Monday, January 19, 2015

Cleaning Routine: Schedule & Planning

One of the reasons I feel overwhelmed and out of time on the weekends is because I don’t get much done at home during the week.  After working all day, driving an hour (total) commute, cooking dinner, cleaning up, etc., there’s not much time for anything else, which means that all of those things that don’t get done during the week have to be crammed in to the weekend.  And of course there are plenty of things that get added to my weekend list: errands, cleaning, church, blog writing, relaxing, prepping for the upcoming week, and anything I might want to do with friends or family.  It’s a lot to manage in a two-day time frame, especially because, inevitably, I never get to it all.

Some things have to happen, while other things are just items that I would like to do.  More often than not, I end up rescheduling something or other.  Typically, one of those somethings is cleaning.  I end up doing a half-assed quick-clean job or neglecting it altogether.  True, the house will not fall down if I don’t clean it every week.  People will tell me not to worry about it, that it will still be dirty next week. I started to get in the habit of listening to this advice.  But what would end up happening is that I’d put it off for a few weeks until it became absolutely necessary for me to deal with it.  Then, I’d spend an entire day cleaning the entire house to eliminate what I had neglected for so long.  So the truth is, not only will the house still be dirty next week, but it will be dirtier, which results in more work for me.  This does not help me.

I came to the conclusion that I need to break down my cleaning chores.  So I got to work thinking about what areas I clean and what type of cleaning I do.  Now, to set the scene, we live in a small(ish) townhome.  We don’t have kids, and we don’t have dogs.  We do have a cat, but he’s an indoor cat, so he is very low maintenance as far as cleaning up after him goes (his temperament, on the other hand, is high maintenance, but that’s another story for another day).  Our downstairs consists of a little entryway where we have our bookshelves, a half-bath, a laundry alcove (though closet is more accurate), and one big room that is our kitchen and living room.  (There is no dining room, though we do have a small table in the corner that could be considered our dining nook.)  Upstairs we have two bedrooms (the master and a guest room that is also the office) and a full bath.  That’s it.  There aren’t a lot of rooms to clean, but when you factor in everything that needs to be done in each room and moving furniture to do some of those tasks, it can take a while.  And I was tired of spending an entire day cleaning the entire house every few weeks.

So, here is my breakdown.


You will see that dusting surfaces and items is on here twice.  That’s because this is something I do every other week.  I tend to have an allergic reaction (non-stop running nose and sneezing or mild asthma symptoms) if there is too much dust coming at me.  So to help alleviate this, I decided to dust flat surfaces and items more often than I used to.  Vacuuming gets done every week.  Dusting ceilings and doors and mopping gets done every few weeks, which results in about once a month (more or less depending on how the month falls), though I will deal with dirty spots on the fly as needed.

Each week I move the transparent sticky to the next item.  This allows me to know what I did last week, what I need to do this week, and what is on the schedule for next week.  Once I’ve crossed off this week’s item on my daily sheet, I write in next week’s item on that daily sheet.


On the list above, you will also see items listed under “Big Clean.”  These are things that happen before having company over.  So, say we’re hosting Christmas Eve dinner.  These are the cleaning tasks that should be done prior to the event.  Now, if I had just dusted the surfaces and items on those surfaces a few days prior, I might not do that.  But if it’s something that hasn’t been done in a week or so, it needs to happen.

You will notice that some items don’t appear on this list at all, like cleaning the bathrooms.  My husband does this task (isn’t he a great guy?), so it doesn’t go on my list.  However, I will do touch-up cleaning as I go through my week and/or weekend.  It’s kind of an automatic thing, so I don’t write it down. 

The same goes for cleaning the kitchen counters, sink, stove, and refrigerator.  I clean out the fridge every week after I buy groceries.  I throw out old food and wipe down the shelves inside as I put new items in.  Then I move on to the countertops and stovetop wiping down the surfaces and items that live on those surfaces.  Of course, the counters and stoves also get cleaned after cooking and prepping food, but the weekly cleaning is an event where things are really cleaned by moving items so that the surfaces underneath are cleaned, too.

Windows are a separate event as well.  When the weather changes, we change out the outside front door (screen to storm door and vice versa).  It is at this time that we clean the windows and blinds as well.  Again, if they need to be cleaned in between, we will do it.  But this is our generic schedule.

When spring comes around, we haul our back patio furniture from the garage, which will be tidied at the same time.  (We use the garage for storage, not for housing our cars.)  This year, however, I’m hoping to do a big overhaul of the garage, which will be documented here, if we do it.

Finally, the laundry.  This is the only thing I routinely do during the week.  I do one load a night.  I can’t stand the thought of doing laundry all day long during my weekends.  Moreover, I can’t stand the thought of dirty clothes piling up in the corner of my bedroom throughout the week.  So each night I get things in the washer, put them in the dryer, fold the clothes, and put them away each night. 

Our hamper is one of those three-compartment types.


Items are separated by color: whites, darks, and colors.  Towels are separated this way, too, and are kept in the same compartments, but the are washed separately because otherwise clothes end up with those little towel fuzzies on them, which I then have to spend time picking off.  Doing towels separately might make more loads of laundry than I would otherwise have, but it saves me time in the end.  It also allows me a couple of evenings for laundry sitting.  By this I mean, I can allow clean towels to sit in the dryer once they’re done without the stress of needing to take them out right away and fold them to avoid wrinkling.  So, on the nights I have yoga or need to be somewhere, I’ll do towels because I know I can let them sit clean in the dryer or basket until I have time to fold them without worrying about extra ironing.

Which brings me to ironing…this I do once a week.  While folding laundry, I will put aside anything that needs to be ironed (mainly work items).  I then hang it up in the guest room closet, and every Sunday evening, I take out everything in there and iron them all at once.  This saves me from having to haul out the ironing board and spend time ironing several times a week.

Laundry (as a task) doesn’t get written into my planner because it happens every day.  Ironing does, however, because those items are stored out of my sight, and if it’s not written down, I will forget to do it, leaving me with slim pickings for the week’s work outfits.

So there you have it: my cleaning routine broken down into smaller tasks and scheduled accordingly.  I have been doing this for a few months now, and it’s working out well.  It saves me an entire day of cleaning.  My Saturday day can consist of errands and cleaning, allowing my Saturday evenings free for fun events and Sunday to consist of church, writing, and hopefully relaxing.  Doing certain cleaning tasks each week also allows me the flexibility to skip a week if absolutely needed.  So if I don’t get to the full-on clean one week, it’s not as big of a deal because I know it wasn’t too long ago that something was cleaned.  I feel better knowing that something was done instead of nothing.  And when it comes time to the “Big Clean,” usually something can be removed there, too, depending on when a task was last done, which saves me time—and stress—then as well.

14 comments:

  1. I set up a similar system last year, involving a daily checklist of cleaning chores which only took a few minutes each. I could get through the list in under half an hour, particularly if I did it every day. Then my work schedule changed and everything went off the rails. I am *still* struggling to get back on the wagon with this. Thankfully, J is MUCH cleaner than I am so the house stays reasonably clean whether I do it or not. The one thing I've gotten really routine about is dishes and making the bed; I do these consistently and they help a lot. It was a big leap for me, you would not believe how slovenly I used to live! I also do all the ironing on Sunday evening (some Sundays I do a marathon and then can skip the following Sunday).

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    1. I find that with big projects/tasks such as this, it makes my life much easier to break them down into chunks. I used to do everything in one go because "cleaning" was one task among many. But now that it's broken down, I don't have to stress as much or spend as much time doing them. My husband also makes the bed (though he never made his bed prior to us living together, so that was a big leap for him). He still has his piles but I try to contain them so that we're not tripping over things. Tidying has never been an issue for me; it's the cleaning because although I love a clean house, I hate the act of cleaning! So a smaller list to work with each week has so many benefits for me.

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  2. I cannot seem to get a handle on this, no matter what I do.

    Kristy
    aka Giftie Etcetera

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    1. I have to confess that I have it easy -- no kids and my husband helps out a lot. If he didn't and/or we end up having kids, y circumstances would change, I'm sure. But for now this works. I had to accept (and be okay with) the fact that I can't clean it all every weekend. So breaking my tasks down makes it more managable.

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  3. I clean house once a week whether it needs it or not. Through the week I pick up, load and unload the dishwasher, clean up the party beside my husband's chair. My husband doesn't clean, but he loves to run errands and he is amazing at laundry. I haven't done laundry regularly in over a year. We don't have any kids at home right now, just a cat and 2 pugs, plus the one that lives under the refrigerator:)

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    1. I wish I had the time to devote to cleaning everything each week. I tried so hard to accomplish that but it was just too much stress. This is a good compromise. Ha ha, my husband has a "chair pile" too. I ended up getting a bench at the end of the bed just for me so that I don't have to deal with his pile. I also gave give a tote bag to put that stuff in but he still leaves it on the floor. But the bag works for me -- when I need to move the stuff I just pile it in the bag.

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  4. I struggle with finding a balance. I really really hate getting up on Saturday morning and then cleaning all morning, so I try to do a little each day before and after work. I use an app so that I can set tasks to repeat once I have finished them. I have too many animals at the moment (5 -love them all!) so they generate a lot of cleaning that would not need done otherwise. I have a small house and although I would like more space sometimes I don't want to have to clean it! :) Dusting is really not my favorite thing to do so I break it up by room and make sure each room gets done every two weeks. Any tips on making dusting more enjoyable?? lol

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    1. Lol, I wish I had the secret answer to make dusting more fun! I thought about breaking up my cleaning by room, but if I am hauling out the vacuum every week, or the swiffer dusters every other week, it just seemed easier to break it up by task. Plus, living in a small house, it's not too big of a chore to do all one task for all rooms.

      Hmm, I'd love to hear more about this app. Let me know if you'd ever like to do a guest post on it. :)

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    2. Yes, it makes total sense to dust all the rooms at once but I see that on my list and I put it off, then I put it off again . . . see the problem? For some strange reason my brain can handle one room and I get it done.

      I would love to do a guest post on your blog! :)

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    3. Ah, yes. I've been there many times. Email me and we can discuss a possible guest post! :)

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  5. Oh cleaning! I LOVE cleaning, but I LOATHE tidying. Similar to your and cleaning, I appreciate tidiness. I love tidiness. I just can't seem to get everything tidied so it stays tidied forever!! Similar to Lisa, my husband runs a lot of errands, and he also does the cooking, which is a great help. However, I have three cats (and one sheds like he's trying to provide fur to make sweaters for the world), and I do not have a dishwasher. I dust with pledge and a rag every week, because (thanks to Mr. Shedder), if I use the Swiffer dusters, you can see the dust again by Monday. However, I do sometimes cheat and go two weeks without cleaning. But...like you, I noticed that it's not just that the house is still dirty, it's dirtier. Like, exponentially dirtier. Sigh. My work is never done!! I am working on the piles though, and I'm down to just two! ;)

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    1. See, I'm the opposite -- I love to tidy and organize but don't like to clean. I love having things clean, which is why I do it, but I don't look forward to it each it. Breaking it down though, reduces the amount of time I have to do it each week, even if I'm doing it more often. At least I'm not spending an entire weekend day cleaning. I would dust every week, too, if I could manage it. But there are only so many hours in the day.

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    2. That's how I got the piles in order (finally), by breaking it down. Moving two people's stuff together (plus the third household of "stuff" my mother in law used to insist on giving), it was entirely overwhelming. Thanks to shelves in the basement and clear sterlilte bins in the attic, it's much better. When I get overwhelmed by the other piles (not due to the size, but just by being disappointed in myself that they are there), I will tackle them. I remember when you bought the tote for your husband. I tried something like that too. But...I never went through it (out of sight, out of mind), and eventually stuff was put on top of and next to the bin. So, I then had three piles. Now, I have only two spots where "stuff" can go. If I could just dedicate a time to that, it wouldn't be bad. Unfortunately, the pile on the dining room table grows every day. I only have 2 hours between dinner and bed, so tidying is not an option during the week and on the weekend, cleaning and obligations get in the way. I don't know, I think you may need to come over to consult on this one. ;)

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    3. Lol, yes, I'd be happy to help! Please contact my secretary to arrange an appointment. ;)

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