Over the years I have received more than a few reader questions about cleaning, organizing, and decluttering. It seems that we all want to have a neat and orderly home, but not all of us know exactly how to get there. And let’s face it, life can get chaotic and busy with too much to do and not enough time to get it done.
Since these are areas that I constantly need to work on in my own home, I thought that this year it would be awesome to dedicate some more in-depth posts–and even a few series–to the true art of keeping house. I’m starting today with this post on how to create a cleaning schedule that works for you, which will be followed next month by an 8-week Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning series and then a second 8-week Beginner’s Guide to Organizing series. And then, in October, I am going to tackle a brand new 31 Days series—31 Days to a Clutter-Free Life, which will focus on ridding our lives of all that excess STUFF that holds us back!
Are you excited? I know I am!
So let’s get started!
First, for those of you who don’t even understand what a cleaning schedule is, let me break it down for you. A cleaning schedule is basically just a daily, weekly, or monthly plan for how you will clean your house. It can be as simple as one main task per day or as complex as a spreadsheet that accounts for every single housekeeping task that needs to be done over the course of a year. It really is up to you.
If the idea of creating any sort of cleaning schedule sounds overwhelming, try not to worry—I promise it is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, as you will see below, you can do it in three easy steps! The point of a schedule is not to make you feel guilty or to make you have more to do, but to actually relieve guilt and to create a routine that gives you more freedom and less stress. Knowing that you have a workable, manageable plan to tackle those sticky sinks and dusty dressers makes the idea of cleaning house seem a lot less overwhelming in the long run.
So bear with me. We can do this. I promise.
Step 1: Create a Master Task List
Before you can decide when to clean you must first know what to clean, and how often. Thus before you can create a cleaning schedule that works for your life and your schedule, you need to assess your own home and cleaning needs. A cleaning schedule for a childless couple living in a 1-bedroom apartment will look very different from a cleaning schedule for a homeschooling mom of five living in a 4-bedroom house!
You can start with the following master list and then customize it to fit your own home’s needs:
Step 2: Pick the Best Plan for YOU (Choose ONE)
The next thing you need to do is figure out what sort of cleaning plan will work best for your life and your schedule. Are you the kind of person who wants to do a little every day, or would you rather tackle it all at once so that you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week. Do you work full time or are you home during the day? Do you have young children at home or are your kids old enough to help shoulder some of the responsibility?
There is no one “right way” to keep house, and there is no universal cleaning schedule that will fit every household’s needs. Ultimately you have to take the time to determine what sort of schedule will be both realistic and doable for your own needs. While you should take the time to consider all of the following plans, please don’t think that you need to DO all of them. Instead, pick the ONE plan that seems like it will be the best fit and try it out for a while. If you hate it, you can always try something else!
Here is a rundown of the most common options:
Option A: Daily Speed Cleaning
If you are like me and have a hard time functioning when your house is messy, this may be the best option for you. I have personally found that running through my speed cleaning routine every day keeps things relatively neat and tidy all the time so that there isn’t usually a need to “deep” clean quite as often. When I am following this schedule I will spend about 60-75 minutes cleaning each day, between the daily tasks and doing 1 or 2 weekly tasks each day. I use the following printable daily and weekly checklists to help me stay on track.
Option B: Timed Sessions
This type of cleaning plan follows a master list of weekly tasks. You set aside a certain amount of time each day—ideally 45-90 minutes—to work your way down the list. When the timer is done, you stop, then pick up where you left off the previous day. The following worksheet can help you create your master list:
Option C: One Room or Major Task Each Day
This type of cleaning plan sets aside certain tasks to do on each day. For instance, cleaning the bathrooms on Monday, doing laundry on Tuesday, Vacuuming on Wednesday, etc. The time spent cleaning each day will vary based on the task set aside for that day. You can use the following worksheet to set up this plan:
Option D: Everything in One Day
This type of plan saves everything for one big long cleaning day each week. This can be a good option if you work during the week and would rather clean on the weekends, or if your kids are older and everyone will pitch in to get all the chores done fast. For this type of plan you can just pick two or three monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks to tackle each cleaning day.
One fun idea for families with older kids is to take a deck of cards and write down one task on each card. You can also use the printable set of cards below! On cleaning day the cards are shuffled and dealt, and each family member is responsible for completing the tasks on their cards, or for trading to get different tasks they’d rather do.
Step 3: Fill in Your Schedule
This is the easy step! Once you’ve determined what sort of cleaning plan will work best for your household, just use the handy printables in this post to fill in your cleaning schedule. Choose the corresponding printable to your plan above, then use the calendars below to schedule your cleaning days, as well as keep to keep track of the monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks that you need to remember. Or, if you prefer digital schedules, you can use other options such as Google Calendar, iCalendar for Mac, or even on online cleaning scheduler such as chorebuster.net.
Although it might seem overwhelming at first, creating a cleaning schedule that works for your own home and family life can be incredibly liberating. Suddenly instead of a big daunting mess in front of you, there is a workable plan to take care of it. What are you waiting for?
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What is your current cleaning schedule? What changes do you plan to make?
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