My Clean House Plan

Clean House-01

I’ve been struggling in recent weeks to balance everything that I’ve got going – my work, the kids and the house, plus it’s graduation season – always a busy time when your husband works at a university. When life gets crazy, everything unravels if the house is out of order. Having a messy house is time consuming, distracting, and stressful – not good when you’re trying to do creative work (or any work for that matter.) Home is your foundation and when you work from home it becomes that much more important to keep it running smoothly.

I finally came up with a plan the other day to do just that. It tells me exactly what to do in the morning to ensure we have a smooth running day, and what to do in the evening to make sure we wake up to awesomeness and aren’t cleaning up yesterday’s mess. Keeping the house under control is as simple as looking at my chart, doing what needs to get done and checking it off (my favorite part).

I needed my chart to literally walk me through my day, so I broke it up into three parts: morning, evening, and daytime.

Daily Tasks-01

“Morning” and “evening” actions are always done every day. Obviously I don’t need a reminder to make breakfast. It’s just there because I get so easily distracted that I need a specific list of action steps in order to keep me on track (Do this, then do this, then do this.) “Daytime” stuff varies depending on what day of the week it is (except for mail). Here’s what Tuesday looks like.Daily Tasks-02

There’s also space to jot down other things that aren’t part of the normal routine.

Here’s how it works:

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I made a specific sheet for each day of the week. I printed it out and trimmed it down to 8×10, stuck in a cello sleeve (so it becomes “dry erase”) with a backing board so it’s nice and rigid. Each night I pull out the next day’s sheet and jot down the “other” things that need to get done. Then I stick it on the fridge. In the morning, I wake up, go through my morning routine, tackle the specific chores for that day and I’ve got the rest of the day to do whatever else I need to do until the evening.

Our evening routine starts after dinner and ends when it ends. Each day it totally manageable, and the best part is, as long as I do everything I can be confident that the house is under control. It may not be completely perfect, but pretty close, and doing this consistently means cleaning takes less and less time since less time goes by in between cleaning.

If you’re interested in implementing something similar and would like to use this as a starting point (obviously this is very specific to us and you need something that’s specific to you), I’m sharing my files with you today. I made these in Illustrator but you could do something very similar in Word or Pages or whatever you have. If you work with Illustrator, I’ve also included the original file.I wasn’t going for pretty, so embellish all you like. FYI, that pink border is actually a trim line so I could get an 8×10 sheet, but you don’t need to trim it if you don’t want to. You could also just use a clipboard by sticking your paper in there with a transparency over it to have that same dry erase functionality. You can buy single transparencies at pretty much any large office chain or print shop.

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Happy cleaning!

11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. What’s YNAB? Hope this helps you gain serenity in your life :). I know that if my house is messy or dirty, I get stressed out and then angry. Yes, it comes to that. This is why for our new Au pair, I told her exactly how I like my house — put toys away, help with spills in the kitchen. That helps a lot to come home to calm and neat environment. Our schedule for cleaning is on a week-by-week basis: floors, bathrooms, vacuum, and changing linens.

    1. I completely forgot to explain what YNAB was. It stands for You Need a Budget. It’s the budgeting software we use. Bought it last Sept for my birthday (???? I know…) and we LOVE it. It’s totally different from any other budgeting software we’ve tried and it’s really helped me to stay on top of our money and not feel guilty about overspending in any one category.
      I’m a total grouch too when the house is messy…and then I get kind of lethargic and give up and don’t feel like doing ANYTHING, which is not good. I’m seriously considering getting some kind of in-home help, maybe not with the house but with taking care of Leo for a few hours a week so I can have some uninterrupted work time.

  2. Thank you for posting this information! I struggle with the same thing. My husband and I own a business, so I work from home and it is a constant struggle to balance out business work and house work, etc. Now that I am writing, it will be even more challenging, but I continue to look for ways to balance it all. I will print out your files!

    1. Glad you found this useful! I know exactly what you mean, and it’s so hard to run at peak levels when things are out of order around you. Doing a little every day certainly makes life easier. Good luck figuring out your own balance 🙂

  3. This is a great idea, and the pretty lists are an awesome bonus. I try to separate the big house chores (mopping, bathrooms, etc) onto different days. It definitely makes keeping the place held together a lot less daunting. Then there are the weeks when I just throw up my hands and say screw it and let it all go. That’s been happening more lately as I sink further into the writing of my second book. I’ll resurface again someday.

    1. Kayla – I’m totally in “screw it’ mode this week. My husband’s traveling, my daughter’s sick and I’ve been bombarded by work (yay! and also…bad timing!). A good friend of mine said “It’s ok to plan, just do it in pencil.” I guess in this case it’s dry erase marker. Sometimes all we can do is stay flexible and take it day by day 🙂 Best of luck on book #2!

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