Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Changing your house-cleaning routine one task at a time...


I once read a comment from a blog reader that said,  “I’ve just been frustrated (once again) by the fact that my house doesn’t stay clean longer than five minutes. I don’t have a system set up, and I also have bad habits such as putting my clothes in a pile by the side of my bed at night instead of hanging them up or putting them in the laundry hamper. I’m tired of it. The clutter gets to me and I feel unsettled. And I feel like I can’t start a new project or do anything fun until I get the house in order. But my house is never fully in order, so I never really get any projects done.”  Mrs. X

I totally understand where she’s coming from. A messy house can be overwhelming, and the habits required not only to get it cleaned but to keep it that way can seem like too much to tackle.

But here’s the secret: I’ve found that it’s best to use small steps in getting where you want to go.  Just as you can’t run a marathon without training, you can’t keep a clean house without starting with the first step.  No matter what the big picture or goal you’re trying to achieve, you must start at the same place: the beginning.

Try these new habits for at least two weeks each before going onto the next and in a short period of time you will have changed your routine and be on your way to maintaining a cleaner home:

1.  Hang up your clothes or put them in hamper immediately. If this task seems overwhelming to you, time yourself and see how long it takes.  Odds are it’s a 5 minute task.  Why put it off?  Do this daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

2.  Put all papers (including school papers, post-in notes, return envelopes, etc) in one in basket, and process at the end of each day.  We keep a small 8 ½ x 11 basket I purchased at the dollar store on top of the fridge.  It’s not an eye sore, but everything can go into it.  The only exclusion is our mail:  All mail goes into the mail pocket on the back door.  Do this and the previous habit daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

3.  Wash dishes immediately! Clean your sink and counters after. Try to keep your kitchen area neat and tidy.  It's so much easier to keep up with it than to have to tackle it later. 
    Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

4. Pick up before you go to bed and before you leave the house.  I know this can be the hardest habit to adapt to, but it’s worth it.  10 minutes before bed and 5 minutes before you leave can mean all the difference when you wake up or arrive home.
    Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

5.  Empty your trash daily.  If you’ve ever walked in the door at the end of the day and smelled that funky smell, you’ll know why this one is so easy to adopt.  Don't forget to reduce, reuse and recycle!  Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

6.  Spend 15 minutes decluttering each day.  I used to spend hours of time putting things away.  I’ve since realized that 4 people working for 20 minutes is the same as one person working for an hour.  15 minutes by each person in your family can keep your home neat and tidy.  Make it a habit for each person.  Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

7.  Have a place for everything, and put everything in its place   
     immediately.  What's the good of having a place for everything if you're not using it?  Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

8.  Make your bed each morning.  Come on, folks, it's a two- minute task!  Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

9.   Keep flat surfaces (counters, tables, desks) clear of clutter.  Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

10.  Put away your stuff as soon as you get home.  For me, this is my shoes.  Dear heavens, it’s a miracle if I don’t have 4 pair of shoes lying around the first floor alone.  One pair by the back door, one by the front door, a pair of house shoes by the fire place, etc, etc.  I'm a slob... I just fight it! Do this and the previous habits daily for two weeks before you move on to the next task. 

Now, these are a lot of habits, and it might seem overwhelming, but if you tackle one at a time (in whatever order you like), it won’t be that hard. Give yourself several weeks to get there – don’t expect overnight change!

Here’s how to tackle each habit:
  1. Write down your goal.
  2. Post it up somewhere visible.
  3. Keep a log and make sure you write in it each day, noting whether you were successful or not for that day. This may seem over the top, but it helps!
  4. Reward yourself for each day of success.  A few extra minutes reading by the fire is enough incentive for me…
  5. If you fall of the wagon, take a minute to see what went wrong, and how to correct it. Now forgive yourself for flopping, and tell yourself that you will do better starting now!
  6. Find a way to keep yourself focused on this goal for at least 2-weeks.
  7. Celebrate when you’re done.
If you can conquer one habit at a time (and it may take a month or more), then move on to the next. Do not try to do them all at once! Take baby steps, and you’ll get there.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

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