You have just over two weeks to spiff up the house for Thanksgiving — and the December holidays (and fun) can overload anyone. So get going now and have a more relaxing season the next month and a half!

If my family was ever expecting company while I was growing up, my mom insisted that the house was spotless. But, if it were during the holidays, she would ramp the cleaning into high gear. Of course, with the added chore load, I wasn’t happy thrilled about this. But, as an adult, I’ve followed in my mom’s footsteps.

Personally, if the house is a pigpen, I’m embarrassed. Sure, everything doesn’t have to be perfect. But, you want your guests to feel at home. And, more importantly, it also shows that you have pride in your home and are respectful to others.

Besides, having a clean and organized home comes with the following unexpected benefits;

  • Research shows that the environment around us affects our emotions, behaviors, and productivity. As such, a messy or unclean house can make you feel stressed and anxious, which reduces your focus.
  • A clean home means fewer germs, mold, and allergy triggers. Also, this keeps away uninvited guests, like pests.
  • Cleaning your home has the unnoticed benefit of making you happier. For example, one study found that simply washing dishes can reduce nervousness and increase inspiration by a solid 25 percent.
  • When your bedroom is clean and comfortable, you’ll sleep better.
  • Housework isn’t just a clever way to sneak in some physical activity, it can also keep your brain young.

During the holidays, however, cleaning and organizing your home is even more critical. Why? Because an astounding 88% say the holidays are the most stressful time of the year.

As such, why worry about cleaning your guest room while juggling end-of-responsibilities and enjoying seasonal activities? Thankfully, you can avoid this if you get ahead on cleaning and organizing your home before being fully immersed in the holiday season.

1. Determine what should be done first.

Obviously, it’s hard to get everything done in the short amount of time you have. But we all have rooms in our houses that are more cluttered than others. Therefore, you should prioritize what areas need to be cleaned and organized first in your home.

For example, if you’re expecting family to spend a week with you, then you should tackle the guest room first. On the other hand, if you’re planning on just having a holiday feast, then clean out your fridge, pantry, and get the dining room in order.

Knowing where to focus your cleaning efforts by importance gives you a starting point. And, it makes this whole endeavor much less daunting.

2. Don’t overwhelm yourself; start small.

Are you familiar with the saying, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves?” Well, there’s certainly a lot of truth that.

By taking your time to declutter your home before the holidays you won’t feel as rushed or stressed. So it’s suggested that you start far enough in advance as possible. For instance, if straightening the guest room is your priority, focus on one thing at a time. Maybe get the closet cleared out and then do an inventory of your bedding.

3. Set a cleaning schedule.

One of the most helpful tips, at least for me, is to plan the cleaning schedule around the priority list. Having such a timeline will show you which tasks need to be completed first. And, more importantly, how long they will take.

What’s more, this can help you stay on track. It also ensures that you won’t miss anything along the way. Personally, I clean every Saturday morning. Having this schedule also prevents calendar conflicts which are common with so much going on this time of year.

4. Make cleaning and organizing part of your decorating plans.

“My No. one organized tip for holiday decorating is to remove as much of your everyday bric a brac as possible and store it in the holiday bins for the season,” says Nonnahs Driskill, founding organizer of Get Organized Already. “This way you aren’t adding more clutter.”

Driskill’s tip is something that I’ve been doing for years. While putting away non-holiday items, I do a deep clean and get rid of unused items before putting up decorations. In my opinion, this is killing two birds with one stone.

5. Smell the holiday spirit.

You can bring the holiday spirit into your home, and deodorize it, by using limited edition scents during the holiday season. Essential oils and an oil diffuser, for example, can achieve that holiday fragrance. But, there are also holiday-themed air fresheners, soaps, and cleaning products.

6. Pump up the jams.

Even if you have a cleaning schedule in place, there will be days when you’re not in a cleaning state of mind. If so, you can use music to get motivated. After all, music has the power to increase stimulation, reduce fatigue, and improve motor coordination.

If you’re a fan of holiday music that lifts your spirits and gets your body moving, then listening to your holiday playlist should do the trick. However, songs like “Livin’ on a Prayer” Bon Jovi, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana, “Whatta Man” Salt-N-Pepa, “Just Dance” Lady Gaga, and “Happy” Pharrell Williams are recommended.

7. Get the whole family involved.

There is no such thing as a one-person show when it comes to cleaning and organizing a home. Remember, it takes a whole household to make a mess. As such, all the members of that household should help chip in and help.

If you have young children, this won’t be an easy task. But if you make it a game, they may not complain as much. And, who knows? Maybe they’ll even have fun as well.

8. Give back.

Do you have items that you no longer use? Instead of throwing them away, donate them so that you can do good this holiday season. Specifically, you want these items, like coats, blankets, or canned goods, to go to those in need. Even better, organizations like the Salvation Army, Arc, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity offer donation pick-ups.

9. Relocate your office.

Before 2020, few people would have even considered decluttering one crucial task. “If your WFH office is currently on the dining table,” she says, “find another stop-gap place to work for the day of your event (maybe the day before and after as well).”

Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a more dedicated workspace, such as in a spare room, you may want to temporarily move elsewhere if you have people staying over. Sure, it’s an inconvenience. But, what’s the alternative? Try to work quietly when they’re still sleeping or waiting until the room isn’t occupied?

10. Don’t overstuff your calendar.

“Your calendar is probably more full than usual during the holidays — with work obligations, social events, and travel,” Deanna Ritchie writes in a previous Calendar article. “Obviously, this can lead to problems like scheduling conflicts and putting other priorities over your own.” If you’re celebrating until the early hours, your sleep may even be impacted.

“Instead, keep your calendar as lean as possible,” Deanna advises. The next time you’re invited to a holiday party, decline the invitation politely if you’re already accepted one. “If you have a packed schedule at work, then don’t take a meeting with a client until you have the availability.”

In addition to maintaining your productivity throughout the holidays, this also frees-up time for you to clean and organize your home before the holiday season gets fully underway.

Image credit: irina iriser; pexels; Thank you!