Remember back to one of the times when you really made a total mess while cleaning. It was probably when you encountered something unexpected, like a stopped-up toilet, a leaky faucet or a filter you thought would be a breeze to clean and turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Often, big messes are the result of getting in over your head, like the day an impromptu and disheartening check behind the stove turned a light oven cleaning into a major production that took all afternoon to finish.
Recognize the difference between regular maintenance chores and more in-depth but less frequent cleaning projects. Plan accordingly. It's important to dust ceiling fixtures and occasionally open them up to remove dead moths or spider webs inside. Dusting may take a couple of minutes, though, while a complete fixture overhaul could require a ladder, a screwdriver to remove the shade and even someone to help hold the shade steady while you screw it back in place. If you tackle more than you initially planned for a cleaning session, you may come away looking like you've been attacked by a mob of dust bunnies without ever getting the job done to your satisfaction. Make out a cleaning schedule of both light- and heavy-duty chores. That way you'll always be prepared for today's tasks and feel less guilty about postponing a big job for next time.