Use the ‘Ski Slope’ Method When Cleaning Becomes Overwhelming

Use the ‘Ski Slope’ Method When Cleaning Becomes Overwhelming

Cleaning, decluttering, and organizing can get overwhelming if you try to tackle everything at once, and getting demoralized will only keep you from doing a good job (or doing it at all).

If this sounds like you, you need a plan of attack that will not only help you stay on task, but keep you feeling positive and motivated—so consider the so-called “ski slope method,” which aims to keep your morale up by keeping your tasks discrete and manageable.  

What is the ski slope method? 

This technique comes from Anita Yokota, a licensed therapist who approaches organizing from a perspective informed by her expertise in mental health. She outlines the method in her book Home Therapy: Interior Design for Increasing Happiness, Boosting Confidence, and Creating Calm

Yokota sees a connection between disarray in someone’s life and disarray in their home—and how those two things can exacerbate each other. So she suggests acknowledging that cleaning is “a mental marathon,” something that happens over time (and continuously) instead of all at once.

Yokota’s method prompts you to imagine your messy room is like a ski slope. If you try to go straight down (that is, tackle the entire task at once), it can feel overwhelming, but if you zig-zag (clean in stages), you can get down the mountain while experiencing far less stress.

So, consider the room you’re aiming to clean. Rather than looking at it as a whole (a huge mess you’ll never be able to clean!), start in one corner or section and work from there: clean, declutter, and organize. Move to the next side or section and do it again.. Continue moving through the room, working from side to side. As you finish each section, you can pause for a break if you need to, then pick back up where you left off.

Why the ski slope method works

The ski slope method helps you break your work into chunks that you can clearly visualize. Jumping from one corner or section to another farther away, you’re moving in bursts instead of starting in one spot and continually cleaning from there. As individual sections become tidy, you can see results, which can help you stay motivated. At the same time, the step-by-step approach gives you ample opportunities to take breaks, improving your chances of making it to the bottom of the mountain with your sanity intact.


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