6 tricks you can use to make your home look better and feel cleaner in 20 minutes or less

Rachel Hoffman’s “Unf*ck Your Habitat” is as much about self-empowerment as it is about taking care of your home.

As in: Your bedroom doesn’t have to look like your most neurotically organised friend’s bedroom. You don’t have to spend every weekend vacuuming to be a successful adult. You do you!

But — and this is important — you can still feel good about inviting people over; you can still eat dinner without the stench of overflowing trash wafting over you. Hoffman shows you how to get there without losing your sanity.

Below, we’ve rounded up six of our favourite tips from the book, all of which you can use in the next 20 minutes.

Use 20/10s

This strategy is simple: You clean for 20 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. Hoffman says you can tweak the exact times, so you clean for 45 minutes and take a 15-minute break, for example.

That’s enough time to put away a clean load of laundry or take the level of grossness down a notch in your bathroom.

The idea is to avoid what Hoffman calls “marathon cleaning” — i.e., you let your home get messier and messier (and messier) until it reaches the point where you can barely breathe. Then you spend a few days “cleaning like a maniac until it’s livable again.”

By using your version of 20/10s, you’ll see cleaning as a more manageable project — as Hoffman writes, “a series of smaller chunks of time that each has a definite beginning and a definite end.”

Gamify’ the tasks

Hoffman’s book features several “challenges” that make cleaning more like a game than a chore. For example: “Look around. Find ten things that aren’t where they belong. Put them away.”

Or: “Take ten minutes and reset as much as you can back to clean. Put items away, throw trash out, and hang up or put away your clothes until the timer goes off.”

Consider it the Mary Poppins version of being a responsible adult.

Take before and after photos

Hoffman shares an insight about cleaning that applies just as well to life in general: “The trouble with cleaning up your own mess is that sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, it’s really difficult to see any progress that you’ve made.” Deep, right?

Here’s the practical solution: Take a picture right before you start, at different stages throughout the cleaning process, and then once you’ve finished. Seeing how far you’ve come will likely motivate you to do even better.

Don’t stress if you can’t get your partner or roommate on board

Hoffman is clear that the best time to have a conversation about housework is before you move in with someone. But that doesn’t always happen.

If you live with other people, there are two things to keep in mind.

One: “Chances are, you’re revved up (about cleaning) and they aren’t.” And two: “It’s not a reflection on how they feel about you; it’s a reflection on how they feel about housework.”

In other words, focus on your own goals, even if that means cleaning around them while they’re plopped on the sofa. It doesn’t need to be a fight.

Abandon perfection

A key tenet of Hoffman’s philosophy on organisation is that your home may not look like the spaces featured in those home decor magazines — now or ever.

“Let go of ‘perfect,'” Hoffman writes in bold, “and embrace ‘good enough.'” In other words, if you can see the floor — even if there are still some shoes lying on it — that’s progress.

She’s quick to recognise that it can be hard to magically get rid of anxiety or perfectionism — but it helps to think, “What’s the worst-case scenario if the task is imperfectly done?”

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