Ah, spring cleaning. You know that once you've done it, your house will smell fresh and clean, your winter woolens will be put away for a good long while (a celebration in and of itself) and you will know where most of the stuff you lost over the winter ended up. (Hint: probably behind the fridge or under the couch!)

But how to get the cleaning party started? It can be tough to find the motivation for what seems like the monumental task of tackling a major session of cleaning. You know what you want to do, you just don't know how to start. Hopefully this list will help get you going.

Give yourself the day: Try not to schedule anything else on your spring cleaning day. If you finish early, you'll be tired, so getting to bed early or relaxing while watching TV is totally fine. Chances are, you'll run late, and cancelling plans you thought you'd have time for will only stress you out. Plan on going overtime to finish the job — it's worth the extra couple of hours.

Eat a good breakfast: Cleaning actually burns tons of calories — and requires plenty of energy. Start your cleaning day off with a big bowl of oatmeal with walnuts, pecans or almonds, some yogurt and maple syrup. Or some eggs, toast and a smoothie. Whatever you do, make it a good combination of proteins and carbs. Keep some granola bars, tea/coffee and fresh fruit for a snack when you need it ... and you will need it.

Have your tools ready to go: The vacuum cleaner bag should be empty, the spray cleaner should be full and the rags should be clean. Get all your cleaning implements out before you begin so what you need is easily accessible.

Keep your eye on the prize: Whether you need motivation to start or just to move into the next room (or, eeeek, the garage!), visualize how great your home will look — and smell — once you've completed your tasks. Keep your mind on the positive end result, not the irritating dust bunnies and left-behind socks.

Get family members involved: You should NOT be the only one to tackle such a significant task. Be sure to draft partners, kids, and anyone who enjoys hanging out in your house into the work effort. Seriously, your kids' friends are totally fair game — and both your kids and their friends will enjoy helping more if they have someone to chat with. If you have a recalcitrant partner who is lazy about helping and cleaning, make a list of very specific chores for that person to complete — things that don't require supervision.

Reward yourself: Plan on eating a great meal out, or order in from your very favorite to-go joint for an end-of-the-clean treat. Draw a bubble bath, schedule a massage, or take the next day after the clean to do something fun away from the house.

What's your favorite way to motivate yourself to spring clean?

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

How to psych yourself up for spring cleaning
Cleaning feels great when it's finished, but how do you motivate yourself to start?