It was a hot summer Saturday morning, and after a long week of working the last thing I wanted to do was spend the day cleaning. I’m sure you know the feeling. The house was very overdue for a deep cleaning (and still is), but there are other ways I’d prefer to spend a day off. Small problem though, I had guests dropping in for the evening so it was not an option to completely skip all chores. Cursing myself for not hiring a cleaning service is not particularly helpful. It’s on the long list of to-dos, but not really in the budget at this point.
So Plan B is to prioritize. Anyone that’s worked in an Information Technology (IT) department may be familiar with Agile, so I used that theme to figure out how to reasonably tackle my chores and maybe put a few items on the backlog. Even with quick cleaning depending on how much clutter needs to be collected and shifted it may still be an hour or so, but it’s significantly less than a full day.
What to focus on
Tackle your cleaning using two focus themes: ick and embarrassment. What would repulse someone if they saw it (think a dirty bathroom and unwashed dishes)? What would cause you embarrassment (think open credit card bills and overflowing recycling piles)? Remember you’re not aiming for show house perfect, lived in is fine.
Where will guests be gathering
Consider where your guests will be spending time when they arrive. If your house is divided into different spaces or floors, you can focus on the areas where guests might go instead of breaking your back cleaning EVERYTHING. In my case my guests were just quickly stopping in and my pln was to keep them on the first floor (i.e. kitchen, sitting room, and attached bathroom).
Start with decluttering
This is not the time for a lecture about putting things away as you use them. Gather up all the unopened junk mail, newspapers, magazines, and other clutter to put upstairs (or into a container you can hide). Put away clean dishes. Why is it they never quite make it back into the cabinets? Time or motivation permitting later, spend time organizing, recycling, trashing, or shredding the collected clutter.
Fix the ick
My neighbors and I joke that we live in a judgment-free zone, but dirty bathrooms are just ick. That’s a side you don’t want your guests to see. Hide your inner slob! So quickly:
- Clean that toilet,
- Wipe down the counters,
- Clean any stovetop spills,
- Wash dirty dishes or put them in the dishwasher, and
- wipe out the kitchen sink.
Also put fresh toilet paper in the bathroom. No need for someone to have to hunt for that. Bonus, run the dishwasher if it’s sufficiently full.
Finish off with dusting and vacuuming
My new favorite cleaning tool is the Swiffer 360 Duster. Without bending, I can quickly catch the dust on table tops, the visible baseboards, and dinning chairs. A quick spray or two of furniture spray brings back a shine and hides the fact that you really only spent a few minutes on this whole activity. Finally run a vacuum over the floors. I usually do this last to catch the dust bunnies or anything I knock off the counters (more ick factor). I don’t have time to do this step twice and with darker wood floors EVERYTHING shows! And don’t forget to take out the trash, technically that’s part of the fixing the ick-factor too. Ideally you’d take a few minutes to wipe down the floors too. Bonus points to you if you do.
So that’s enough to get by for the day, in theory. And ideally you’ve come up with a few tasks that you should do in the near future.
- Tackle those clutter piles sooner rather than later.
- Figure out which cabinets could use a quick clean out and reorganization. Remember those dishes that seem to never get put away? Find homes to put them in properly.
- Figure out ways to better manage your mail so it doesn’t pile up. Take care of it when it arrives instead of throwing it onto a pile
I know. I know. Famous last words for something that will NEVER get done. One can try to be optimistic right? Enjoy your night!