In order to follow this simple system, you will need to do battle with your perfectionism. You will have to give up the notion of “doing it right”, and just do it. When it has to be perfect and sterilized and magazine ready, that adds a lot of pressure to the mix, and most people put things off until they can be done “correctly”. Then you get deferred maintenance, and the mess gets bigger and bigger, and scarier and scarier and it causes a lot of unnecessary stress.
The other benefit to this system (besides being simple) is that your house will eventually always be ready for anyone to drop by. You will always be about 15 or 20 minutes away from “company ready”.
If you have a family, your family will be able to “join in” to the simple tasks because they will see it’s pretty easy, and it’s not stressful. They are not going to be yelled at because it wasn’t completed correctly. They will learn implicitly that housework needs to get done, but it doesn’t need to be “perfect”! That’s such an awful word! There’s nothing “perfect” in this world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t “good”.
This system will not work for everyone because it’s almost too simple. But for those of you ready to try something different, here goes…
Get rid of everything you don’t need or want
This may take a little time.
You can use any method for this you wish. You can try Marie Kondo’s method (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up); you can try Flylady.com’s method (Just declutter for 15 minutes a day), or make up your own method. The end result of any method is that clutter will be gone from your home, and you will just be taking care of things you either like or need.
Develop a daily routine
Here’s an example of a daily routine. You can make up your own to suit your needs. I get up in the morning; I go into the bathroom and get dressed (I already took my shower the night before). Before I leave the bathroom, I take my toilet brush and swish the toilet; I take my spray bottle of cleaner and rag which I keep under the bathroom sink and quickly clean the counters, toilet, and floor. I come out and make my bed. I gather a load of laundry and put it in the washer; (I put my rag I used in the bathroom in a special basket I keep in the laundry room because I wash those separately). I feed the furbabies; I put on the coffee or tea. While I’m waiting for that to boil, I clean the catbox; I take my feather duster and give the tops of the furniture a quick going over; I take my dustmop and quickly go around the middles of the floor. The coffee is ready and I eat breakfast. I am now ready for my day. In the evening, I come in, immediately throw out any mail I don’t need and put the bills in the drawer to be paid, record my receipts for the day, change into my loungewear, turn the washer back on (I turned it off after it got soapy and let it sit all day), make dinner, eat dinner, fold a load of clothes and put them away, (I put them in the dryer after they got done in the washer), wash and dry the dishes and put them away, lay out my clothes for the next day and take a shower. In the middle of all of these things, I might watch TV, take a walk, do some yoga, and various other stuff. The key to the daily routine is that I do not scrub — I swipe. I do not lift furniture, and clean in corners, I just quickly do stuff. It is not perfect. But over time, it keeps things pretty neat and clean. Think about it. If you only clean once a week, and you scrub and polish, it looks great, but it starts becoming dusty and dirty again right away. Doing a little something every day takes almost no time and it keeps it pretty clean. Daily routine stuff is just quickly swiping and tidying. It is not scrubbing and polishing. It’s not perfect and it’s done with a light touch. Your cleaning stuff is where you need it, and you do it as you are getting ready. It becomes a routine that requires almost no thinking once you get the hang of it. It becomes automatic, and things don’t have a chance to turn into a “job”.
Develop a weekly routine
Once again, make your own routine to suit your needs, but here is an example to get you started. On Monday, I do a fast weekly clean. I wash and change the sheets, clean the bathroom mirrors, vacuum and mop the floors, and dust. There have been many times I don’t have time to do it all in one day, even though it basically only takes an hour, so I don’t worry about it. I just divide the tasks over the week. On Tuesday, I have lunch with friends, and water my houseplants. On Wednesday, I throw out old food from the refrigerator and quickly wipe down the refrigerator shelves (I do NOT take everything out and wash stuff). Thursday is kind of a free day. On Friday, I put gas in the car and take my car duster and dust it. Sometimes I’ll run it through the car wash and vacuum, but many times I won’t. Saturday is another free day. On Sunday, I gather up the towels and wash them, and go grocery shopping after church. If my week, changes, I just change where I put these extra tasks.
Throw in an extra 15 minutes a day
I am very hit or miss about doing this and it still works! I set the timer for 15 minutes and do “detail” cleaning in a certain part of the house. When the timer goes off, I quit. I have learned to do that or I won’t want to do the “15 minutes” the next day. Detail cleaning is basically deep cleaning or spring cleaning. There are a myriad of tasks that go into this category – anything from cleaning out the sock drawer to cleaning the oven to polishing furniture. The tendency when you get started doing the deep cleaning is to keep going and to get everything “done”. Don’t do this. Even if you get it “done”, it’s not going to stay “done.” It is far easier to just turn spring cleaning into another daily routine. As I said, I don’t always manage to do this every day. I give myself permission if I am tired to just clean for 5 minutes (Yes, you can actually get something done in 5 minutes!). Sometimes I don’t get to the 15 minutes at all. That’s ok. I don’t do 30 minutes the next day. I just start fresh the next day.
That’s a lot of information all in one post! You don’t have to start doing everything all at once, but I wanted you to get the whole picture, so you could see the simplicity of it. It’s based on keeping things functional (not perfect), dividing things up into small steps that you can do in very little time, and developing routines.