No matter how big or small your home is, if you're not naturally a tidy person then keeping it clean can be a bit of a challenge. I live in a one-bedroom apartment which means it doesn't take much clutter for my place to look like it's gone completely off the rails. Adding to my more-stuff-than-space problem is the fact that I'm really just a messy person by nature. For a while, I thought I was just destined to live in a mess -- until I started cleaning in sections.
The section idea was something I came up with a few weeks before a friend was coming to stay with me from out of town. I knew I needed to get my place in order, but my work schedule coupled with the level of grime on my place made it look like a pretty impossible undertaking, so I broke it up. After a lifetime of living in a mess, I feel like my apartment has maintained a reasonable level of cleanliness since.
Here's how it works:
- Divide your home up into seven sections, based on how dirty they typically are. The idea here is to get seven areas to clean that should take you an hour or less. So, if your bedroom is a nightmare, then maybe that should be divided into two, while your unused guest room and guest bath could potentially be combined into one. Think: What could I realistically clean in an hour? Don't ever have a "section" that's going to take much longer than that.
- Assign each section a day of the week. For instance, Fridays are my bathroom day. That means every Friday I squirt some toilet cleaner in the bowl, wipe down my counters, hit the floor with a Swiffer, and spray down my shower. The first time I did this it took a long time. Now that I do it every week, I can be done in 15 minutes.
- Once you've got everything divided up, make a point (for at least a week) of sticking to your schedule and getting those areas in order. Obviously, this is a little easier for me since I have a small home. If you have a bigger one, then you may need to expand that initial cleaning over a few weeks. Make it manageable for you and your schedule. If it's not, then you're likely to abandon it.
- After that initial clean, come up with a maintenance schedule you know you can stick to. For instance, I clean my living area on Wednesday evenings, which happens to coincide with when I catch up on television shows I enjoy on Hulu. I watch TV and tidy up during the commercials. My kitchen usually gets out of control during the week, so I tackle that on Saturdays, since I know I'll have more time.
Breaking things up into smaller easy-to-do chunks sounds simple, but for some reason, it was something I had never really tried before. When I would try and tackle the whole apartment I'd often fail, even when I gave myself the entire day, because I would get way too overwhelmed, distracted, and ultimately exhausted.
Now I'm the proud owner of a moderately-clean apartment, and after a few years, it's managed to stay that way -- despite the fact that I live there.
Have your own hacks for keeping your place clean? Let us know what you do in the comments.