First, let me say my house is not perfectly spotless all of the time. However, I have found a system that allows me to have a house that is relatively clean most of the time without having to think about it very often.
One of my goals for 2019 was to learn simple habits that would allow me to spend less time cleaning, less time thinking about cleaning and more time with a clean house. By investing a little bit of time over the last couple of months, I’ve actually found a system that has worked.
Know what you’re working for.
- Cleaning can be never-ending, and if you don’t have a goal, it can often feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel. Knowing exactly what will make you feel satisfied will help you to accomplish it! Also, knowing what’s most important to you can help motivate you when you’re just not feeling it.
- Define what clean means to you. This will be different for everyone. For me, it was, managing clutter and dishes most days of the week and cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming weekly.
- Know your problem areas and make them a priority. For us, it’s our kitchen island and living room ottoman. These areas need almost daily attention.
Strategies that work (for us).
- Picking up. As a Christmas present to ourselves, we got a robotic vacuum. (Side note, it’s amazing). While I recognize this may not be an option for everyone, it’s not so much about not having to vacuum myself, as it is what has to happen to run the vacuum. The house has to stay picked up. And what we found was that keeping things picked up, keeps things picked up.
- Recognize how much time is really involved. For me, the hardest part is getting started, so I put things off. But once I start, I realize how long it’s not taking me. By recognizing it, the tasks don’t seem so overwhelming. I’ve found that on average, it takes me about 20 minutes to do the dishes. So when I start thinking I don’t have time for the dishes, I remind myself 20 minutes is not a lot, and I’ll be done before I know it.
- Similarly, Just do it. Instead of thinking about cleaning all day, if I just do it, then it’s done. This also applies to small things. At work, I keep the rule of “if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now”. I apply the same rule to housework. Put things back where they go when you’re done using them, take the dish to the kitchen when you’re finishing eating…you get the picture.
- The 5 minute nightly clean up. This is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. I would rather spend 5 – 10 minutes each day, rather than hours on the weekend, just picking up. But it hasn’t been a priority for me, so I kept forgetting. I finally started setting an alarm to remind me. And guess what? It’s so much less work.
- Make it convenient. This applies to both stuff and cleaning. I am a believer that all things should have a place. And this place should make it easy to access them, and easy to put them away. When it’s not convenient, you’ll never use the item, or when you do, it will take forever to put away because it’s just too much work. Same goes for cleaning supplies. If they are hard to get to, it makes the process that much more difficult. I like to keep all my cleaners, sponges, etc. in a caddy that I carry from room to room, so I have everything in one place. You may prefer to keep them in relevant locations (i.e. bathroom cleaners in the bathroom). What doesn’t work is having to run around, finding a cleaning supply while you’re already in the middle of cleaning.
- Schedule it. I am a planner, but for some reason could never bring myself to schedule cleaning. So I finally made a list of what I wanted to accomplish weekly, biweekly, and monthly. Just the act of writing it down has relieved a lot of associated stress.
A few last thoughts…
It doesn’t have to be perfect. Didn’t get the dishes done last night? Don’t beat yourself up. Just like anything else, just try again today.
My systems are my systems. The important thing is to figure out what works for you! What has helped you maintain a clean home?