Pre-pandemic, setting aside a whole day to clear all the unnecessary things in my room didn’t seem practical for me. Though stacks of books and other odds and ends dating back to my elementary years littered my floor and shelves, and random loose documents and stationery often cluttered my desk, the mere thought of going through all of this accumulated junk would send me spiraling.
The way I saw things, if the mess wasn’t hindering any of my daily activities (read: not visibly or physically disgusting) why bother placing unnecessary stress on myself? Time I could’ve spent cleaning was instead spent in transit, at work, watching movies, or hanging out with friends. Never mind that my regular work set-up would leave me with only enough space to set down my laptop.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in dreading the thought of cleaning. According to Twitter data from online cleaning portal Cleanipedia, which provides easy house cleaning tips, most people online are stressed from cleaning their bedrooms, with the main cause being tasks like dusting and sweeping.
Cleanipedia Digital Lead Regina Ocampo explains that this apprehension towards cleaning the bedroom is because “[they] are often the messiest rooms in the house and tend to be the place where we dump things that don’t really have a home elsewhere.”
The portal collected the Twitter data by scanning through TensiStrength, an academic tool that detects stress levels in short pieces of text based on the classification of words. In the Philippines, Capiz is the province with the highest percentage of cleaning stress-related tweets at 38.3%, which representatives at Cleanipedia suggest could be because “lots of people in Capiz no doubt take on housekeeping responsibilities themselves.”
Other provinces with residents that seem to be stressed about cleaning include Pangasinan, Lanao del Norte (37.3%), and Metro Manila, where 35% to 40% of tweets had ill sentiments about cleaning.
2020 was a record year for stress around the globe, with causes ranging from the larger picture of economic uncertainty, to smaller things such as work from home burnout. Locally, it doesn’t help that the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country and uncertain quarantine guidelines have shut many Filipinos inside for a seemingly never-ending lockdown. So yes, the ‘burden’ of cleaning one’s living space just adds on to that.
In my case, it took a couple of months under lockdown for me to realize that all the time I used to spend doing more “worthwhile” activities was now spent at home, in my mess of a living space. With the boundaries between work and home being blurred due to changes in my everyday work set-up, tidying up became the solution to clear my head and define those lines.
The build-up of mess, according to Ocampo, is something that can be prevented by doing small everyday tasks. After finally giving in and reducing the clutter little by little, I found that I actually wasn’t a slob — I just needed to figure out a cleaning system that worked for me.
Below, Ocampo shares a few tips for small tasks you can do to lessen all of that cleaning stress.
Clean up after yourself as you go along your daily routine.
Some of these tasks, such as making your bed upon waking up or clearing your dining table after eating, may seem obvious, but a lot of it adds up. Ocampo says to encourage everyone in the household to put things back in their places when they’re finished using them, “and make sure anything you take out to use is filed away when you’re done.” “The goal is to minimize [the] mess as it is created to stop it becoming a problem later,” she says.
Whenever you leave a room, take one thing with you that’s not supposed to be there.
This way, you won’t have to exert too much of an effort to put everything in its rightful place. Ocampo also suggests investing in storage solutions like stackable boxes for things that don’t really have a place.
If you have no choice but to do a major declutter, take it one room at a time
If the lack of time during the day leaves you with no choice but to do a one time big time cleaning at the end of the week or month, try to take it easy so as not to overwhelm yourself. “Make it fun for yourself by playing your favorite music or a TV show in the background, and take breaks when you need to,” says Ocampo.