Ever spend hours on the internet looking at beautiful clean houses wondering how in the world they achieve such a clean house and still have time for other things? Of course, you could pay for a cleaning service but let’s get real, who has money for that or who wants to put their hard-earned money towards that? What if I were to tell you, you can have that clean house and save that housekeeper money for a trip. Better yet, I am going to tell you how to have that clean house while spending the least amount of time possible doing so. After you finish this process, you will achieve that clean house by fitting your individualized chores into your individualized cleaning schedule and to-do lists effortlessly. This allows you to save those 4 hours on Saturday for fun and use all of those wasted 5-15 minutes of time during each day for chores.
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What are the biggest flaws in most cleaning schedules or to-do lists?
I tried to follow cleaning to-do lists and schedules, but I found that I was still wasting time with planning, spending way too much time cleaning, and never really improving the cleanliness of my house. The reason all these fail is due to three major flaws:
- Most cleaning to-do lists don’t always fit your level of cleanliness, your house size, your family size or just simply put your needs.
- You have to keep track of how often you did every chore to ensure you stay on top of cleaning, so you don’t leave it all for one day.
- Cleaning to-do lists aren’t integrated into your personal schedule at optimal efficiency.
I am a big fan of optimization and everything you find in our work smart section is dedicated to removing wasted time in your day, so you can spend it as you wish: saving money, making money and creating more memories with your loved ones. So, I have done the same thing here with cleaning.
How to Improve your Cleaning Schedule?
Step 1: Pick what chores you want to include and categorize your chores
Chores should be done either daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally. This is your first goal. You need to decide for your house what chores must be done and how often. We can’t start to optimize unless we know what you need to accomplish and when you need to accomplish it by. Below you will find typical examples of chores categorized by frequency to get your wheels rolling.
You can of course use the lists below, but I recommend you make your own with the downloadable worksheet packet, which is available when you subscribe. In your worksheet packet, you will find lists for you to categorize chores in your house based into times: daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally. If a chore doesn’t fit your needs, don’t include it. If you need to add a chore or simply move one from one frequency to another, do it.
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The Daily Chores
There are chores that must be part of your cleaning schedule every day. Some typical examples include:
- Make beds
- Wash dishes
- Deal with the mail
- Vacuum/sweep high-traffic areas
- Clean kitchen counter tops and stove top
- Clean up spills, dirt and other messes
- Put things in their place
- Take out the trash and recycling
- Clean bathroom sinks and counters
The Weekly Chores
There are chores that are best when done weekly. Some typical examples include:
- Do laundry
- Wash bedding
- Wash towels
- Vacuum or sweep all floors
- Mop and dust hard floor surfaces
- Dust all surfaces
- Thoroughly clean bathrooms
- Quick clean and reorganization of refrigerator and freezer
- Wipe kitchen cabinets and appliances
The Monthly Chores
These chores happen only once a month but are important to keeping that clean house. Some typical examples include:
- Clean furniture
- Wash mattress covers, pillow covers, duvets
- Clean inside of your oven
- Wipe down baseboards, moldings, and doors
- Wash ceiling light fixtures
- Wipe fan blades
- Clean inside the dishwasher
- Set oven to self-clean and/or clean inside
- Dust, vacuum or wash window coverings
- Wipe/dust light switches and door handles
The Seasonal Chores
These are the chores that are often forgotten but can make a big difference. Some typical examples include:
- Clean out closets and dressers
- Vacuum window screens
- Wash windows inside and out
- Deep clean the fridge, freezer and pantry
- Rent a carpet cleaner and clean your rugs
- Clean under the furniture
- Vacuum and clean out vents
- Wash all pillows
- Clean wood furniture
- Clean garage
Step 2: What to do with the daily chore list?
The list of daily chores you made should reflect what chores you already accomplish every day, or want to accomplish every day. These are usually routine and therefore aren’t usually included in your to-do list. I don’t include them in my master calendar for that reason. It would be a waste to write it down on every day if they are always the same.
Instead, the best way to ensure these chores get done in the most efficient manner is to optimize your morning, day and evening routines. In the worksheet packet, I have left space for you to create your routines. If after this you want to further optimize your morning and evening routines, read about creating routines that save time and accomplish more.
Step 3: Put weekly and monthly chores into a master calendar
Now we know what you need to accomplish and how often. The next step is key. Start with a blank calendar, such as the one I provide in our worksheet packet. We don’t want to make master calendars with specific dates because it should be timeless and be used again and again every month. Instead we want to make a master calendar that has been optimized and individualized by you that you will refer to when making daily to-do lists.
When building this master calendar to keep the rotation of jobs organized, take into consideration:
- Having clean clothing for the week
- Try to group chores so you aren’t running all over the house.
- Do your quick clean of fridge and freezer on the same day you make your grocery list so they can be accomplished together.
- Pick the type of laundry to match a second chore:
- Wash bedding on the same day you vacuum bedrooms so that you can either strip or make the beds and vacuum.
- Wash pillow covers, and duvet covers once a month on the same day of the week that you wash bedding, so you are only stripping beds once.
- Put all monthly chores that require you to really travel all over the house on the same day you do laundry. Therefore, you travel to each room once and complete all tasks.
Step 4: What to do with your seasonal list?
Depending on the length of your seasonal list, you can determine how often you need to accomplish an item off this list. For example, if you have 12 or less, then in the monthly calendar you created above, simply pick a day and put “pick a seasonal chore”. If you have more than 12 seasonal chores, but less than 24, pick two days and know you can opt out of doing the chore sometimes because you won’t need all 24 days that year to accomplish the chores.
When making your to-do list for that day, you can simply pick a chore that fits. If you get to a day that isn’t great for completing that chore, no problem, just schedule it for further in the week. The important part is that because you scheduled “pick a seasonal chore” as often as you need in your master calendar, you can use them as reminders and won’t forget to also keep up with these seasonal chores as well.
Step 5: Making your effortless daily to-do list:
Now that you have done the hard work of creating a cleaning schedule, it is time to reap the rewards. In the packet, you will find a few templates for daily to-do lists. Pick the organization style that best matches you. Now when you make your daily to-do list either last thing at night or first thing in the morning, all you need to do is refer to your master calendar to find out what’s on the agenda for that day. Simply open your binder where you have decided to store all of this material, find which day in your master calendar you are on, and add those items to your to-do list.
You won’t waste any time trying to decide which chores you need to do or even when. You have already created daily routines that allocate time for these chores. Remember you can also adjust your master calendar and routines if they aren’t working, simply change how often or when you do a chore until it fits you.
Don’t stop here
Now that you have organized your chores into a system that fits your household, you can start utilizing your time more effectively to free up more time for fun.
Where to go next? I highly recommend doing an organization inventory which expedite cleanings. Interested in making a master calendar for meal prep or maybe you want to really cut costs and time on making meals?
Want to accomplish more each day, assess how you spend your time to turn wasted time into productivity. Pairing master calendars with efficient morning and evening routines is an awesome way to amp up productivity.
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Dr. Trina Fitzpatrick is a wife, mom, blogger, and a breastfeeding advocate. She is the co-author of the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook. She attributes her success at breastfeeding her own children into toddlerhood with working with lactation consultants in the hospital in the early stages and on a weekly basis afterwards. By writing at MomSmartNotHard, she educates mamas-to-be on all things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Read more about Trina.