Some people can wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “I’m going to clean the bathroom today,” and then they just … do it.
I am not “some people.”
I have always had trouble deciding what to do, when to do it, and then actually following through with those plans when I do eventually make them. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning (and other tasks that I desperately do not want to do).
Thankfully, I ran into this incredibly helpful post on Tumblr a few years back about a different cleaning strategy called “junebugging,” and now I’m going to share it with you. This cleaning method has made an unbelievable difference in the cleanliness of my home, and it has decreased my stress around cleaning by a factor of a thousand.
If you are tired of living in a cluttered, dirty mess, and tired of shaming yourself for letting things get this bad, and tired of feeling tired about all this but not being able to actually do anything about it, take a deep breath. Things are about to change, I promise.
What is Junebugging?
OK, so what is junebugging? Basically, it’s a cleaning strategy based on the way June bugs fight to get through window screens. In case you haven’t seen it, they climb all over the window screen, never getting through but trying different spots over and over anyway. This cleaning technique works the same way.
When you clean by junebugging, you pick a spot you want to clean and keep bringing yourself back to that spot, no matter where you wander through the cleaning process. The key is allowing yourself to wander but always coming back to your main spot.
The strategy was shared by a Tumblr user with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who found that their issues with attention often prevented them from cleaning one thing in one go. Instead of fighting this impulse or abandoning cleaning altogether (I’ve definitely been in both situations), this person found a workaround and, thankfully, they shared it with the world.
Wait, What if I Don’t Have ADHD?
Even though this strategy was developed by someone with ADHD to help other people with ADHD clean more effectively, anyone can benefit from it. Several commenters on the post shared that this strategy helped them overcome their struggles to clean that were related to autism, depression and more.
But it might be amazing for you.
If you struggle to get your cleaning done with the methods you’re currently trying, why not give something new a shot?
Step-By-Step Guide to the Junebugging Cleaning Strategy
To make things simple and clear, here is a short step-by-step guide to junebugging.
Pick a designated spot you want to clean. Be specific. Don’t pick “the bedroom.” Pick “the bed.”
Start cleaning your designated spot. If you notice that you’ve wandered away from your spot in the process of cleaning, return to your designated spot and keep cleaning it.
Repeat this pattern of noticing your departure from your spot and then returning, over and over, like a June bug.
If you need some examples to get a better picture of how junebugging actually works, here’s those same steps with more explanation.
Start by picking a very specific location that you want to clean. Don’t pick a room; pick a very specific location in a room. For me, I usually pick the side table next to my recliner in our living room. This is where my dishes and books and my son’s bottles tend to pile up, and I spend most of my time working in my recliner, so I am relatively highly motivated to clean it on a regular basis so I can put more stuff there.
Once you’ve picked your specific location you want to clean, pick something easy to accomplish and start it. For me, this often means loading dishes from last night’s dinner. But my husband’s dishes are out on his side table too, so I venture away from my designated spot to collect the other dishes. While I’m on his side of the living room, there will inevitably be socks on the couch because my husband leaves socks lying around like they are breadcrumbs and he is Hansel and Gretel, and he’s terrified he’s going to get lost in our thousand-square-foot house somehow.
I put them in the laundry hamper in our room, then I notice one of my dresses on the floor. I go hang it up in my son’s room (where my clothes live) when I remember that his diaper pail is overflowing. I start changing it, then I realize I am very far from my side table. I finish taking out the diapers, then I return to my spot and keep loading the dishes.
Here’s the thing about junebugging: it isn’t about finishing tasks in an orderly, step-by-step manner. It’s about getting something done, even if it isn’t what you set out to do. You might start 20 different small cleaning tasks and only finish five, but that’s way better than if you got overwhelmed at the beginning and didn’t do anything. Maybe I didn’t get the dishes loaded, but instead, I started laundry because I saw my husband’s socks, or maybe I picked up my son’s toys because I tripped over them as I was walking from the couch to the laundry, or maybe I even went grocery shopping because I realized we were out of dishwasher tablets.
Sometimes, by the time I’m done cleaning, my side table is still laden with stuff, but the house is much cleaner and I feel better.
If It’s Not About Finishing a Task, When Am I Done Junebugging?
If you’re used to more traditional cleaning methods, you may be wondering “OK … but when am I done?”
Great question. The answer is up to you. If there’s one thing you really need to get done for some reason (your cozy leggings are dirty and you really need to get laundry done so you can wear them tomorrow) then maybe you aren’t done junebugging until that task is finished. If there’s nothing that absolutely must be done today, then your finish line is up to you.
Sometimes, I’m done junebugging when my son demands my attention and we need to play for a while. Sometimes, I’m done because I hate cleaning and I just can’t do anymore. Other times, I’m done when I get hungry.
For me personally, I try to do a little junebugging every single day, so it’s OK if I don’t get absolutely everything done I wanted to. I’ll just get to it tomorrow … or in a few days.
Is junebugging the most efficient method of cleaning? No, not at all. Is it more efficient than staring at the task you’ve told yourself you have to do, not doing it, getting frustrated, and nothing gets done plus now you hate yourself?
If you give junebugging a shot, let me know in the comments. If you have any other cleaning hacks for distracted brains, I’d love to hear about them!
A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog, Megan Writes Everything.