How My “80 Percent Mindset” Helps Me Stay on Top of Kitchen Clutter

published Apr 17, 2023
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Mother vacuum cleaning while carrying toddler son
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This year has been a particularly hard one for my family. And when things are hard, my go-to strategy is to double-down on everything I can control, such as my spring cleaning schedule. 

I picked up K.C. Davis’s How to Keep House While Drowning, thinking she would tell me how to make everything sparkle despite, well, everything else. Instead, her book taught me more about self-compassion than anything I’ve read in the last decade. 

Reading the book reminded me of something a friend has been saying to me for years: “What if 80 percent is actually better than 100 percent?” That jives with what Davis writes: “Good enough is perfect.” So with their voices in my head, I’m following these six rules for a kinder spring clean in 2023. 

1. Remove 20 percent.

The first thing I’m doing this year is scratching off 20 percent of the items on my spring cleaning list. (I’m nothing if not a literalist.) It doesn’t matter if the tasks should be done or not. Perfect is removing 20 percent. That means I’m definitely not pulling out my oven and scrubbing the floor underneath. I’m also not moving my couch to sweep under the rug. Basically all heavy lifting is the first to go. 

2. Trade the “to-do” list for a “done” list. 

Step one is just a mental exercise really, to establish what I’m definitely not doing. As for the rest, there will be no looming list of undone tasks. Because the truth is, 80 percent may be too much for me this year. Instead, when cued by a gentle chime from my phone, I’m going to look around the room for one thing I can clean deeply in the minutes I have. Even if it’s wiping a small section of baseboards, that counts. Adding it to the done list. 

3. Spend out on supplies that make cleaning easier. 

I’m frugal to a fault. When the cover on my curling iron handle broke, did I buy a new iron? No, I curled my hair wearing an oven mitt. All that to say, it’s hard for me to buy the microfiber cloths, quality vacuum, and extendable duster that will make deep cleaning so much easier. This year, I’m spending out on cleaning supplies

4. Buy something fun.

Speaking of spending out, this year’s spring cleaning will include a bit of indulgence. This could be an Apple Music subscription or a delicious smelling cleaning spray from Anthropologie. For me, it’s an Audible subscription, which means I can listen to the latest bestseller without waiting weeks for my library hold. And because I took advantage of a sign-up bonus, my “indulgence” only costs $5 per month. 

5. I’m getting rid of things I hate to clean. 

Okay, I’m not getting rid of my refrigerator. But I am getting rid of any knickknack or small appliance that I dread cleaning. I’m looking at you, pasta machine. 

6. When the first day of summer arrives, I’m done. 

Yes, there will be a dusty lampshade somewhere in my home when spring comes to an end. But that’s just proof that I did it right. It wasn’t part of my 80%. 

What does a kinder spring clean look like for you? Let us know in the comments!