Finding My Routine, Part II

Today has been day two, and so far, the routine is really working.  In fact, today it worked so well that I felt completely underwhelmed by my work load!  đź™‚  Although, the vast majority of the credit goes to the fact that yesterday–my initiating day–I found myself home alone for a very, very long time.  (The girls went to the zoo with Mammaw again.)  I tried to make good use of the day, though, and tried to get every item done pretty well so that today wouldn’t be so much work.  I had thought it would take a week or so to get every area on my list back in enough order so that the deeper work could begin and the “upkeep” work would be manageable, but my unexpected free day yesterday put me far ahead of my own schedule.

So today, I learned a very important motivation lesson: if I do a really good job every day on the small tasks I need to do, then they won’t stack up and become overwhelming.  Instead, I’ll be able to do new things.  Today it took me perhaps an hour or so to get the entire house back into the same level of order as it was yesterday, which left me with time to do other things (play with the kids! go on a field trip!) and to work on specific trouble spots to bring the house into even better order than it was already in.

At any rate, I wanted to write up some of the things that landed on my “routine” sheet.  Again–I know that a working routine is going to look different for everyone, and mine are definitely not “right” answers!  But these are the basic components of my list:

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Reminders: things I tend to forget if I don’t actually have a visual reminder of them, and things I prefer to forget if I don’t like to do them.  On my list, this is things like: meal-planning, setting out the meat to thaw for dinner, and laundry.

Blitz-Clean:  this is one of three “types” of cleaning I have specified in my routine.  A blitz-clean is a five minute interval in which I run around like a crazy chicken pretending like company is going to show up in the designated location any minute.  Basically, cleaning up the gross offenders in the room, straightening stacks, throwing toys in their bins, etc.  The main goal isn’t so much accomplishing a great feat of cleaning, but rather sort of “lassoing” an area/room and getting it under some semblance of control.  On my list, this is the first thing I do in the morning–in the living room.  It’s not only one of the areas in the house that gets the most out of whack, it’s also one of the areas that is the most important to look passable for company, including company that shows up unexpectedly at ten o’clock in the morning.  A Blitz-Clean is an efficient way to bring the room back to center in preparation for a more thorough cleaning later in the day.  (It’s also a little bit redundant, since the c/d/c [below] later would cover everything, but I think it’s worth it for the lessened stress of random-company and more pleasant environment from the very beginning of the day.)

c/d/c: Check, Declutter, Clean: this is the second type of cleaning, one that’s designed to be flexible in depth according to how messy the area is and how much time I can actually afford to spend in cleaning it.  (This flexibility is key to actually accomplishing something every day and maintaining some consistent order from day to day.)  A c/d/c should take from two minutes for a well-kept room to thirty minutes for one that’s beginning to get out of hand.  Includes clearing surfaces and “hot spots” (to borrow FlyLady’s term), small accumulations of messes, and routine cleaning (vacuuming, mopping, dusting, counter-swiping).  Does not include tackling larger, harder-to-surmount messes which have accumulated–those are reserved for deeper cleans.

Super-Work: similar to Blitz-Cleans, but a little bit longer in duration (more like fifteen minutes), and focused on a problem area rather than an entire room.  Basically, these are the bits of work that need done but are outside the range of a c/d/c clean.  On my list, this is an unassigned block–meaning that each day I choose what small area to attack and conquer, based on the various needs and resources (time, energy) available.

Kitchen: similar to the living room, our kitchen gets messy fast.  Unlike the living room, however, the mess in the kitchen literally multiplies if left unattended, so it’s the one area of the house that qualifies for a routine cleaning that’s more thorough than a c/d/c: basically, in theory at least, the kitchen gets cleaned top-to-bottom and all the dishes done and put away… every single day.  The goal is to have the kitchen totally clean, every morning if not every night.  Otherwise, things just keep stacking up!

Daily Project: this is sort of an extended Super-Work; the idea is to work on tasks that take an hour and half or so to complete.  It’s not necessarily “cleaning” per se, but it is “homemaking” and is usually cleaning.  This is also the part of my routine that will get utterly cut if we’re not at home, if something comes up, if someone is sick, or if I’m just too worn down.  But the DP is also one of the most fulfilling parts of the day (“Guess what I did today, honey!?!”) and so I’m not tempted to cut it too often.  Some examples of DPs would be: switching wardrobes to the next size/season, going through bins/piles of items, sorting and finding new homes for bags of incoming items, cleaning the basement, etc.  The DP is the one area where I still find it very useful to use a traditional todo-list and manager–I use Remember the Milk and put my items in a “Household” list with no due date, then use the GMail widget to pull the list into a location I see a lot throughout the day, so I can think about the potential projects and choose the one(s) that fit the best with my particular day.  The added benefit is that this declutters my brain: by writing down the little things I need to do “some day soon,” I no longer have to actively think about or remember them!

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Yes, some past-tense there which doesn’t make much sense considering I just drew up my formal schedule on Sunday.  But some of this–particularly the distinction between different kinds of cleaning, and the idea of “projects,” is things I’ve been doing for a while.

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2 thoughts on “Finding My Routine, Part II”

  1. Ok this fascinates, impresses and amazes me. Is this on paper somewhere in your house? If so, I want to see it and to learn your ways! I have been trying for WEEKS to get a routine down now that I am a new WAHM and trying to schedule L, but all I seem to have is ever-growing piles of laundry!

  2. Oh, goodness, don't be impressed! Your house is neater than mine.

    Yes, it's on paper, although mainly on the computer so I can tweak it! https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1B746PeIJIZuVfxo_TjTTxyfe-9E5KY30sdGBAlmrn4s

    It's kind of hard to describe just by looking at it, though — it's more like the schedule dictates the order and basic contents of my day, but then there are lots of decisions I have to make DURING the day about the smaller stuff… like what constitutes "cleaning" my living room TODAY is not what it will be tomorrow. I'm trying to add a little more "totally clear areas" each day and then just maintain them, if that makes sense. And the later afternoons aren't on the schedule at all… I try not to do chores while Seth is home.

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