Cleaning the house and keeping on top of all the housework can be very overwhelming, and as a result I wanted to look today at how to create a cleaning schedule that can really (and easily) work for you – whatever your needs are.
I don’t know about you, but with me there always seems to be housework that needs to be done – no matter how organised you are.
Very seldom do you find a home that’s totally clean and tidy all the time (unless it’s not being lived in ;o) ), and this is just a fact of life.
What we can do is give ourselves a break from stressing about it, and accept that a home is always a work in progress!
Contrary to popular thought, a cleaning schedule doesn’t add hassle and stress to the house, feeling like it’s telling you what to do all the time – it can actually alleviate things, because with a schedule you can know when and how often things need cleaning – rather than always feeling guilty that something should be done but never being able to feel truly finished.
With a schedule you can know where you are at any given time, and also work out where you can save time and effort hopefully – which is always a bonus – but we’ll come onto that in a little while!
Get your cleaning schedule organised
Most of us are very reactive when it comes to cleaning – so when something looks like it needs doing, we do it and when it looks OK, we leave it.
This can work fine – if you really love to feel stressed when you are in your home!….
If you never quite know what the next job is, and whether the house is clean enough, then even subconsciously you are looking around at all the jobs that need doing (even when there may be nothing to do).
You end up in a constant state of not knowing what needs to be done, and that’s just draining – It’s time to get to grips with the house once and for all.
Spend a little time up front getting organised, and watch your housework become much more streamlined as a result.
Lets work through it together – grab a pen and paper and follow my method to create a cleaning schedule that will really work for you.
Step One – What needs to be done?
It sounds crazy, but have you ever actually written down all those jobs around the house that it demands?
If you don’t know what you are dealing with, then you will always feel slightly overwhelmed by it all, and always feel that you aren’t doing it well enough.
So, go around your home and for each room write down EVERYTHING that in an ideal world you would clean. Also write how often you would want to clean it ideally.
For now we are just brainstorming – so write down absolutely everything – as it can be sanity checked later on in the process.
Here’s an example for you:-
- Wipe all surfaces – Daily
- Empty the bin – Weekly
- Clean the bath and shower – Weekly
- Clean the toilet – twice a week
- Mop the floor – Weekly
- Change the towels – Weekly
- Descale the shower head – Monthly
- Declutter the bathroom cabinet – Annually
- Clean the bathroom cabinet – seasonally
At this stage its really important not to get overwhelmed, as it can look like too big a task to get all these jobs done (especially when the whole house is done in one long list), but its an important step in seeing exactly what needs to be done, and getting something in place to tackle it all.
So now you should have a clear idea of what needs doing, and how often.
Step Two – Group tasks by frequency
The next step is to group the jobs into how often they need to be done.
This will give you a much better idea of what you will need to do each day/week etc…..
For Example –
Daily Tasks :-
Wipe the Bathroom Surfaces, Wipe all of the Kitchen Surfaces, Empty Dishwasher, 1 load of Washing, General Tidy, Empty Kitchen Bin
2-3 Times a week Tasks :-
Hoover, Mop Kitchen Floor, Clean Toilets, Water plants, Errands
Empty Bins around the house, Polish, Ironing, Change Towels, Change Bedding,
Monthly Tasks :-
Clean windows inside and out, Wash and Hoover car, Main food shop, Menu Planning, Deep cleaning, Check smoke alarm
Seasonal Tasks :-
Change clothes to different seasons, declutter cupboards
Annual Tasks :-
Clean curtains, Clean carpets, Defrost Freezer, Update Filing
These are by no means finite lists, but hopefully give you an idea of the sort of tasks that would fit into each category. Please note that there is no right or wrong way, just what you are happy with with how often things are cleaned. Some people need to clean a lot more frequently than others, some have less people in their home so it needs less cleaning – everyones needs will be different, and your ideal timings for how often they are done may also be different as a result.
Whats key here is that you should now be able to look at your list and decide that if everything was done on it, to the timings that they are shown, your home would run smoothly, everything would be clean to your standards, and you would feel back in control of things again.
Step Three – What time do you have available?
Now we have looked at your ideal cleaning scenario, its time to get realistic and work out whats possible and what may need changing more so it fits in with the actual time you have available. (If things fit – great! – if not then you will have to do some more thinking about things – prioritise and maybe cut back a little….)
Firstly – take a look at your average weeks schedule.
If you haven’t already got a weekly plan then now may be a really good time to sketch one out – here’s a picture of mine for starters (available as part of the Diary File eBook if you prefer to use this going forward).
I have space for household jobs at the top (which is where I will put the jobs once we have worked out what to do and when), space for scheduled items (i.e. work/school/classes etc….), and space at the bottom for my meal plan. Its all in one easy to find space, and I can quickly glance and see where I have time free for other things.
It’s also worth mentioning here that I work on a 4 week monthly basis. There are just too many things that need doing less than once a week, that it’s pretty much impossible to write a general weekly plan without having lots of items clogging up the plan that actually only need to be done once a month so I found having a 4 week schedule was far easier to manage.
One of the main reasons that I turned to a 4 week schedule rather than a weekly schedule is that I find its the easiest way to look at your cleaning schedule and make it work best.
(another bonus is that of course most months have more than 4 weeks exactly – and so you end up with what I call extra days – where you can catch up if you’ve fallen behind, or use the days to do other things that you want to do – classing them as a bonus makes them feel like a sort of treat!).
So, when you have a general idea of your weekly schedule, then you can more easily see what days/times you have available to fit in your household chores.
You will no doubt find that some days you will be able to fit in more than others – that’s the way that most of our lives tend to go!
Lastly – this also needs doing for anyone else who has tasks to do around the house – i..e children, partner etc… – they will all have their own schedules and it’s really important that the jobs they are allocated are do-able within these constraints otherwise you will find things not working.
Step Four – How do you like to do things?
I wrote a post a while back about how cleaning can be done to suit your personality – and in it I talk about whether you like to do your chores little and often, blitz style, or delegate.
For any schedule to be effective, you need to work with your personality, as you want to be able to keep to the schedule and not fight against it all the time.
Schedules are meant to help, not aggravate!
So, with this in mind, decide on the best times of the week that you would prefer to do these chores.
The following is a quick idea of how I think when I do this exercise – see if it helps you to work out how you like to do things:-
Take a few minutes now to think about (and be realistic) what time you have available, and how you like to arrange your cleaning and household jobs to suit your way of living.
Step Five – Creating a Cleaning Schedule that works for you
Last by by no means least is putting everything together that you have done so far and filling into your schedule when you will do each of the tasks you have listed – so that everything gets done as often as you want, within the time you have available.
In your mind, work through your typical weekly schedule, and start to allocate the jobs from your list onto specific days (and times if you like). Work through each day and see which rooms/jobs would be easiest to achieve on each one.
Here are some tips to help:-
Dealing with the monthly/annual tasks:-
- Split your monthly tasks up into 3 roughly equal groups and your seasonal/annual ones into 12 equal groups (which works out as one per month of course).
- Look at allocating a specific month to each of your 12 Annual groups – and be time specific – i.e. defrosting the freezer and cleaning curtains would be easier in the summer months, and the winter months may be perfect for a massive declutter or to tackle the filing to ensure its up to date etc….
- So now you have 3 weekly groups and 12 annual groups. And a schedule of 4 weeks. This means its easy to allocate your weekly groups to a specific week each month, and you have 1 week left over to add in an annual group. Perfect!
- In this way you will keep on top of the less done jobs, and know that everything will be done over the year – so it takes away the need for worrying and/or blitz sessions
General scheduling tips:-
- If you find that you simply can’t fit everything in – start to prioritise. For example – Do you really need to hoover every day or would a quick hoover twice a week with a thorough hoover once a month (moving furniture etc…) actually be sufficient? You know what you will actually be able to do – and therefore work with that, then you are much more likely to be able to stick with the schedule.
- Think about delegating tasks that you want to complete but really have no time to do them in – pay for help, delegate more to others in the house etc…
- Don’t be too strict on when you do things – I used to write down time slots as well for my cleaning chores, but felt I worked better when I simply had a list of things to get through that day and fit them in around my scheduled stuff. I work better like this, so its worth understanding what works best for you and scheduling accordingly. You may find that having times to do things works better for you while you get used to everything, and then slowly you’ll start to know whats required on each day anyway.
- Add your schedule to your diary – I add mine at the front of my diary and then I can easily check on what my daily tasks are, and add them to my TO DO list for that specific day – that way nothing gets forgotten.
- Be realistic – some things may have to wait as life gets in the way – but when you have worked out what those things will be, its easier to carry them over to the next less busy day/week.
- Use your free days (those that fall outside the 4 weeks each month) to get more done, if you can see that next month you are going to be busy, why not get one of the monthly tasks done up front – thats the beauty of knowing whats next – you can get ahead!
Step Six – Live with your schedule
Once you have allocated your tasks to different days of the week/month – and feel that it works in theory, give yourself the next month to actually follow the plan.
When you start to see things working, or not working, and you see the actual time you have to spend to do things, and what time you really have available – then you can start to alter things as and when they become necessary.
This process will iron out any creases in the cleaning schedule you have created, and ensure that you have something that you can successfully use to keep on top of the house from now on – and what could be better than that!
I’d love to know how you get on, and if you have any scheduling tricks for your household chores, why not leave a comment below…