How To Keep A Clean House & Free Yourself From The Chains Of Drudgery
Keeping a spotlessly clean house isn't as difficult as it looks. How to do it has been the best kept secret of Susie Homemaker for years.
How to keep a clean house and free yourself from the chains of drudgery will give you the know how, skills and confidence to achieve a spotlessly clean house and a clear conscience.
Even in our modern day with both partners working women get the lions share of the work as well as the guilt. Women spend about 3 hours a day doing house work compared to an hour and a half for men. Two out of five men don't do laundry while only one out of twelve women don't do laundry. Society demands that homes be clean, tidy and organized and yet economics requires women to work out side of the home. The old stereotypes persist and women get stuck, emotionally and physically, with all the work. Yet if anyone is working 3 hours a day on housework they're doing it wrong.
The Four Unbreakable Rules
Never, ever, break these rules!
1. Everything has a home.
2. Use it or lose it.
3. Never ignore or pass anything that needs to find it's home.
4. Use "little minutes" every chance you get.
Time to talk
You will have to have a talk with your better half and let him know what you are trying to accomplish. He will have to be a part of it and support you in this. He'll have to pitch in as well. Let him know that this system will be easy to follow with clear direction and will result in a very satisfying feeling. It will make you happy and his goal should be to help you be happy.
I'm so buried I can't find the shovel to dig my way out!
A messy house has emotional and physical costs. It makes you feel tired, hopeless, out of control, depressed, frustrated and over stressed. It can lead to resentment and loss of self-esteem. If you can't find something, over and over, you can't relax because you worry about all the things you need to do. It can lower your immunity and resistance to illness. It's an energy drain and a time drain. Clutter eats up your time. Everything needs taking care of; even if you're finding it impossible to take care of it all you still know it needs taken care of. If you have 50 cups you need to take care of 50 cups. If you have 20 cups you only need to take care of 20 cups. By cutting the amount of things you have you can cut the time you need to take care of them, and worry about it, by more than half.
But, have hope! All is not lost. All you need is a plan. Stop beating yourself up, sit down, take a deep breath, and read on.
How to get started when it all feels so hopeless.
Don't start with a shovel. Start with a spoon. Or actually three boxes and one corner.
Now you can do one small corner can't you? Of course you can!
A good place to start is the living room and a good corner to start at is one of your two end tables.
Grab three boxes and label them with a marker or crayon. You'll find the crayons over in the sock drawer. How they got there no one knows. If they're not there try the silverware drawer. But if you can't find one within 3 minutes give it up and go buy one. You'll be able to find anything you need once you're done with your plan.
Now label them:
box 1 - Keep
box 2 - Toss
box 3 - Donate
For heaven's sake, don't get all boggled down with what box to use or delay because you haven't collected the boxes yet. Any containers will work. Laundry baskets, plastic bags, anything. It doesn't have to be perfect or done exact. If you think it does then you're a perfectionist and that very fact is holding you back. More on personality types later.
Take your three boxes to one corner of your house. Start picking things up and placing them in the correct boxes. Garbage goes in the TOSS box, things you don't want but wish to give away put in the DONATE box and things that need to go somewhere else in the house in the KEEP box.
You don't have to think much on this. Don't make any big decisions. Just toss things into the different boxes as fast as you can toss.
Work for 15 minutes then stop.
I said STOP! Do not work for more than 15 minutes.
Trust me on this one
Now take the garbage stuff to the garbage immediately and put the donate box in the trunk of your car so you can drop the items off at the Goodwill box today. Don't delay doing this or your trunk will fill up and be another clutter place. Take all the things that belong somewhere else to where ever they belong. Don't worry about where to put them. Just toss them. You'll get to that room later.
Stand back and look at your clean corner. Wow! You did it! This one small corner is where it will all start. Not only will the cleanliness start here but so will your habits and it's those habits that will help you keep control of your housework.
Now refer to the FOUR UNBREAKABLE RULES above and do not put anything in that corner that does not belong in that corner. If you walk past it and something is there that doesn't belong, move it. Use little minutes to dust it and keep it tidy. Never mess up what you've cleaned up. You've won the battle in one corner and soon you'll win the entire war!
Make the FOUR UNBREAKABLE RULES your habits. Say them over and over as you do them. When you pick up a toy and move it to where it belongs say to yourself "Everything has a home". When you pick up a magazine someone put on the end table say "Use it or lose it" and toss it away. When you're waiting for the coffee to drip grab a dust rag and head to your corner saying "Use little minutes". After a while you won't think it, you'll just do it.
Great items to help you get organized.
The Most Popular Purchase
The list above is random and pulled by Amazon and they're all great products but week after week, month after month "Organizing from the Inside Out" has been the most sought after and popular book.
Every Day Cleaning & Deep Cleaning
Now you're feeling pretty good about getting something done. It's not a very big win but it's a win. You can't win the war in just one battle. No one can. But you can, and will, if you build your win's one by one.
But now isn't the time to rest. Now you need two lists. The first list are things that need to be done every day just to keep things tidy. This includes washing dishes, picking up the stray jackets and papers, and taking the glasses back to the kitchen. The second list goes room by room and details all the small things that need to be cleaned to really clean the room.
Your first list will look a lot like this:
Wash off dinner table
Wipe stove and counter
Pick up & put away
Wipe bathroom sink & mirror.
Your second list will look a lot like this:
Clean out cupboard
Wipe off cupboard doors
Clean stove hood
Clean out refrigerator.
Wipe down walls
Wipe off light switches
Broom out cob webs
Wipe off mop boards
Dust & wash pictures
Clear out end tables
Dust & wash end tables & coffee table
Throw out newspapers & magazines
Wipe out cobwebs
Dust ceiling fan
Wipe off mop boards
And so on for every room in your house. Make sure you don't forget anything no mater how small. Everyone's house is different so your individual items may be just a little different.
Work an hour a day
That's all. Just an hour. And even that amount of time may shorten depending on how many people you have in your house. If you have a raft of kids there's not much anyone can do. They're messy and you will need the full hour just to keep even. But they'll grow up eventually and your nest, empty as it may be, will be spotless from the system you've followed.
Do you still have that paper? Are you ready to put it all together?
You have just one more thing left to do. - Your Wish List.
These are the goals you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to paint the front room, get those household papers organized, clean out that back closet or get chairs that match your dining table. Maybe you even want to start that exercising you've been saying you've got to start someday. Whatever your goals are make a list of them.
As the saying goes: "Fail to plan, Plan to fail". You need to decide when and how you will accomplish not only your cleaning goals but also your wish list goals. That's the next step.
Now you have a corner cleaned out. You've advanced. You have your list of every day cleaning and deep cleaning. You have your Unbreakable Rules and now you have a list of things you wish you could do.
Now is the time to plan.
Every day cleaning takes the longest. Select 1/2 hour a day to do everything on your Every Day Cleaning list. I know, you do these things anyway so why put them on a list? For one thing crossing a line off a list lets you know you are accomplishing something. For another, your not in this alone. The lists will help your other family members with the cleaning and they won't clean something that you've cleaned if you've crossed it off.
You also don't actually need to have a solid half hour. Remember Unbreakable Rule #4? Do your half hour Daily Cleaning in the little minutes of the day. Stack the dishwasher in the morning, Clean the toilet during lunch break, wipe down the mirrors right after your shower. You can actually accomplish this Every Day Cleaning without setting time aside for it.
Schedule one room per day for the Deep Cleaning. Your schedule might look like this:
If you have more rooms than I've listed go into the next week and have a two week rotating schedule. You can keep a house clean, no matter how many people you have, by following your Deep Cleaning schedule to hit each room just twice a month. Really, you can.
Make a lot of copies of your lists. These will be used one list for one time per month.
Don't schedule the weekend. That's play time, family time, hobby time, just plain goofing off time or accomplishing goals time.
Work just 15 minutes on the Deep Cleaning. Fifteen minutes and no more! You won't get everything on the list done. You don't have to get everything on the list done. Anything you missed you can do the next time the room comes up on the schedule. Don't re-clean something that you've cleaned a week ago. The goal is to get the things on the list done for each room within a months time.
Your Deep Cleaning will get things clean that are often missed and your daily cleaning will keep the house "picked up". Following the Unbreakable Rules will keep your house spotless at all times.
Do Not work more than the scheduled time!
When you've reached the allotted time - Stop!
That doesn't add up!
Even I can see that 1/2 hour of Daily Cleaning and 15 minutes of Deep Cleaning doesn't add up to an hour.
You still have 15 minutes left over.
This is for your goals. Well, for the ones that don't require continuous hours to accomplish. Cleaning out that back closet is a good example. The extra 15 minutes in your cleaning schedule is the time to schedule your goals that can be done a little at a time. The back closet can be done by working on it only 15 minutes a day. Maybe you want to get that exercising in or organize your paperwork.
If none of your major goals will fit in 15 minutes a day do some of the smaller goals. Read that book you've been wanting to read. Sort out your recipes, knit that sweater or sort through those old photographs.
What about the major goals?
Well, you've just freed up your entire weekends and most of your evenings!
Remember! Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.
Look at your list of goals and decide what you want to accomplish first then schedule when you want to do them. Write it on the calendar or on your lists. Many of them can be done in that extra 15 minutes. Most might have to be done on the weekend or your days off. Painting the front room can't be done 15 minutes at a time but organizing your household papers can.
Your Personality Affects Your House.
You need to know yourself well enough to know your weaknesses to over come them. Most of us are a bit of many of these personality types. I know I am. And I know that my best time is in the morning. I can't do anything after, say, 10 a.m. so I do my work while the coffees making in the morning. I'm also a perfectionist and I have to be careful not to get too picky. I'm also a bit of an Independent and get upset when someone comes along and puts dishes in the wrong order. I want things my way. Knowing this I've lossened up a bit and decided "put away" really is "put away" even if it's not the way I'd have it done. I've chilled out a bit and kept my eyes focused on the end result more.
Here are some personality types and a few suggestions:
The Administrator is a systematic team player. You will love these lists and their ability to be used by everyone in your family. One problem you may have is you want to get it all done at once. Slow down and realize that it will be done as you work a bit at a time.
The Creative person will balk at the lists and think they're boring. Or you might get bogged down with making them decorative and pretty. Be careful of wasting time doing things to nicely. Get it organized, get it clean then get creative.
The Impulsive person REALLY needs this list and schedule! You are fun and full of energy and love to do things on the spur of the moment. This schedule will actually free up more of your time to do just that. Just be sure to keep your nose to the grinder 1 hour a day and follow the schedule you've created. Add some music to the cleaning and dance. Make your work fun.
The Independent person needs to focus a bit on organizing with other members of your family. If you think the pots and pans should be in one area and others think they should go somewhere else you'll run into conflicts. You also need to remember to share the work and share the responsibilities.
The Insightful person is driven by their mood. If your not in the mood to clean you'll find it very difficult to follow the schedule. Remind yourself that it's just an hour a day and reward yourself for your accomplishments. Just thinking about your reward might bring your spirits up.
The Perfectionist is my personal favorite. You'll spend a lot of time making sure the Nick-Knacks are just right on the shelf but ignore the dust. Be very careful of trying to do things "To Right" when you charge through your schedule. Use those last 15 minutes to satisfy your perfectionist nature but don't be too picky when you're doing the cleaning its self. Do it quick. Don't worry. If you miss something you'll catch it next time. Really, you will.
The Procrastinators. Well. What can I say about the procrastinators? There are a lot of reasons people procrastinate. They might even be perfectionists who don't want to start because they're sure there's not enough time to do it right. Or maybe impulsive people who have better things to do. In any case, if your a procrastinator you'll find the schedule you've created to be invaluable. If you find yourself procrastinating put up signs at the most obvious places in your house, like your computer. You just need three simple words "JUST DO IT" on your sign.
Result-Oriented people are made for these schedules! Crossing off the items one by one is perfect! Just make sure you don't go over the time. The goal isn't to do everything at once.
Social people are, well, social. They're a bit of a cross between the creative and the impulsive. If your a social person you might be distracted easily. Remember to turn off your cell phone during your cleaning hour!
And finally, the Undisciplined person is bored by details and can't seem to stay on track. Hopefully, if your an undisciplined type, you've been able to make it through the list making phase of your schedule. You need to rein yourself in with accountability. Plan a party for when you've finished 1 month of your schedule.
For all personalities: We need to remember that we are not 'cleaning', we are preparing. We didn't clean the bathroom. We prepared it for a nice feeling every time we need to go in. Who likes a dirty bathroom? We are freeing our time up, and clearing our conscious of negative feelings and wasted efforts. We need to change the way we see cleaning. It's not a job. It is something we do to accomplish our goal. Keep the goal in mind, envision the end result and the rest will come easy.
We will be working less and doing more.
Your Personality and How to Work With Yourself to Get Things Done.
Understanding yourself is key to being able work with yourself to achieve your goals. It's not essential that you become a psych major or expert on yourself. Following the suggestions in this article without detailed self study will still result in a cleaner house but knowing yourself can give you a "heads up" on areas that will require more effort. Sometimes knowing yourself will let you out smart yourself. These books may help you not only understand yourself but others as well.
A little Organization Goes A Long Way.
Now you have your cleaning schedule and you're doing well with it. Good for you! You've freed up much of your time. You don't have to concentrate so much on everyday tasks and you have a lot more energy left. Now you might want to free up even more of your time.
It's time to organize!
Organize your paperwork, your file system, your meals and even your food shopping to free up much more of your time.
It might seem silly to create a two week menu and shopping list. Who does that any more? But the more you can ease your "to do" list and relieve your mind of things you have to remember the less stress you'll have. And think of this. If you had a two week menu planned and a shopping list ready made anyone can go to the store to pick up what you need for the next two weeks. Just grab the card and drop it in your purse or slip it into your husbands wallet. You'll have everything you need to make dinner. You don't even have to think of what to have or go through that "What do you want for dinner?" "Oh, I don't know. What do you want?" "I don't know. I asked you first". If you make three 2-week menus you'll rotate through enough dinners that it won't be boring and you'll never be out of something that you need.
I hope this article helped free you from the Chains of Drudgery and gave you some useful tips to free your life from clutter and/or others expectations and reach your goals. Is there anything you'd like to see added or have you a little trick that's worked for you or a problem that you've solved?