Time in a Cleaner Bottle

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While most of us will agree that a certain amount of housecleaning has to be done, no one has a lot of time to spend doing it. Let’s be honest, no one wants to spend a lot of time doing it. We have all heard, though, that a task will expand to claim the time allotted to it. So, how do we keep housecleaning from taking over our lives?

Divide and Conquer

In the first edition of her book Getting Organized Stephanie Winston suggested dividing cleaning tasks into four layers. Layer 1 included daily jobs. Winston lists making beds, washing dishes, taking out the garbage, picking up stray articles, and light dusting as examples. Layer 2 included twice weekly jobs. Winston places vacuuming carpets and/or sweeping hard wood floors and cleaning sinks, the toilet, and the tub or shower on this list. Layer 3 included once-a-week deep cleaning jobs. For Winston, mopping floors, polishing furniture, washing walls and woodwork, laundry, grocery shopping, and running errands are layer 3 tasks. Layer 4 included special projects – washing windows, cleaning the oven, defrosting the refrigerator or freezer, polishing silver, and other tasks that are done infrequently. You don’t have to agree with Winston’s ideas about what chores belong in what layer. Feel free to rearrange them at will.

Time Divisions

Winston estimates that, in a one-bedroom home, it should take 30 minutes to perform the layer 1 tasks. She adds 10 minutes for each additional bedroom and 10 minutes for a second floor. For layer 2 tasks, you decide the order in which you want to rotate them so that each one is performed twice during the week. Winston figures layer 2 tasks should take 30 minutes or less. You can add one level 3 task each day or you can set aside time for level three and four tasks one day a week.

Using Winston’s calculations set aside the time you estimate that you will need for your first rotation of layer 1 and 2 tasks, and then add or subtract time as needed until you know exactly how much time is needed.

All Together Now

Several years ago a cleaning company distributed a free paperback book of cleaning tips, some of which they used in their business. Before beginning to clean, they suggested putting dust cloths window rags, window cleaner, furniture polish, and anything else you will be using in a container with a handle, like a basket, that you can carry with you. You could even store the window cleaner and furniture polish in the basket. If you need a step stool or a short ladder to clean windows or a ceiling fan, remember to bring that along as well.

Going Around in Circles

When you clean a room, carry your basket with you and follow a clockwise or counterclockwise path around the room cleaning high to the low so that any dust falls to a surface you haven’t yet cleaned. At some point as you circle the room, move out to clean any furniture or other objects in the center of the room. When you’re finished cleaning everything in the center of the room, return to where you left off on your circle and finish the room. You could decide in advance what point in the circle makes it most convenient to move out to the center.

As you go around the room, you could take another tip from Winston. Pick up anything that is out of place and, if it doesn’t belong in the room you’re cleaning, put it in a second basket or container for out-of-place items. Carry that second basket with you, add out-of-place items as you find them, and put the items in back in their proper places as you clean the rooms where they belong.

Combining these two smart, organized systems helps you keep your home clean while giving you more time to enjoy it.

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