Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cleaning just for Company -- No-No!

I don't know about you, but the best way for my house to be its cleanest and most presentable is to have company over. If people are visiting, my husband and I go into turbo-boost tidying-up mode on every floor of the house. I often think that I should schedule all of my socializing and invitations to our home close together, thereby making the most efficiency of the "ready-for-company" status. It reminds me of a wooden plaque I see at the country furniture store all the time: The house was clean last week -- sorry you missed it.

Not that the house is messy -- I actually keep it very uncluttered considering I have 2 preschoolers -- but it is the deep cleaning of surfaces, dusting and uber-vacuuming I'm talking about. Luckily my husband is a big help with this (a bit more anal than I, actually, in this department!). But his M.O. is to, all of a sudden, usually on a weekend morning, go "This house is a mess" and begin furious scrubbing of the stovetop. True, I have to deal with the daily decluttering and cleaning so I generally don't want to do the BIG in-depth clean that my husband has the energy for.

I am not sure if I have a solution (other than to invite people over every week) but I do have some tips to balance out the cleaning burden better.

  • Consider doing the ‘circular’ maintenance tasks (ones that are never really done) daily. Doing one task related to the laundry, mail, paperwork, or cleaning cuts down on massive, overwhelming projects that take up a whole day or weekend.
  • If you are facing a huge pile of laundry, you are more likely to procrastinate because it seems daunting. By doing a bit every day, the little amount seems doable and therefore gets done.
  • Many tasks, if left undone, end up turning into mountains of clutter or hours of time. For instance, if you sort through your mail each day, it will take less than 5 minutes. Let it go for an entire week, and it can take an hour or more. If you lightly clean the bathroom after everyone showers each day, it will never require a deep cleaning. If you wait a week or more, intense scrubbing and quite a bit of time will be required to get it back to a sanitized, clean state.
  • For all the chores or tasks you want done, create a master list. Walk around your house, and write done everything that needs to be done by room. Highlight or cross out task when done.
  • It may be helpful to tackle chores in baby steps, by doing a small number in a certain time frame that is doable for you, like in 15-minute increments.
  • Think of your home as a tree and each room is a branch of that tree. For each branch, compile a list of all the tasks you'd need to accomplish to get that room to be the way you want it to be. Cycle through the branches, one per week, and spend just 15 – 30 minutes per day in your branch.
  • Give yourself little mental races: do a task during commercials before show comes back on, or the microwave dings, or see what can get done before something happens (i.e. work on a drawer until laundry is done or Johnny gets home).