I think we can all agree, having a plan in place can make a huge difference. A plan to reach a goal (running a 5K, getting out of debt…) gives direction and can help you reach that finish line even when you start to lose motivation. So, it makes sense to create a plan for a necessary chore of life– house cleaning!
When you have a schedule in place, you know where to start but more importantly, you know where to stop. That end point is an important part of your schedule so you don’t feel like the whole day is spent cleaning (and if you do, your list is way too long). Following your schedule can help you remember that if for some reason, you don’t get those fingerprints off the sliding glass door, they can keep until next week, really they can, and you have a plan to remind you of that.
But how do you make a plan that is easy to follow, fits your needs and isn’t a chore in itself? The options of how to organize your cleaning schedule seem to be endless! How do you cut through the overload of information to find what works best for you?
The following is a step by step planning session loaded with resources to help you develop your own personalized cleaning plan to fit your schedule. Ready? Let’s make a plan!
Step 1: Collect materials
We are going old school and grabbing a pen and paper (blank on both sides). No seriously, grab a piece of paper and join me.
First fold in half (hamburger style), then tri-fold your half-sized paper so it’s folded into six sections when you open it all up.
Open up the paper and write ‘Daily’ on the top in the first row. You are ready for Step 2!
Step 2 Brainstorm
Come on, it will be fun. Do a brain dump, right there on the paper on what you want to do daily. It can be other tasks too besides cleaning, like making lunches or picking out your clothes for the next day.
If you like a little more structure while brainstorming, label the rows down the margin with times of the day like morning, mid-morning, early-afternoon, afternoon and evening.
Take a look at your list of daily to do’s and place each task into the time of the day it needs to fall. Are you feeling stumped?
Let’s look at what the pros say to get the ideas flowing. Martha Stewart has a checklist of 6 things to do each day and Real Simple has a daily cleaning checklist. It’s a good starting point to plan your own schedule and you can keep, add or discard anything from the lists that you don’t want as a part of your daily list. Just add what will work for you. Don’t worry, we will make it pretty later.
While brainstorming about what needs to be accomplished daily, you might have thought of a few weekly tasks. Flip your daily cleaning list over and orient it into a landscape view.
Label each column with a day of the week. I left Sunday off, but if you want to include it just have a S/Su column or a Su/M column.
Looking good! Now what are we going to put in each column? If you work outside the home full or part-time, you may find it easier to knock out a weeks worth of cleaning in one swoop or decide to do a little each day. You might have one or two days a week that need to be crossed off completely because you are too busy to add even one more thing on your plate.
Everyone’s week will look a little different. Even if it feels overwhelming to look at it all in black and white, remember, we’re still in the brainstorming phase, we’ll fine tune as we go.
Let get some ideas!
Home Ec 101 explains how she assigns each day a different task and shares her cleaning plan.
Ask Anna shares her own yearly cleaning schedule.
Here is a super cute schedule from Brown Paper Packages.
As you look at each list, decide what to add and what to leave out, keeping your own tolerance and time in mind. For instance, I don’t wipe down my kitchen chairs weekly or sweep out the garage monthly. I do those less frequently and I don’t mind a bit. It really depends on what works for you.
At the end of brainstorming you’ll have something that looks like this, chicken scratch and all.
I didn’t go into too much detail because I have built daily cleaning into my routines and now I can do most of them with out even thinking about it. My weekly schedule follows theme days similar to the example from Home Ec 101 above. With a somewhat clearer picture in place, we are ready to move on to step 3.
Step 3 Final Draft
Now that your rough draft has taken shape, it is time to make it official. Don’t worry if you feel like it is not quite right yet. You won’t know what works best for you until you try something! And remember if it does not work, don’t give up. Tweak it till it works for you and your family. Delegate chores and tasks, move or remove to do’s that bog you down, and keep fiddling until it fits!
There is an overwhelming number of adorable cleaning schedule printables all over the web so don’t bother reinventing the wheel. I love customizable forms since we can make it our own and update as needed. Doing a web search of printables can be overwhelming (seriously there are thousands).
So after a few mega search sessions of my own, I have included links to my favorites. Once you’ve found a format you like, transfer your own schedule onto one you’ll love to look at each day.
Ask Anna also has a version of cleaning schedule where you can add your own personalized tasks (I just love lists with check-boxes!).
Step 5 Follow through
Now here comes the hard part. Whether you put your cleaning schedule in a picture frame, household binder, or hide it inside a kitchen cabinet, how are you going to follow through and actually use it?
For me, this schedule is a loose outline. If I miss a day of cleaning the bathrooms for instance, I don’t worry about making it up or jamming more things into the next day. I simply wait until the next Wednesday comes around to make it up. It can wait! Gasp! Yes, sometimes I only clean my bathrooms every other week but with simple daily wipe down, they never get too bad. And the idea isn’t to add more stress or guilt into your day.
Instead of feeling like I want to pull out my hair screaming, “When is this all going to get done?” I know when it will get done and so when that stress rises up, I take a breath and check my schedule.
Dive in today! And if it’s not working, grab a new piece of paper and that pen and start again.
Still feeling unsure where to start? Check out The Flylady system which walks you through the process of establishing daily and weekly routines to maintain your home. There is a lot of information on her site and in the daily emails which can be overwhelming (and not everyone is a fan) but if you truly need to take baby-steps with following routines, this can be a good place to start. (I recommend that if you do sign up for her emailing list, to be sure to click the box to have the daily emails bundled up into one large email).
How do you organize your cleaning? Do you do it in one full swoop on the weekend? Does it feel like pulling teeth to get everyone to help? Do you do a little bit each day? Do you have every intention of doing a little bit each day but it always get pushed out of your schedule? Or do you spend the whole week putting out little fires as needed?
psst… Didn’t get enough cute cleaning schedules? Here are a few more to catch your eye.