Why Cleaning is the Best Method of Procrastination

Title lends itself to having some kind of scientific research to back it up, well sorry readers I provide you nothing of the sort. Read on.

Let’s be honest, we all need to procrastinate at times. It’s important for our mental health, and it may even contribute to better quality work that is produced when we’re under the gun.  Hell, I think it may provide you with a better quality of life. I have one fail safe method of procrastination. I clean. I will clean anything and everything when I’m putting off a project.

I love cleaning, for a few reasons.

1) Instant Gratification: When you clean you see the results immediately. First the dirt is there, and then it’s gone. The pile of books is messed up and falling all over the place, immediately it’s in a neat pile on your desk, or book shelf. I love that. When I think about how writing is the opposite of instant gratification, I’m convinced that it’s part of the reason why I love to clean so much.

2) It’s hygienic. I don’t like messes and hate filth. Even though I haven’ t lived under the same roof as my parents for quite some time, I still make my bed every morning. I do this for two reasons.

         a) I think crawling into an unmade bed is disgusting. It doesn’t feel fresh and doesn’t look inviting.

        b) Even when my entire room is a disaster zone ( and I admit this does happen, but not often) a made bed gives the illusion that the room is cleaner than it actually is. Plus, who can fold clothes on a messy bed. That is gross.

        c) Okay there are three reasons why I make my bed every morning. When I was in elementary school, and I think through middle school my mother would NOT drive us ( my sisters and I) to school unless our beds were made. She didn’t even care if we were late. So, I guess I’ve been a little brainwashed. Regardless, I am the better for it.

3) Cleaning is a way to jump start productivity. It’s not like the cleaning doesn’t have to get done, it does; and what better way to get started with all the other crap you have to do that doesn’t leave you feeling gratified instantly than by doing something that immediately produces results and gets the ball rolling?

4) Working, like writing, or reading is easier to do in a clean space. I don’t how many of you out there are like me, but I can’t work on a paper, or short story unless my room is clean. I just can’t focus. When my room is a mess and I’m trying to concentrate, I find myself thinking of cleaning and not focusing on my school work, or writing. Also, when the space is clean, the work is just better.  This goes hand in hand with being organized. I keep my binders organized and write in planner neatly and this keeps my ass in line.

If you are struggling to focus, look around you. Should your space be condemned? Is there crap on the floor? Or cluttered on your desk? If so, take half an hour and clean it up. You’ll be glad you did!


Because I’m obsessed with cleaning, I helped organize an office clean up at school. A few of us got together after teaching and rearranged the office furniture; removing pieces that were broken and not efficiently using the space. We dusted, mopped and decorated. 

In the past, according to my colleagues who have been there longer than me, the office was a dump. Part of this is because all of the furniture in the office is old and doesn’t match. But the other reason, I think, is because no one took the time to give a shit, and clean it up. The new English Graduate Student Society’s administration decided ( and yes I’m a part of this group) there was no time like the present. We wanted to start the fall semester off right.

The office looks fabulous. It’s clean and while we added a desk to the space, the room looks bigger. It smells clean and the English department is going to have the floor waxed. I’m stoked.

The GTA office has never been a space where one can concentrate, partly because it’s always packed with teachers and students, mostly us GTA’s socializing; but I also think the lack of productivity in the room is or should I say was, because it was so cluttered in there. Perhaps Fall 2009 will be the most productive year our English Graduate Department will ever have. If, or should say when, it is it will because we got the ball rolling by cleaning.

I know I’m a bit OCD when it comes to cleaning, and I’m also probably very left brained, still being clutter free is vital for my survival as both a student, teacher–hell as a human.


One comment

  1. My apartment has never been cleaner! Hi, MFA! I just started a blog chronicling my own academic adventures and was searching for others out there doing the same! Was happy to stumble upon yours…Look forward to reading more…Ciao! http://phdsavvy.wordpress.com

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