The Lessons of Cancer…Cleaning House

So we all love a clean house.  At least most of us do.  I love it when my house is clean, but I don’t like to do it.  Having a cleaning person was one of the great joys of my past, but I can no longer justify that expense.  During cancer treatment I did not have the energy to clean other than the basics.  My sister helped me on several occasions.  I am still catching up!

Perhaps you have a very regimented cleaning schedule.  I truly have been disorganized in this area of my life.  If someone came to my house unannounced it was presentable, but I made sure I dimmed the lights and threw stuff in the closet as they were walking up the sidewalk!

Since cancer treatment, I realized I just didn’t want to put so much energy, both mental and physical, into things that don’t matter that much.    You might think that I have it easy because I live alone.  Oh quite the contrary!  There is no one to blame for the messes except me!  That is a heavy burden to bear!  I am the only slob in the house!

My new routine involves something I’ve read about for years, but only did once or twice.  Now I do it regularly.  In the early morning when I have the most energy, I set my kitchen timer for 15 minutes.  I focus on three rooms and do the most I can do in that 15 minutes.   It is absolutely amazing what can be accomplished in that short amount of time!   It is a contest for me, I get exercise in, and I am twice as fast as I would be if I didn’t have that timer set.  Today I added 10 minutes so I could clean even more!   If I wasn’t under the gun, no way would I ever add time to my cleaning detail!

In 25 minutes I was able to sweep and mop one bathroom floor, unload and load the dishwasher, straighten the kitchen, dump the wastebaskets, make the living room neat, sort and throw away junk papers, and sweep the entire house!!  The timer was buzzing when I finished sweeping!  Instead of feeling depleted, I felt energized!

If you need even more motivation, get a close friend or family member involved.  My sister and I discovered this motivational tool.   We call each other and say, okay 20 minutes of cleaning – ready, set, go.   And we have a competition to see who can get the most done at our individual houses!  It is extremely motivating!

In summary, cancer treatment made cleaning less of a chore to me.   I am so thankful to have the energy to clean and I am grateful.  As a result, I have found a new way of doing things to bring better results.



  1. I am very impressed, Denise! I, too, work better under deadlines so will have to try this. It’s amazing how good it feels just to tick a few things of a list and accomplish something as well. And then you can reward yourself! Take care xx

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