The Simple Cleaning Trick That Will Help You Finish Every One of Those “I’ll Get to It” Tasks

updated Mar 10, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Most people keep a mental (if not literal) list of “I’ll do that one day” tasks around the house. My list includes decluttering the closet where we keep the art supplies and games, renewing the dirty grout on our kitchen back splash, touching up the paint on the pedestal of our dining table, and a final (yeah, right) overhaul of our garage.

Though the undone chores niggle at me when I encounter them, they aren’t dirty enough or in my face enough to push me over the edge of tackling them in a fit of not being able to stand it anymore. So the paper in the art closet gets shuffled around as we reach for the Jenga, and I re-notice the chipped paint every time I wipe crumbs from the table. I don’t have the time to do it when I’m reminded of what’s undone and it promptly leaves my consideration until the next time I notice it with no time to spare.

But I’ve found a way to break this cycle, an almost surefire way to begin pushing the proverbial snowball: If I set out my supplies or tools and put them next to what needs to be done, the reminder isn’t the mess or blemish itself, but rather the tools to get the task done.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Think about it: A quart of paint and a paint brush will be way more effective at jogging your memory on a weekend afternoon — the moment when you’re most likely to take the task on — than the spot of chipped paint. The nudge builds that little bit of momentum that turns inertia into action.

Here are some ways to set up this simple, no-hurdle first step that promises the payoff of a checked-off chore:

  • Put your gloves, oven cleaner of choice, and scrubbing pad out on the counter by the oven.
  • Grab a small paintbrush, a rag, and the black paint and put it in the spot where you need to do your touch ups.
  • Put microfiber cloth on the floor near the wall you’ve been meaning to wipe down.
  • Place the label maker and the ready-to-go organizers on the floor near the art closet door.
  • Get out the Magic Eraser and set it near the back splash in your kitchen so you can wipe down the grout the next time you’re waiting for the microwave to beep.

How will you harness the memory-jogging power of setting out your supplies?

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: One Cleaning Trick That Will Help You Finish Every One of Those “I’ll Get to It” Tasks