(Here is Part 1 and Part 2. I'm not Dr. Seuss so I didn't call it Thing 1 and Thing 2.)
"When you hear the chimes ring, like this (insert cheesy chime noise), turn the page! Let's begin now... Once upon a time in a far away land..."
After reading More Hours In My Day by Emilie Barnes (see Part 2), I decided that my best approach would be to make lists. I thought about what my overall goal was: to maintain a (relatively) clean house (most of the time).
Side note: I say "relatively" and "most of the time" because I am not a neat freak. Nor am I a spic & span person. Or somebody who's entire world crashes down on them if a piece of dust hits the floor, or the trash can stays full for a day. I know people that I walk into their house and think "this house is clean" and 5 minutes later they're telling me that it resembles the Wreck of Hespers and they just must get it cleaned up before they have to be admitted to the loony bin because they can't stand it. Basically, it doesn't bother me if something isn't perfect.
So, I established what I wanted the end result to be. I knew that I wanted the house to be clean enough that we could invite people over at the drop of a hat, or just spend a couple minutes of quick cleaning and it would be fresh as a daisy. My next step was to figure out a way that I could maintain that. So I made a couple lists.
My first list was a weekly & daily list. Things that I need to do every week or day. Sweeping, washing, laundry, dishes, dusting, picking up, etc.
Then I made a monthly list. Things that it really wouldn't hurt to do on a monthly basis. Clean out the car, dust the ceiling fans, sweep under the furniture, empty the dryer lent catcher - JUST KIDDING!!
And I don't think I ever made a yearly list, but I wouldn't be surprised if I wouldn't come up with one sometime. It could be things like washing windows (I do this randomly throughout the year), polishing the hardwood floors (haven't done this since they are still new), cleaning the oven (I cheat and use a piece of foil), re-organizing your closet, wiping out your kitchen cupboards, polishing Aunt Maude's silver tea set that you inherited, mailing Christmas cards, fertilizing the lawn, blah blah blah.
After I made all those lists, I went back to the weekly & daily list and started to break it down. I broke the house down 1 room at a time, and picked which day I wanted to focus on that room. Now, our house doesn't have many rooms. I know that when we get a bigger house, I'll have to kinda combine some places maybe, but since I already have a system I don't expect it to be a big deal - the main part of the house will still be the kitchen, dining room and living room.
I took each room and listed what all needed to happen in order for it to stay clean. For example: The Living Room. We live in ours. It is not unusual for the floor to get cluttered throughout the week. So I have "Pick up the Living Room" listed to happen a couple times a week. This isn't The Time to clean the living room, just take the stuff that is out of place and put it where it belongs.
For our laundry, I listed each load that I need to do.
~Daniel has 2 loads: darks, lights
~I have 2 loads: darks, lights (I don't wash ours together because his have a tendency to be pretty dirty.)
~I combine our "Sunday clothes": darks, lights
~And the sheets, towels, etc.
That is a total of 7 loads. I did not want to do ALL the laundry ALL in one day, but neither did I want to do a load EVERY day. So here's how I worked it out.
Monday - Daniel's darks
Tuesday - Daniel's lights
Wednesday - Sheets, towels, etc
Thursday - Miriam's darks, Miriam's lights
Friday - Sunday darks, Sunday lights
My loads of clothes are usually on the small side, so it's not a big deal to do 2 loads in 1 day and it still fit on the washline and be manageable when it comes to folding and putting away. I know that most of you have kids and thus generate alot more dirty laundry so 1 or 2 loads might not be enough for you, but I found it to be really really manageable and not nearly as overwhelming if I do a load or two a day. It's alot easier to muster up the gumption to fold it and put it away when it's not the whole weeks worth of Mount Washmore staring down at you. When I was working and wasn't home to do the laundry in the day, I would start the washer the night before, go to bed, wake up, put it in the dryer, and then fold it and put it away that evening. The especially neat thing about this system? I know that as long as we each have 7 pair of sock & undies (and Daniel has 6-7 pair of jeans), we're ok. When pair #7 starts to get too worn to wear, I go buy new ones to add to the pile so that I don't have to "wash on demand".
After making my lists, I needed a system to help me stay motivated, on track and doing the lists. I started out with a card file (like a recipe file). I had tabs for each day of the week, and had cards with the tasks on for each day (1 or 2 things per card, multiple cards). It worked for a while, but it wasn't visual progress enough for me. I needed something that I could look at the WHOLE DAY and see things crossed off. So I moved to this:
And I totally love, love, love it. "To know, know, kno-ow you is to love, love, lo-ove you, and I do, and I do and I do..." Sorry ;P I looked over several different styles and kinds of datebooks, but this is my all-time favorite one. It is 100% user friendly, it has enough space for me to write on each day without using minuscule handwriting, it's easy to read, and have I mentioned that I really like it?
It is made by PlanAhead, and is an 18-month planner (July of this year - December of next year). I usually get "next year's" when I start having things to write down for the next year - about September or so. I get it from WalMart, and I prefer the large size. They have a med. and small size, but they are too small for my needs. If you want to take yours with you, the smaller sizes might work better. This one is just basically for my daily to-do lists, menu planner, and I do put appointments on it. I really like the weekly layout, plenty of room for writing, and I don't have to flip pages to see what's going on.
At the beginning of each month they do have a "whole month" calendar, so if I know something is going on, I also put it there so I can flip and see the whole month all at once.
I will say that I don't always (rarely) stay on top of my "monthly" list. I need to work on that. I want to share with you my weekly list so that if you, too, are trying to "figure it out", maybe it will give you some ideas.
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Dishes (put away clean ones, wash dirty ones)
Counters & Table (put away any collected clutter, wipe off)
Hang out laundry/put in dryer
(at this point, if you need to do a 2nd load, start it - same for all the other days)
Sweep floors (hitting the high spots)
Wash Kitchen & Pantry/Laundry Room floors
(if you had a 2nd load, you'll have hung it out/dried it when the washer was done - same for all the other days)
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Counters & Table
Hang out laundry/put in dryer
Clean refrigerator (I set the timer for 15 minutes and do this. Over a couple weeks the whole frige gets cleaned.)
Pick up Living Room
Clean Bedroom (dusting, sweeping, etc)
Make grocery list (I do this on Tues since I go shopping on Wed)
Saturday & Sunday:
Empty Trash goes on one of those days, but I don't have a set day for it. I think I did at one point, but right now I add it to my list when I see things are starting to get full.
I know that most likely you won't be able to follow my daily plan exactly. Our houses are different, our schedules are different, our laundry needs are different. You may work 60 hours a week and go to school full time. You may be a homemaker with 5 kids running around in mud puddles all day. This is what works for me. At this stage in my life, when I get up early and get going and don't let things like blogs, email and facebook continually distract me :P, I can get all of these things done in good time and have time to relax and do other things. Before high-speed internet and blogs entered my life, I could usually have my whole list of things done by 1 or 2pm in the afternoon. I loved it :) And I know that it could still happen. That is another thing I like about having my list the way I want it - I could choose how "cram full" I wanted my days. AND since these things are done on a daily/weekly basis, you know what? If I don't get something done this week, it's not the end of the world and I'll just do it next week.
Back to the monthly and yearly lists, here's how I would do it, I think... I think I would simply look over the list at the beginning of each week or day, and decide if I should do one of those things at that time. Or if I'd gotten everything else done and still had time, I'd look at the list and see if any of those things should be done. Maybe I don't have time to wash ALL the windows, but I could get one or two done. Right now my eventual goal over the next few weeks is to get all the windows washed, doing them a couple at a time.
I hope that this mini-series has been helpful to you. And if you already have it all figured out, hopefully you enjoyed reading it, maybe even getting a few laughs out of it! I'd love to hear your questions or comments, so please feel free to question and comment away!