Cleaning and maintaining the home is the absolute bane of most people’s week. There seems to be no end of things that need doing which can lead us to bury our heads in the sand.
Most of us become less productive as things become chaotic, so a great way to overcome this is to split house duties into different categories. Then, by keeping a physical checklist of these, your anxiety will be reduced because you know exactly where to begin, how many things are left, and you can then forget all about it when focusing on other things, like work.
This is just good practice for anything that needs doing, like when running a business, but for some reason we feel like cleaning has to be improvised and not regimented. This is nonsense.
So, what are these categories?
Cleaning tasks can be divided into daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Here is a little taster of what it might look like (but is far from complete).
- Re-organise your personal and business files
- Clean the curtains
- The sealant that surrounds your bathroom can get tatty and mouldy fairly quickly. For easy removal, use a strong remover that will drastically improve the bathroom.
- Clean the chimney if you have one and use it (this is vital to do annually in order to be covered under home insurance)
- Replenish cleaning products
- Descale kettle, iron and shower heads
- Steam clean carpets
- Clean and condition leather sofas and furniture
- Clean hard-to-reach places
- Clean the microwave, oven and other appliances
- Clean out the fridge
- Wash sheets
- Tidy your desk
- Hoover the carpets
- Making the bed
- Unloading the dishwasher
- Clean kitchen counters and table
Okay, so this seems simple, but isn’t it cathartic even just to read, let alone print out a fancy laminated checklist for yourself? It makes me feel instantly better, knowing exactly what needs to be done, and thus ticking off exactly what has been done.
Of course, this list is far from complete, but you get the point. Every home is different, so you’re better off creating your own. You could go as far as integrating the monthly and yearly tasks into your calendar, and keep a daily/weekly checklist separate, which can be referred to more easily.
The biggest issue being a stay-at-home mum or dad, or working from home, is that you lose perspective quickly on your home. You can get so caught up in the daily, repetitive duties that the monthly ones go completely unnoticed. It definitely is good to have a routine (i.e. do the dishwasher at the same time every day), but it’s equally important to have a written list with deadlines for the things that you only do a few times a year.
Psychologist Dr David Cohen puts our appetite for lists down to three key things. Firstly, they reduce our anxiety almost instantly, as life can be chaotic. Secondly, they give us structure, a plan, and certainty.
Thirdly, they are evidence of what we have achieved — when ticked off, we get that little dopamine reward. And that’s what a lot of productivity tips are all about — being able to trick ourselves. This is why self-reflection is necessary to keep on top of things, both in business and in the home.
If you can understand how your own mind works (its weaknesses, its lies that it tells itself, what gets it going etc.), then we can ultimately hack it, so to speak.