In twenty minutes I can fold and put away two loads of laundry.
In twenty minutes I can sweep all the hard floors in my house and clean the bathroom.
How do I know this?
I time myself.
It's really easy for me to look at a dirty house at the end of a day and say, "I will be picking up toys until I die. I can't do this." Suddenly the task of putting the house into order (I've realized what I do isn't so much cleaning as it is preventing the house from attracting the attention of the local health department) looms enormous in my head and I suddenly, desperately, want to sleep.
That's when I set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes.
"Just twenty minutes," I tell myself. "See what kind of a dent you can make in twenty minutes. Then you can go do something fun. This, too, shall pass. Just twenty minutes."
And I get to work.
Usually when the timer buzzes I've made significant progress on preventing the house from attracting the attention of the local health department and I usually feel motivated to keep going. Sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for ten, and sometimes I'll go hog wild crazy and crank the timer all the way back up to twenty.
My family thinks I'm kind of crazy, except for the kids, who are too little to know better. No one even bothers to check the oven anymore when they hear the timer buzzing. But I will tell you, people, it works. In fact, to date, not a single person has reported us to the health department. I consider this a homemaking triumph.