I have noted on the blog before that I am not a clean freak. You could come to my house at any point in time and while it will most likely be tidy there will always be shelves and skirting boards that need dusting, finger prints and other assorted marks on the walls and probably a few cobwebs in the cathedral ceiling in the kitchen that I find impossible to reach.
But sometimes the state of the house will start to stress me out. Depending on how everything else is going on in family and work life, mess and marks around the house seem to jump out and taunt me! I then mentally add them to my list of things to do as I walk past them, a list that is already quite full, so I end up feeling like I will never get on top of things.
Choose one short achievable task
Something which I have been doing lately with great success when I start to feel this way, is to choose one quite visible task that is driving me crazy. It will be a task that I know I can do in under 20 minutes.
The time factor is important because any longer than that and I will say something similar to this to myself “I won’t be able to do it right now as I don’t have time. I will do it when the kids come after school instead.” The kids will come home after school, someone will need help with homework, there maybe some fighting to deal with, dinner takes longer to cook than expected and the task remains uncompleted. I end the day feeling the same way.
The reality is I do have 20 minutes to do some of these tasks, I often choose just not to do it. The insane thing about that is, I feel so much better and calmer once I have completed a simple task. It make me feel like I am getting somewhere, not simply just treading water. This improves my mood and I find I am way more productive when I am happy, so the knock on effect of completing one task is significant for me.
Don’t aim for perfection
When I do the task I also have the aim not for it to be completed perfectly, but to just get it done. It is an important mindset to take into the activity as otherwise I can end up spending an hour on it and then fall behind in other things I have to do for that day. For example near our front door we have a basket for placing shoes in (we had to move from having it near the back door as the dog kept eating the shoes!). The kids will often just dump their shoes in the general area and not in the basket and they may leave behind some other items as well.
The front door area can end up looking a mess, with shoes, bits and pieces and leaves all accumulating. I detest walking in the front door through this, but found myself doing so for about two weeks! Until I decided one morning this would be my one task to tackle. I organised the shoes and swept the front step. It took me a whole of 10 minutes. I was really tempted to get out the mop and give it good clean, but I needed to get to work, so I left it at that.
Leaving the house later that day, I smiled as I walked out the front door and for the first time in weeks, didn’t think “I must add tidy the front step to my to do list.”!
11 household tasks you can complete in under 20 minutes that make a difference
I have created a list of household tasks you can complete in under 20 minutes that make a difference to the state of the house. I call them high impact tasks. They don’t take too long to do, but you can tell you have done them and they will make a difference to the overall state of the house.
You can spend time on tasks around the house that really need to be done, like reorganising the pantry, decluttering your wardrobe and while they are essential and provide long term organisational benefits, they don’t give the quick hit success that these high impact tasks do.
- Vacuum/sweep high traffic areas.
- Clean the windows in the main living area.
- Tidy and sweep the front entrance.
- Clean the kitchen sink and wipe down benches and cupboards.
- Clean the toilet, wipe down the basin and bath in the main bathroom.
- Fold a couple of loads of washing.
- Tidy up the drop zone and return everything to its rightful home. Make a home for the item if it doesn’t have one.
- Wipe down walls in the room you see most, concentrate on the areas around light switches, door handles, etc.
- Dust a room you spend a lot of time in. Dust the shelves, ornaments, lights and the skirting boards.
- Complete all outstanding paperwork on your desk/fridge, where ever you stash it.
- 20 minute pick up and put away. Spend 20 minutes going around the house at a fast pace, picking up items and returning them to their home.