My home is a mess not because I don't care about it, but because I care too much... about everything. I'm like the absent-minded professor who gets so caught up in his thoughts and his work he forgets to get dressed before he goes out.
Let's just say that focusing is not my strong point - I either get overwhelmed and scattered and can't focus at all ("oh look - another shiny thing"), or I develop laser-like focus on one problem area to the detriment of all others ("it's 3:00 p.m. and I haven't eaten breakfast.")
I've tried different methods in the past. One of the best is to simply invite people over - my embarrassment supersedes all else, and I clean like a madwoman, usually right up until the time the doorbell rings announcing the first guest. But that is too stressful, and the results are fleeting, and sometimes my dirty secrets are revealed. (My cat likes to sit on an ottoman by the window in my living room. I once had a party and forgot to brush the ottoman before my guests arrived. Someone sat on the ottoman. He was either too polite or too drunk to mention anything, but I'm sure he was covered in hair.)
Ultimately, though, I would like to keep my surroundings clean and organized entirely for myself and not just because I fear the judgement of others. Reframing the reasoning behind my cleaning has sometimes helped. As in, I'm cleaning, not because I hate my space when it's messy, but because I love my space when it's clean. Working towards the positive feels better than working away from the negative.
There's a Tumblr site where people post before and after shots of their cleaning escapades, and the main site is chock-full of support in the form of tips, checklists, challenges and motivational mantras. I love the no-nonsense approach - "excuses are boring" is the unofficial UfYH motto. I also appreciate that the site's creators have taken certain barriers into consideration, such as illness, depression and chronic pain.
The information is also gender-neutral, and acknowledges that most home care advice "tends to ignore single people, or people without kids, or students, or people with pets, or people with roommates, or people with full-time jobs, or classes, or other shit going on." Yep, they are speaking my language.
I don't think I'll be submitting any before and after photos to the site quite yet, (some of my befores are just too embarrassing), but I do think I'll be visiting often for tips and motivation, and maybe, just maybe, I'll finally be able to break my cycle of messiness. And remember to eat breakfast.