain tasks to try again at another time.

Use Rewards

Making a new habit stick is often easier if you give yourself a reward for performing the necessary task. With microhabits, a big reward every time you perform the small task in question is not feasible. Instead, you could eventually incorporate rewards into your routine once you add enough microhabits to begin changing your routine on a larger scale.

Most importantly, enjoy the results of your changing routine. The added ease with which you perform your cleaning, as well as the pleasure of seeing a clean and tidy home, is a reward in and of itself. This helps to motivate you and allows you to keep your microhabits going.

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