Stop Saying Sorry
We all sometimes feel this pressure that our homes need to be perfectly clean when someone comes over, the first thing we do is apologise for the state of cleanliness (or lack thereof) in our home. We need to collectively stop this. Rather than apologising, take a deep breath, and own where you’re at. It doesn’t mean you are living in a pigsty but sometimes your busy life gets in the way of fitting cleaning into your schedule over the weekend.
Products, Tools & Techniques
Figure out the products, tools, and techniques that you need for any cleaning job before you actually get there. You don’t want to be wasting time figuring everything out while you’re in the thick of cleaning things. So, the rule here is to know the products, tools, and techniques in your cleaning arsenal so that you can approach any cleaning task confidently and efficiently.
Be Present & Mindful
This doesn’t mean having three or four items in every room in your home. It just means being mindful and present about the items that you have or bring into your home. This also extends out to sentimental items that you’re hanging onto or those once a year items that only get used during specific holidays. This whole concept tends to put people into a bit of a tailspin when it comes to decluttering and thinking through the things that they have at home. So, if this is you and you’re stuck, take a moment to be present and be mindful. Think about what you have, what you need, and what makes you happy in your space. If you have something you don’t really need or use anymore, you can safely move on from it.
Think about all of the tasks that you have at hand when you’re approaching a cleaning job, and then think about how you can use layering to reduce the actual amount of work that you have to do for a given chore. A great example would be cleaning your bedroom. The first thing you know you need to do is wash the sheets. So quickly strip off the sheets and throw them in the wash. That’s a passive thing that’s happening while you are cleaning the rest of the room. That way you know by the time you put the sheets in the dryer, your room is going to be clean and you can move on to another cleaning task. Another task you can do is pre-treating - what that means is applying the product to a surface and letting it work while you get all your other work done. By the time you come back to that pre-treated surface, all you have to do is wipe—you don’t have to scrub or break a sweat. The product has done a lot of the work for you. The power of layering will save you a tone of time
Have a Schedule
When you go into a messy room, the first thing that often hits you is a sense of overwhelm. You don’t know where to start and you don’t know how frequently you should be doing a certain task. This is a cause for anxiety and uncertainty. So, a great way to combat this is to have a weekly and/or monthly cleaning routine and schedule it in. This way you know exactly what it is that you need to check off on your cleaning list to ensure that you’re getting everything done.
Stay Ahead of Your Cleaning
There are two things that you can do to stay ahead of your cleaning. The first one is to clean as you go and the second one is to stay on top of little messes. Let’s say you’re in the kitchen and you’re cooking. As you’re doing the cooking, think about all the little cleaning tasks you can accomplish as you go. That way you have less to clean up at the end of the meal. In terms of messes, just clean them immediately. If you spill a little juice on the floor, or some toothpaste in the sink, rather than just leaving it, get to it right away. Small things build up—mess attracts more mess. Rather than letting that happen, stay on top of your messes and clean as you go.
Get Others Involved
Cleaning is a group responsibility. Whether you live with family members or you live with roommates, everybody has to pitch in. It’s a matter of taking ownership, sharing responsibility, and taking pride in the space that you live in. What this looks like is calling a group meeting and saying, “This is where I’m at. This is my capacity. This is what I need help with”, and saying, “What are all of you good at and what is everyone willing to take on?” Then it has to come down to everyone in your family/group getting on board.
Be ruthless with the stuff in your house—do not let your possessions control you. We often ascribe an emotional value to the things that we have in our home. This value doesn’t actually exist. It’s not real. It’s just what we’ve given to them because maybe there’s guilt or shame or fear or a history with these items. If it doesn’t serve you, then why hang onto it. Put aside emotion when you’re looking at your stuff. Look at your stuff with fresh eyes; if it doesn’t serve you, be ruthless with it and say goodbye.
Having your hands full anytime you leave a room means that the flow of items is constantly moving—hopefully in the right direction! As you leave a room, make sure that you take clutter, dishes, misplaced items, clothes, books, your iPad, or whatever else you have with you back to the place where it belongs. It’s just a really good habit to have because it means that so much less stuff builds up, and things get to where they need to go.
Adjust Your Expectations
This may be the most important rule. Adjust your expectations because you’re probably doing your very best right now, and it’s just a matter of you making some small changes so that you can improve further. If you start beating yourself up for not being perfect, you’re going to stop before you even get halfway there. I want you to keep that in mind and just manage and adjust your expectations. Remember—you’re going to be in a better place in a few weeks or a few months from now. Give yourself time for new habits and skills to sink in. This is a marathon, not a sprint.