Managing cleaning-up

Cleaning-up is one of the most annoying chores around the house. At least for me. First of all it seems to be never-ending, especially when you have kids. There always seems to be dust everywhere and spills of all sorts, not even talking about toys all over the place, books on the ground and piles and piles of all the different junk. Secondly, it is really frustrating that you seem to never have the time to finish anything – you’ve been cleaning for an hour, but it’s only the floor that is more or less clean. There is still a pile of dirty dishes and laundry, and dust on the TV, and… the list goes on. And it doesn’t even seem like you would have done anything! How to survive in all of this?

I am not going to talk about hiring help at this point in time. Now it is about doing everything yourself just without driving yourself totally mad.

Ok, let’s think like a manager – after all we have a mess to manage.

Step number one – de-clutter! This is a priority number one and one of the most difficult tasks. However, the less junk the less sorting. There is absolutely no way how to effectively sort junk. It clutters your home and your life and will keep on doing that forever until you get rid of it.

Practically speaking using the example of toys. Kids never play with all the toys they have, what they love to do is to throw these toys all over the place and go back to those couple of favorite ones. Elimination! I am not encouraging to throw away toys, but toys can be strategically put away. We have a set box of favorite toys and a couple of rotating boxes of other toys. This is a great way how to always have “new” toys. Other junk has to be analyzed on the regular basis and sold/given away/thrown away, you pick. But is has to go!

Step number two – How to get to it? Now, the approach I personally like towards the time management for the cleaning-up is the FlyLady (r). This is an approach by Marla  Cilley which in the nutshell can be summed up as follows:

  1. 15 minutes at a time. This point I sincerely consider to be genius! As Cilley says herself this is a way to stop procrastination and reduce opportunities to get sidetracked or bored. Indeed if you have a concrete task and a limited time allocated to it there is a big chance that this task gets done. Results! That is what is so much missing in the life of a stay-at-home mother. You seem never to have results – tangible, concrete, visible! If you say – now, I have 15 minutes, I am doing the dishes, tik-tak – there is a big chance that you will manage to do the dishes and you have your result. Now, next – laundry. Same 15 minutes. In half-an-hour you have two tasks realized, two results that you see.
  2. Clutter cannot be organized. That’s what I already said. Be as strict as you can on this one.
  3. Weekly routines and zones. This point I personally use with precaution, as I don’t like too much structure in my life. If I see that somebody messed up the drawers of my kitchen island I am not going to wait until it is a “closet cleaning-up day”. Although, Cilley has some point on this one, because routines allow for additional focus.

What Cilley also recommends is to keep a “Control Journal” which is some sort of a household management notebook or binder. The purpose of this would be to keep track of the routines, lists and other important household information. I personally don’t have a journal like this once again for the same reason that I don’t like to have too much structure and having a journal for me is a “too much”. However, also here I do see the point related to the psychology. If you have a journal of routines, tasks and consequently tasks scratched out, you visually see your results, your achievements and your goals. Just like a manager of any business unit or entity.

Finally, and this I also consider to be an extremely important one, is to always keep in mind that perfectionism is a b*tch! This is applicable not only to cleaning-up but to literally everything, because the only outcome of being too much obsessed with perfection is your procrastination and inefficiency.

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