How To Streamline Your Household Cleaning

How to Streamline Your Household Cleaning

Cleaning the house is a necessary chore, but few people really love doing it. Still, like many chores, our perception of the hassle involved is often much worse than the reality. Here are some ways you can streamline the process of cleaning, make sure you have the tools on-hand when you need them, and never wonder what you should do next.

Photos by Maarten Takens, Tim Regan, mlpeixoto, zepfanman and Stuart Heath

We walked you through some tips for putting all of your household chores on autopilot a while back. When it comes to house cleaning, you can't just automate everything — the cleaning needs to get done, and unless you pay for someone to do it for you, you're the one who has to do it. However, there are several ways you can optimise the process .

Put Your Cleaning On A Schedule

How to Streamline Your Household Cleaning

This may seem basic, but it's important. The first thing to do is to put your regular cleaning on a schedule. This has two big benefits: First, it makes sure that everything that needs cleaning gets cleaned. Second, it makes sure that you never tackle too much at one time and get overwhelmed. Break down your cleaning calendar into specific duties, like "wipe down the counters" or "clean the microwave", instead of just "clean the kitchen." By giving yourself specific tasks and responsibilities, you'll never stand in front of the kitchen or bathroom, heave a sigh, and wonder where you're going to start.

How you go about building your schedule is up to you. We'd recommend a shared Google Calendar with other people in your household, just so everyone is on the same page. A shared to-do list in your favourite to-do list manager, or in a collaboration app built for small groups can also make sure everyone does their share and everything gets done. If all that high-tech nonsense is too much for your household, just put a calendar on the wall and add each cleaning duty to it with a marker.

Clean In Short Bursts

How to Streamline Your Household Cleaning

You've probably heard all about how you can clean your house in minutes a day on the regular. Inspired by people like The Fly Lady and her detailed quick cleaning regimen, these methods break down the massive task of cleaning your home into bite-sized tasks that you can do in short bursts. If you had trouble making sure that your cleaning tasks were easy to tackle above, these methods will help a lot — but more importantly, they teach you to clean in short, quick bursts.

Burst cleaning makes the job less daunting and helps you learn to clean as you go (cleaning while I cook is one of my secret tricks to an always-sparkling kitchen). It also makes tidying up an easy habit that you can pick up and integrate into your routine.

Use Timers And Tech To Power Through

How to Streamline Your Household Cleaning

Productivity methods like the Pomodoro Technique are great for helping you focus at work, and they're amazing for helping you clean, too. Set a timer for the amount of time you'd like to clean, say 25 minutes. Then focus on cleaning until the timer goes off. Give yourself a five minute break, and then do it again.

After four of those work sessions, or "pomodoros", give yourself a longer break, or stop cleaning altogether. It helps those short bursts add up, and if you do something different for each of those sessions, you'll be surprised how quickly your cleaning gets done.

If you like cleaning to music, consider using timed playlists packed with your favourite music to signal when you should start cleaning and when you should stop, take a break, or move on to the next task. However you go about it, everything's a little more fun when there's music playing, and when you know the finish line is on its way soon.

Stop When You're Done, And Don't Go Overboard

How to Streamline Your Household Cleaning

Finally, and this is something I'm guilty of, don't let yourself get carried away when you start cleaning. It can be easy to just keep going once you've gotten started, but it's important to stop yourself when your timer goes off, of you've finished the task you said you would do. Don't go overboard and assume that because you're making good progress that you have to clean all the things. Putting in too much effort actually drains your limited willpower reserves, and will leave you stressed and tired for the next thing you have to do, or the next time you need to do some cleaning.

Some people will have the opposite problem, and get so quickly distracted that they never finish the one thing they set out to do. That's OK too — forgive yourself and come back to it later. The important thing is that you're getting the cleaning done and making an effort to make it a regular thing. Next time, break the task down even more so you have greater successes over longer periods, and step up from there. That way everything gets cleaned, and you don't feel terrible about it. With luck, these techniques will help. Whatever you do though, try to make it fun.


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