Wondering how to create a cleaning schedule that works without setting yourself up for failure? It’s a New Year’s Resolution that many of us make. I’m here to tell you it is possible, and it’s easier than you think.
Before we get started, though, if you’d prefer to follow an established, day by day plan to creating your own, grab a copy of my book 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House. After starting with a whole-house tidy to deliver immediate results, my book guides you through a daily plan to clean and organize your home room-by-room. As you progress through the program, each day includes a maintenance task, so your home stays clean, too. Follow the monthly plan at the end, and you’ll always have a tidy, uncluttered house.
But if following someone else’s schedule isn’t your style, here’s how to create a cleaning schedule that works for you.
How to Create a Cleaning Schedule
Around this time of year, we’re all looking for a fresh start, whether that involves learning to meal plan and eat clean or some other method of starting a virtuous cycle. Sometimes, in our eagerness to make changes, we rush headlong into new projects only to find ourselves burning out and giving up before the end of the month.
The real way to get started, at least with creating a cleaning schedule that works for you, is by spending time thinking and planning rather than just rushing in.
1. Set your own standard
Ask yourself why are you cleaning your house. I’m not talking about the need to deal with spills and messes. What I mean is that you need to know why you want your home to be clean: is it for you and your family, or is there some other standard you’re trying to meet?
In the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve received so many emails and comments from people incredibly stressed by the pursuit of perfection. You know the ideal I’m talking about: beds made every morning, not a speck of dust to be seen, every surface sparkling and tidy, day in and day out. One poor woman sent me a despairing message because she couldn’t leave perfectly parallel lines while vacuuming her living room as her mother-in-law does.
So, before you sit down to create a cleaning schedule that works, ask yourself whose standard you’re trying to meet: yours, or someone else’s? If perfectly straight vacuum lines don’t matter to you, if you don’t feel the need to have a home that’s continually ready for a magazine photoshoot, then don’t hold yourself to that kind of standard!
I sure don’t.
2. Decide which rooms matter most
Most of us have a place or two in the home we need to be clean so that we can relax and unwind. For me, that’s my formal living room and my kitchen, two places I spend the majority of my time when I’m not working. Maybe you prefer your bathroom to feel like a spa and your bedroom like a retreat. Someone else may need an orderly entryway when they come home and a clean TV room to unwind in.
The point is to pick a room or two where you’ll focus a little effort each and every day to keep it in tip-top shape, while the rest of your house gets just enough weekly attention to bring it up to your standards.
3. Evaluate your available time
We are all limited to 1440 minutes each day and need to spend at least some of them sleeping. To have a life you enjoy, you also need time to do enjoyable things, which means you shouldn’t plan to spend all of your non-working hours cleaning house.
Do you only have a half-hour each weekday but plenty of time on the weekends? You’ll want to create a schedule that allows you to deal with your two most important rooms in your available half-hour while scheduling the rest at the end of the week.
Got an hour or more daily? Give your two essential rooms attention, then work on the rest of your home from the next most important places to the least.
4. Pick your approach
Are you a task-based or room-based cleaner? Some people prefer the task-based approach, doing all of the dusting on one day, vacuuming the next, mopping floors on the third day, doing laundry the fourth, etc.
Others — and I am one of them — prefer cleaning one room at a time. For me, vacuuming a house makes no visible difference if every room is still cluttered. I much prefer doing a weekly cleaning in each room — and I use my weekly printable cleaning checklists to guide me through it.
Decide which approach works for you based on your standards and your available time.
5. Adopt some kind of daily routine
In addition to tidying your two most important rooms, there are other tasks which shouldn’t be put off for days on end. Doing the dishes, for example, or taking out the kitchen trash. Give some thought to the bare minimum of things you want to do daily to keep your home up to your standards.
As someone who works from home, I’ve got a bit more time than many do, so I use this Daily Cleaning Routine. Before you adopt it as your own, let me say this explicitly because sometimes people don’t read that whole article before jumping in:
My Daily Cleaning Routine will take a LOT of time the first few times you follow it.
IT WILL TAKE LESS TIME ONCE YOU MAKE IT A DAILY HABIT.
By “less time” I mean it’ll get down to 20 minutes per day — but only after you’ve done it a few times. I know this from my own experience as well as the hundreds of comments I get every time I share that routine on the Housewife How-Tos Facebook Page from people who’ve started following it, too.
The point is: determine what needs to be done daily to meet your standards and plan on doing that.
6. Set your schedule
If you’ve committed to getting your home in order as part of your New Year’s Resolutions, then make it official: add your cleaning schedule to your calendar. You can just note that Monday is the day you clean the bathroom or vacuum floors, or you can get specific and make an appointment with yourself. The point is to commit.
Since my personal schedule is a room-by-room approach, I’ve set up a recurring daily reminder on my iPhone to do the Daily Cleaning Routine and other weekly reminders for each room. I’m not a morning person, though, so I set my reminders for later in the day to keep myself from marking them as complete just to be rid of the popup notification.
7. Stick with it but be flexible
The hard and cold truth is that no one sticks to their schedule all of the time. Maybe one of your kids get sick, or maybe you do. Maybe there’s a busy week at work that leaves you too exhausted to clean at the end of the day. Maybe you just don’t feel like it one day and need to engage in some self-care instead.
Life happens — and that’s how it’s supposed to be!
If you were truly honest with yourself in the first step–deciding your own standard–then you need to understand that taking a day or week off here and there is part of your standard. Good for you! There is so much more to life than having a spotless home 24/7, and whatever schedule you create should allow for that.
Do your best to follow your schedule day in and day out, but if you need some time off then, by all means, permit yourself to take it. Live your life! Enjoy your family! Rest if you’re weary! Then, come back to Step One and get things going again when you’re ready.
Remember: there’s no First Prize for having the cleanest home. There’s no trophy, no award ceremony, and your name won’t be in the paper. Since it’s not a competition, stop pushing yourself to “win” because, really, the important thing here is that you simply try.
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