15 Things You Can Clean in 15 Minutes

You know Leslie Knope’s house in Parks and Rec when she is going to host a dinner party to impress her well-traveled boyfriend? Remember the complete mess? Okay, please refer to figure 1.a

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Figure 1.a The Official Chart of Messy Houses

Needless to say, my house is such a wreck that Ralph should live here (anyone? anyone?). I have a difficult time getting the cleaning done because I don’t care enough to clean. I only care when someone is coming over. Then I bust my butt and get mad when it’s down to the wire and everything is still too messy. I feel overwhelmed by my house right now and I need simple short tasks I can easily complete. I present to you: 15 things that you can clean in 15 minutes.

  1. Coffee table – mine has a ton of dishes and school books on it with a few other odds and ends, but I can’t see the table so it’s probably time to clean it.
  2. Bookshelf – my kids have half a bookshelf that is for all their mass of books and luckily they like to read. Unluckily, they haven’t figured out how to actually put books back nicely so it’s all pretty.

    Figure 1.b Actual footage from my dreams

  3. Entryway – shoes flood the area since I started the “take your shoes off at the door” rule. Not to mention mail and random stuff has accumulated on the little desk by the door. Time to put it all away and light a candle to get rid of the stinky shoe smell.
  4. Couch – I spend a lot of time on the couch. Like a lot. I pretty much set up camp on the couch and I do all my schoolwork, blogging, and Pinteresting here. As I look to my right I can see:
    • my blog notes
    • my daughter’s homework folder
    • a book that belongs with the kids’ books on the bookshelf
    • my planner
    • a box of Kleenex
    • an empty plate with a knife on top (I had a bagel earlier).
    • my church projection computer notes
    • a few coloring pages
    • a few blankets of various sizes (you need to be ready for anything)
  5. Folding a basket of clothes – I don’t always get the laundry done before we run out of clothes, but when I actually do the laundry, I rarely fold it or put it away. We spend way too many mornings putting our clothes back in the dryer to get the wrinkles out so we don’t look like hobos. I should probably get better at folding clothes.
  6. Putting away the basket of clothes

    Figure 1.c All of the people who have never put away a basket of clothes before

    Calm down. I know this is a ridiculous request, but if we put away our clothes, tomorrow we can get out of the shower and open our closet like some rich girl from the movies and it will make us feel good!

  7. Throw away the trash in the kitchen – I’m not sure why I don’t throw away trash as I make it, but I don’t. It stays on the counter until I or someone else cleans the kitchen. Full disclosure: no one else in my house throws their trash away either, so it’s not just me. It will take no time at all to simply walk around the kitchen throwing things away.
  8. Hallway – I have one hallway and unless someone has thrown the entire contents of their room into the hallway (for which there is a precedent), my hallway cleaning entails picking up a few things and vacuuming. Super quick.
  9. The dining room table – there is a small caveat to this one: I’m not including doing the dishes from the table. I just set them in the sink. #ihatedoingdishes
  10. The top of my dresser/my makeup table – the top of my dresser has the really large mirror on it and it is where I do my hair and makeup. I don’t clean as I go (haven’t you figured that out yet?) and it gets pretty cluttered and wrecked. Putting things back where they belong doesn’t really take that much effort from me, other than deciding to do it.
  11. Start a load of laundry – oh no, we came full circle, didn’t we? It doesn’t take too long and if you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you need clean clothes just as much as I do.
  12. Bathroom mirror(s) – I never think about cleaning the mirrors until its a sunny day and the blinds are open and I can clearly see all the splashes from the sink all over the mirrors. Maybe I need to come up with a cleaning schedule…
  13. The bed – if you have stuff all over your bed such as books, clean clothes, electronics, etc., put them away in the simplest way possible. If you don’t have time to put away the clean clothes in 15 minutes, put them back in the basket and find a place for the basket. Get it? Honestly, I always think making my bed is a waste of time. I’m going to mess it up in a few hours anyway. But when I do, it looks so warm and cozy and special. I remember once again how good the sight of my made bed makes me feel and I wonder why I don’t do it every day.
  14. The kids’ beds – my daughter is just old enough to be able to make her bed. The boys are still pretty small so I make their beds for them… occasionally. Most of the time they just stay unmade. But there is something that inspires me about a made bed (see #13).
  15. Pick up trash in your car – depending on how bad the trash situation in your car is, this whole job might take more than 15 minutes. If that’s the case, set a timer and clean until it goes off. If you are so inclined, go ahead and finish the job. If not, walk proudly back into your house knowing you worked hard today. For me, I pick up the trash while we are going through the car wash. I always grab a few complimentary trash bags as we go through the car wash line. The next time we get a wash, I have the kids unbuckle as soon as I pull into the parking lot and they take a trash bag and fill it up. By the time we get to the trash can, I grab a few more bags, the job is done and I didn’t have to do much at all. Win-win.

If you struggle with keeping a clean house like I do, #1: please let me know because I like to see that other people struggle with the same things I do and #2: know your not the only person who has a messy house. You’re not alone. We may be gross but we’re gross together! Gross power! Okay but seriously, let’s pick something to clean because it’s about time.

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Inspiration to Get Your Homework Done

If you’re anything like me, you are a procrastinator. For example, I’m putting off homework right now! In my intro to college class (that colleges make you take so you know how to study and what resources are available to you and how to make it in the real world) we are talking about how lack of motivation is the number one reason students drop out of school. They may say it’s money or that it’s too hard, but it’s more than likely that they’ve run out of steam.

I wish I looked this good when I don’t want to get out of bed but that’s a lot of effort and makeup to sleep in. Not that I haven’t done it before…

Here’s the thing. You’re going to lose your motivation. It happens all the time. Becoming an adult means learning to find the motivation again after you’ve lost it. Elementary school teachers are constantly trying to figure out how to teach material in a fun and engaging way so that the kids stay motivated to finish the lesson and remember the subject matter. The older you get, the less interested your teachers are about making it fun, more they are looking for meaningful connections and discussion. You have to find inspiration and motivation on your own.

And so it goes with life. BYOI (or BYOM for those who like that better). You’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do. There will be times you have to summon the motivation just to get up off the couch or out of bed. For people with depression, this is impossible. Or at least it feels that way.

The first thing to do is believe it is possible to get your homework done. Repeat after me: I can get my homework done. Breathe. Say it again. Take a bigger breath and say it one more time. You got this.

Look! The Doctor believes in you!

The bright side to doing your homework is that you probably only have to get up to go get your materials. Otherwise, you can just sit down on the couch. You don’t have to get up or do manual labor. Physically, this is an easy task.

Something I do a lot when I am procrastinating and dreading homework is to make a homework plan for this particular homework session and for the week. I like making lists and I like seeing things in small tasks. It helps me. I like having a plan.

Journaling has really helped inspire me lately. Try opening a Google Doc and writing out your ultimate goal for your education. Do you simply want to graduate high school? Go on to college? Graduate from college? What kind of degree do you want? What might be nice to major in? Write out all these things and then write a story from your point of view. I want you to imagine you are achieving your ultimate educational goal right now. I want you to write what is happening to you, where you are, who is with you, a whole complete description. Make sure to include how you feel on this day. Once you’ve finished, you’ve got a vision. Look back at this during the bad times, when you can’t remember why you wanted to go to college in the first place. Resist all thoughts of impossibility. If you can’t, write down the thoughts running through your head and change can’t to can and write down why and how you can do it. Every negative thought should become positive

Go to Pinterest. Make a board just for homework inspiration. Put pictures of pretty desks on it. Find interesting homework assignments and funny ones. Put pictures of what you imagine you will look like after completing your homework or schooling. Find cute school supplies and backpacks. Anything that moves you to want to do your work, put it there.

Make a playlist of your favorite movie soundtracks. Try to stay away from songs with lyrics and songs that remind you of lullabies. Keep it upbeat and moving. You’ll like the familiarity of the music but it won’t distract you from your work. Original video game music is also great for studying because it’s meant to keep your focus and keep you on edge, helping you get your homework done faster.

Play pretend. Make believe that you work for NASA and that it is imperative that you figure out these equations pronto. Maybe you’re a detective taking detailed notes on your subject. You’re not about to let another murder happen on your watch. Or you could be sitting on a train in the early 1900s writing a novel or a letter to your dearest friend while a server brings you champagne (go get a champagne flute with whatever drink you like to complete the picture), or my personal favorite, you are studying with your crush and you are sitting right next to him. He doesn’t know you like him, you don’t know he likes you, but you both have fallen madly in love. He watches you and all your little mannerisms when you’re not looking. He’s learning the little things about you and he accidentally lets it slip that he knows too much about you for your relationship to be in the friend zone. He lends you his sweatshirt and it smells so incredibly good and you and he study together, neither of you willing to admit your feelings, but he is confident and sure of himself. See? You can get super detailed with it if you want to (as you can see I have). Make your homework a part of your happy place.

Look, I know you are dreading this. Start with fifteen minutes of work. If you can get through fifteen legitimate minutes of work, then you can treat yourself to a cookie or reading one chapter of your favorite book. Find something.

You can do this.

You can do this.

You can do this.

I believe in you.

I love you.