The 2-Minute Rule I Use When I'm Too Depressed To Clean the Kitchen

by Heidi Fischer for The Mighty
Originally Published: 
A depressed mother cleaning the kitchen with her small daughter
Rene Frederick / Getty

Keeping things orderly is not my strong suit, especially when I’m dealing with depression. While all areas of my home suffer, no area suffers more than my kitchen. Dishes pile up, clutter is not organized and surfaces are not wiped down. Of course over time it only becomes worse, making it all the harder to find the motivation to get into cleaning it. I recently discovered a method that helps me to slowly get things into shape.

One day while staring at the microwave, counting down the seconds, I looked around and thought about how messy things were. Instead of continuing to stare at the numbers, I wondered how much I could get clean in the time I had left on the clock. I quickly filled up the dishwasher in those remaining seconds, and was amazed by how much I got done in the short window of time.

It was in this moment that my two-minute rule in the kitchen was born.

I decided any time I was in the kitchen waiting for something to be finished, I would use that time to speed clean. So whether I was waiting for the microwave, or my coffee to brew, I could slowly get things done, two minutes at a time. Two minutes sounds manageable when I am dealing with depression, and since I’m already in the kitchen, I don’t have to find the motivation to get up and get going.

If I spend 10 minutes in the kitchen over the day, that’s 10 minutes I can also clean. More often than not, I will go over my time limit, as once something is started it makes sense to complete it. This system isn’t perfect, and I never quite get to the very clean state I would like, but I am able to keep things at a somewhat manageable level.

If you would like to give this rule a try, here are some two minute kitchen cleaning ideas. These cleaning tasks can be done while waiting for the microwave, toaster, coffee machine, water to boil, the last few minutes on the oven, etc.

1. Load or unload the dishwasher.

2. Sweep the floor.

3. Wash counters, tables, etc.

4. Put bills and other papers in their proper place.

5. Place any trash in the garbage/recycling.

6. Start soaking dishes or wash as many as possible.

7. Put dirty dishcloths and towels in the washer, replace with clean ones.

8. Organize your junk drawer.

9. Make a list of kitchen items that are nearly out for your next shopping trip. (Dish soap, paper towels, plastic wrap, etc.)

10. Arrange your pantry, check for expired items and take note of any food you either need or have too much of.

I have found that my rule really helps me to keep things tolerably clean, which is good enough for me when I am in the middle of a depressive episode. I offer you my method in hopes that it can help you too, especially when you have low motivation or energy. Happy cleaning.

Originally published on The Mighty.

This article was originally published on